How to Make Home Made Plant Rooting Hormone – Willow Water

Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)
Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

Willows are fast growing, deciduous trees that are mainly found in the Northern Hemisphere, in cold arctic and north temperate zones, in regions with moist soils. The Weeping Willow appears to be a native of extra-tropical Asia, from Japan and China to Armenia and the banks of the Euphrates, and of Egypt and North Africa.

One of the most popular and familiar willows is the Weeping willow (Salix babylonica), it has exceptional form and beauty. When mature it exhibits graceful, wide-spreading, pendulous weeping branches, with a short trunk, and a broad rounded crown. Its leaves are thin and narrow, sometimes with whitened or silky undersides. It is fast growing, and adaptable to almost any soil conditions.

Willows are an incredibly useful trees, with have many useful functions such as shade trees, for erosion control and timber production. Historically willow bark was used as a pain medicine as it contains compounds similar to aspirin!

Willows also have an uncanny growing ability! A broken willow branch left in water will very quickly grow roots. Willows can successfully root from very thick pieces of stem as thick as a human thigh when put into damp ground. This method of willow propagation is known as taking ‘trunk cuttings’. Willow cuttings can even grow if put in the ground upside-down, but please do the right thing and put them in the right way up!

These incredible growth properties of willows are due to the naturally occurring plant rooting hormones that they contain, which we can extract and use to induce rooting of cuttings of other plants we wish to propagate.

What Is Willow Water and How Does It Work?

Weeping willow on riverbank
Weeping willow tree growing on a riverbank

Willow Water is a homemade plant rooting hormone that is easily prepared and can be used to increase the strike rate (growth of roots) of cuttings that we’re trying to propagate.

The way that it works can be attributed to two substances that can be found within the Salix (Willow) genus, namely, indolebutyric acid (IBA) and salicylic acid (SA).

Indolebutyric acid (IBA) is a plant hormone that stimulates root growth. It is present in high concentrations in the growing tips of willow branches. By using the actively growing parts of a willow branch, cutting them, and soaking them in water, we can get significant quantities of IBA to leach out into the water.

Salicylic acid (SA), which is a chemical similar to the headache medicine Aspirin, is a plant hormone which is involved in signalling a plant’s defences, it is involved in the process of systemic acquired resistance (SAR) – where an attack on one part of the plant induces a resistance response to pathogens (triggers the plant’s internal defences) in other parts of the plant. It can also trigger a defence response in nearby plants by converting the salicylic acid into a volatile chemical form.

When we make willow water, both salicylic acid and IBA leach into the water, and both have a beneficial effect when used for the propagation of cuttings.

One of the biggest threats to newly propagated cuttings is infection by bacteria and fungi. Salicylic acid helps plants to fight off infection and can thus give cuttings a better chance of survival. Plants, when attacked by infectious agents, often do not produce salicylic acid quickly enough to defend themselves, so providing the acid in water can be particularly beneficial.

How to Make Willow Water Rooting Hormone

Weeping willow young branches with leaves
Weeping willow young branches with leaves

Willow water can be made from cuttings of any tree or shrub of the willow family, a group of plants with the scientific name of Salix. The more cuttings that are used and the longer they are soaked in water, the stronger the resulting willow water will be.

Recommendations for the exact method of soaking vary. Cold water can be used, and soaking times of four or more weeks are often quoted. Other gardeners use a much faster and preferrable method using boiling water to steep the willow twigs and soak the mixture for around 24 hours.

Here is the procedure for making willow water:

Making willow water
  1. Collect young first-year twigs and stems of any of willow (Salix spp.) species, these have green or yellow bark. Don’t use the older growth that has brown or grey bark.
  2. Remove all the leaves, these are not used. Don’t waste good green material though, compost the leaves or throw them in the garden as mulch.
  3. Take the twigs and cut them up into short pieces around 2.5cm (1″) long.
  4. Place the chopped willow twigs into a jar, and if you’ve collected plenty of willow twigs, fill the jar almost to the top.
  5. To extract the natural plant rooting hormones, either fill the jar with boiling water to cover the twigs, just like making tea, and allow to stand overnight; or use unheated tap water and allow to soak for several days.
  6. Separate the liquid from the willow twigs by pouring through a strainer or sieve. The willow water is now ready to use for rooting cuttings.
Making willow water
Young yellow and green willow twigs with leaves removed, chopped and soaking in boiling water

The willow water can be kept for up to two months if it’s put into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and stored in the refrigerator.

