With summer and the growing season right on top of us, many are having great success growing some of their favorite plants, flowers, and vegetables. Some plants are doing so well you wish you had more just like them.
Well, take heart because you can, actually. In fact, you can have that exact plant by merely taking a cutting and encouraging it to start a new root system. Many plants are readily adaptable to becoming another plant and it isn't difficult at all to do.
Organic Daily Post has put together this rooting hormone article for you, to show just how easy it is to propagate a favorite plant of yours or even someone else's if they are kind enough to share a cutting with you.
The Root of the Matter
Plants create their roots and by proxy, their root system, using rooting hormones called auxins. Auxins are natural compounds used to stimulate or encourage the growth of roots. While one can grow roots from cuttings without the use of auxins, your chances of successfully rooting a new cutting are vastly improved with the use of hormones. When successfully rooted, your new plant will grow to be genetically identical to the mother plant.
A Rooting Hormone's Job
So what do rooting hormones do, exactly? A rooting hormone alters the plant's priority from green cell generation to root cell generation so instead of producing leaves and stems it creates roots. Using a root-tone enhances your chances of successfully rooting a cutting. Rooting hormone also stimulates the plant's root system to produce more roots than they would on their own. It's like plant food for the roots.
Did You Know You Were Cloning?
Most of us are familiar with the term “cloning.” While cloning may sound like a sophisticated procedure performed in a laboratory by some mad scientist, when it comes to plants, you've probably been cloning all along and didn't even realize it. Every time grandma gave you a cutting from one of her favorite plants and you stuck it in water or dirt in an effort to grow another just like it, you were cloning.
Some cuttings will grow roots on their own when planted but these seldom produce roots as strong or as abundantly as when dipped in a root toner.
Some of the easiest plants to grow from cuttings are succulents. Succulents generally have thick, fleshy leaves that store water. The word succulent comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, or sap. Jade plant, aloe vera, and Christmas cactus are good examples of succulent plants.
Succulents are exceptionally easy to root. Althea, butterfly bushes, early forsythia, and crepe myrtles also root well from cuttings as do many types of bushes, hedges, and countless other plants. Rooting hormone not only gives you an edge toward a positive result but is also very helpful in propagating plants that are difficult to grow from cuttings.
Don't stop there though! You can clone nearly any plant using this method, so it would be difficult to list every one. However, there are some plants that are almost impossible to clone through this method. They are mostly trees and include the ones below.
Plants that are difficult to clone through rooting:
- Bald Cypress
- Cedar Elm
How to Use Rooting Hormone
Always take cuttings from around the center of a healthy plant with strong plant vigor. To improve your chances of successfully propagating a cutting, a good clean cut from the host plant is essential. The length of your cutting should range from 3 to 8 inches. Next, remove the leaves from the cutting and snip a couple inches off the top of the stem. Removing the leaves also promotes root stimulation by rerouting its energy from maintaining leaves to creating roots.
Should the plant you wish to propagate be flowering at the time, wait until the flowering stage is over before cloning. You should clip the top of the stem near a node. A node will appear as a slight bump on the stem. Nodes are the launchpad from where the branches and leaves sprout. Next, moisten or wet the bottom of the cut stem (from where the roots would grow) by dipping in water.
Take some rooting hormone from its container and place some on a small plate or in a bowl. Then dip and roll the moistened end into the root stimulant a couple inches deep on the stem or to about the depth you will be planting it. Don't dip your cutting(s) into your container of rooting hormone. The reason for using a saucer or bowl to dip the cutting into your rooting hormone is to avoid potential cross-contamination.
If you dip the moistened cutting directly in the bottle of root stimulant you run the risk of dipping a contaminated plant containing harmful microorganisms that can transfer to other cuttings. Isolating each dip while using fresh powder will prevent that from occurring.
Next, using a pencil or other tool, create a hole in the soil to the proper depth and place your cutting down into the newly formed hole. Go about as deep as your powder is on the stem. Pack your medium of choice tightly around your cutting as you would any transplant. Add water, gently and away from the stem as you don't want to wash off the powder. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Cuttings do better in indirect sunlight so don't set it in too sunny of a place.
Cloning From the Leaf
In addition to traditional stem cuttings, you can also achieve cloning using leaf or even root cuttings.
Using a cut leaf to grow a new plant from an old one usually refers to succulents. Their thick and fleshy leaves are perfect for rooting. Dip the cut end of the leaf into your powder and plant it deep enough in a moist medium to cover the rooting hormone. Water gently. In some cases, you may need to powder the back of a flat leaf and press it into the soil to cover the powder. Again, moisten gently. Remember, succulents retain moisture by their very nature so avoid overwatering.
Root cuttings are true to their namesake. They are cuttings from a parent plant taken from the roots. Dig down a little on the host plant and cut some strands of roots a few inches long and remove them from the mother plant. Re-cover the host plant's roots. Be careful not to cut the taproot. The taproot is the dominant root of the plant and easily distinguishable from the other roots. It is larger and thicker.
Once you have your roots, roll them in the root stimulant and plant them shallowly. Generally, you take root cuttings in the fall in order to give the roots time to well establish themselves over the winter for planting in the spring.
Making Your Own Natural Root Stimulant
You can purchase rooting hormone about anywhere plant products are sold but you can also make your own, which is pretty cool. The recipe is simple enough. If you have a willow tree or one you can access for a few branches, you are in business. Assuming you do, take several cuttings from a willow tree and place them into a large container. Put a gallon of water on to boil. When the water boils, pour it over the willow cuttings until submerged. Put a covering or lid over the mixture and wait 24 to 48 hours. Doing so will release the natural root stimulants, ready for use.
And there you have it, a simple and effective way to grow a twin or clone of your favorite plant. Follow these simple cloning steps using rooting hormone and you'll be well on your way to becoming a mad botanist yourself.
You can do it and... we're rooting for you!