Since willow water is a clear liquid, it’s a good idea to label the sealed jar as a reminder of what’s in it. Also include the date it was made and perhaps the use-by-date, which is two months after that.

How to Use Willow Water to Propagate Cuttings

Julep mint cutting soaking in willow water
Julep mint cutting soaking in willow water

To use willow water for propagating cuttings, pour some into a small jar, and place the cuttings in there like flowers in a vase, and leave them there to soak overnight for several hours so that they take up the plant rooting hormone. The cuttings can then be put into a propagating medium and prepared in the usual way to grow roots.

Here are two Julep mint cuttings rooting in water. Mint placed in water will strike roots on its own. What is interesting to not here is that the untreated control on the left is only rooting at the nodes, where the leaf buds were. That’s where most cuttings usually root. The cutting treated on the right was placed overnight in a jar of willow water first, and that has not only rooted at the nodes, but all along the stem that was sitting in the willow water!

Julep mint cuttings rooting in water, the one on the right was places in willow water overnight.

The second way to use willow water is to use it to water the propagating medium into which the cuttings have been inserted. Watering the cuttings twice with willow water should be enough to help them root.

In summary, willow water is a natural plant rooting hormone that’s really easy to brew up, and costs nothing at all to make! So, next time you’re out on a hot summer’s day enjoying the shade and natural cooling provided by a majestic willow, grab a few twigs and take them home to help propagate some plants for your garden!


  • University of Maryland Medical Centre, Medical Reference – Complementary Medicine – Willow Bark

250 thoughts on “How to Make Home Made Plant Rooting Hormone – Willow Water

  1. What an extraordinary amount of information about the willow, as well as clear instructions on making a potentially very helpful ‘garden potion’. Thank you to the author.

  2. it is a wonderful way of making home made hormone . Could i just leave the rooting in the willow until the roots start to come out as i did with the rooting powder that i bought at the store ? thank you

    1. Hi, I’m sorry I don’t quite understand what the question is. If you mean leaving the cuttings in the willow water until they grow roots, you can only do this with plants that you can normally root in water, any other plant will rot. Just leave the cuttings in the willow water overnight, for a few hours, that will do. To use the rooting powder, you just put the cut end of the plant straight into the powder, and it sticks onto the cut surface, it is used dry (unless the instructions state otherwise), and then you put your cutting into your propagating medium.

      1. Hi Daniel,

        Since tomatoes are herbaceous, and have soft stems, it would be easier to use the second method I suggest in the article:

        The second way to use willow water is to use it to water the propagating medium in which you have placed cuttings. Watering your cuttings twice with willow water should be enough to help them root.

        Tomato cuttings take quite easily, so adding the willow water to their propagating medium should work very well.


  3. I love your website, learning heaps.

    Would the willow water also help young seedlings get established in the garden? At present I seem to lose about 25% of my seedlings.

    1. Hi Catherine,

      The willow water mainly helps cutting grow new roots. To help young seedlings get established, seawed extract works well, as it’s very rich in minerals, and helps plants develop a good, strong root structure. Also, if you’re losing seedlings, check that they are getting enough water, or conversely, that they’re not being overwatered, and make sure that pests areen’t getting to them!


      1. Also try soaking them in peroxide. Yes, hydrogen peroxide. Itll kill all the icky stuff so your seeds have a better success rate. It only takes a couple hours. 2 teaspoons to a cup of water works wonders.

  4. Will this work with other than the Weeping Willow which does not grow in my area?? We have other willows that do and what about the common Pussy Willow?? If none are available and I use Asparin in it’s place what Mg. Aspirin should be used to how much water??

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      As I ,mentioed in the article “Willow water can be made from cuttings of any tree or shrub of the willow family, a group of plants with the scientific name of Salix. ”
      So, yes, any willow can be used!

      The indolebutyric acid (IBA) in willow water is what makes the roots grow.

      The salicylates (which are contained in aspirin) are only involved in signalling a plants defences, so when one part of the plant is attecked it triggers the plants internal defences in other parts of the plant.

      So, no, aspirin can’t be used as a substutute for willow water as it doesn’t contain the growth hormones.

  5. HI Thanks for all that info – very good. Do you know if willow water can be used to help stimulate the roots of newly planted Bonsai trees? Just a thought tjhat seemed to make sense….

    1. Yes, willow water is root hormone, and will stimulate root production, but remember, the bonsai already have roots, and will grow them well enough on their own, but do need something to assist root production, and for this purpose, seaweed extract works very well. Seaweed extract is packed with a wide range of minerals and helps plants build strong root systems, so this is what I would recommend.

  6. Very nicely done.
    Any benefit to crushing or beating the willow pieces to expose more surface to the water while making willow water?

    1. Thanks! I’m guessing that if you crushed the willow branches you should get the plant hormone out a bit quicker! To be honest, I’ve never tried crushing the branches first.

  7. Is there any way to measure concentration of the solution and a possible dilution rate to extend your brew? Ty

    1. Not that I’m aware of without laboratory equipment! It’s a ‘home brew’ recipe, and seems to be something that people have experimented with over time until they got it to work, and passsed the information on to others.

  8. If I only have a limited supply of willow cuttings, how do I keep them indefinitely so that I can have a ready supply of willow water? Do I need to plant the rooted willow cuttings in soil?

    I got some cuttings a while back and soaked them in water. Most died and several survived and started to have tiny new twigs and leaves. What should I do to keep them alive and producing more water?

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with fellow gardeners.

    1. There’s a simple way to keep willow cuttings indefinitely, plant one of the rooted cuttings in a pot of reasonable size, say a pot 50cm wide, and you’ll have a big bonsai willow tree too. Don’t put the cuttings in the soil unless you live on a farm, and wish to grow a very large shade tree, and if you do, don’t put them in a location where the roots will intefere with water pipes, etc.

  9. I recently received this information from an old friend and really wasn’t sure he knew what he was talking about. So I got online to research and found your website. I am believer now…wish me luck. Thanks for the article.

  10. I was given a large bunch of young willow branches with the pollen still attached…young growth. Any reasonn why I can’t use these brances with the pollen, minus leaves, for your first method of making willow water (Pour on boiling water and leave for overnight)?
    I have about 200+ grape cuttings now in pots which are in the process of rooting and wish to use the willow water to aid their rooting.



    1. Hi, the young growth is good for making willow water, just remove the pollen, that doesn’t need to be there.


    1. Yes, you can, any of the salix genus (willow family) will work. If the cuttings take root very easily, then they’re a variety that’s filled with the plant hormone you need for willow water!

  11. There’s salicylic acid in some acne medication creams you can get at wal-mart & other stores. Can you use these creams to intensify the root-hormone brew?

    1. The short answer is no. Salicylic acid is also present in apririn and many other medications. These medications contain many other things not conducive to rooting cuttings, and remember, it’s the plant hormone IBA that induces rooting of the cuttings, which is not found in any human medication.

  12. Great article. Many thanks. I would like more specific info about the proportion of willow to the water it soaks in to make the willow water. Also, when I soak cuttings in the willow water, can I reuse the willow water for other cuttings at a later time? Or will the cuttings have made it unfit for reuse? I understand that willows have been seen growing under black walnut trees. I would like to grow my own willow tree from a cutting that I recently took, and the best place by far, given the small size of the area where I can grow things and the space constraints, is under a black walnut tree. It is in a sunny place where another black walnut used to stand next to the one on the land we steward, but that tree was cut down recently.

    1. No specific proportions are required, this isn’t an exact science, plant hormones are chemical messengers that will stimulate the plant to respond in a certain way, the recipe supplied will provide sufficient active ingredients for the task. Ypu should be able to get several uses out of the same batch of willow water before the active ingredients are depleted or are rendered inactive.

      Now, with growing a willow under a black walnut, we’re talking some seriously big trees here! The willow will grow 35-50 feet high, with a spread of around 35 feet, while a black walnut will grow around 70-90 feet tall and roughly just as wide! You mention “given the small size of the area where I can grow things and the space constraints” – hope you have the space, these are full size forest trees! Black walnuts are allelopathic, that is, they exude a chemical, juglone (5-hydroxy-alphanapthaquinone), which suppress the growth of almost every plant around them, so if you can get a willow growing in that space, that will be quite good.

      There is a good article entitled “How to Plant Willows Next to Black Walnuts” –

      They state that some trees, such as willow, are more tolerant of juglone, and emphasise planting the willow tree outside of the area that will be the black walnut’s drip line when it matures, which is about 60 feet from the black walnut. This is because the juglone is released when rain washes over the leaves, and it is exuded from the roots which reach up to the drip line of the tree canopy. Also mentioned is the importance of keeping the area around the willow free from any debris from the black walnut, such as fallen branches, nuts and hulls, to prevent the juglone leaching into the soil.

  13. As per my previous comment, no, apririn is not a substitute. Salicylic acid is present in apririn, and in willows, and this is the source of the confusion.

    Salicylic acid only signals a plants defences in the whole plant when one part of the plant is attacked.

    Indolebutyric acid (IBA) is the plant hormone in willow water that induces rooting of the cuttings, which is not found in aspirin.

  14. Living in Upper Egypt makes things a little more ‘interesting’ as I have to make everything!!! i want to take cuttings from my husbands’ fig and apple trees and discovered this willow hormone rooting only yesterday! Thankfully we can get willow here so I will get some and plant them on our farm which we are building towards now. Many thanks for this really good information!!!

    1. There would be no point to that, they already have roots! Better using the liquid from a worm farm to help them grow, compost tea, liquid fertiliser made out of weeds/comfrey leaves etc.

      1. Compost tea? Here in Luxor we tea like it is going out of fashion but it is powder tea!!! There is always a lot of it and i have been putting it on my compost heap with all the stuff my chickens can’t eat. But I’m not sure if it is going to work that way? They burn everything here in the food oven even dried donkey manure so trying to get a compost heap going effectively is a challenge!!! Tea compost would be a bonus!!

      2. Yes compost tea, it’s tea for plants, not people! Perhaps I should write up an article on how to make up this amazing brew for your garden!

  15. It was too late in the season as the blueberrys had already budded. I am impatient, so I cut some blueberry sprigs about 3 inches long, dipped them in my homade willow hormone, and watered them a few times with hormone and also water. They did not wilt. I shall keep a daily eye on them and hopefully get four more medium blueberry bushes.

  16. Hi
    I know you said that the leaves are not used, but if you make willow water with the leaves as well as the stems, will that work too?

  17. If you add the leaves, you’ll just be adding a whole lot more unecessary compounds that are not known to assist root production in cuttings. The willow leaves will just leach out flavonoids, salicylates, reducing sugars, amino acids, phenolic compounds, and tannins into your willow water. With all this extra stuff in there, chances are the willow water probably won’t keep that well! Not sure if all these chemicals will react with the IBA and whether they will affect how well it would work either. Best to just remove the leaves.

  18. I come from uncountable generations of farmers, & have hort degree. while studying hort. at u of del., I set out to debunk the old farmers “wives tales” I grew up with, mainly my grandmothers trick of rooting her cuttings in willow water. Ha! boy was I sutprised! Dispite 4 yrs of formal hort. education, I’ve gone “back to my roots” & grow exclusivly organic. morale of the story…. never underestimate granny!

    1. Hi Cathy,
      There’s a lot of tried and proven wisdom there if we are clever enough to seek it from those who have already gained these skills in the older generations.

      Dr Vandana Shiva who was in the film “The Economics of Happiness” talks about the importance of “Grandmother’s Universities” as an important way of transferring skills from one generation to the next.

      From Dr Vandana Shiva’s web site:

      “The Grandmothers’ University … is aimed at both celebrating and validating the wisdom of our grandmothers, as well as transmitting this to future generations to arrest the rapid erosion of skills, knowledge and values which women had evolved over millenia to live sustainably. Through the Grandmothers’ University also hopes to nurture the trans-generational responsibility, both of grandmother to transmit the Traditional Knowledge and our future generation to seek, receive and honour the accumulated wisdom of earlier generations.”

  19. Hi,
    Six years ago, we added a twig of curly willow to a flower arrangement to add interest to the display, and you guessed it, it rooted. When I told my plant-savvy friend, she told me about how its rooting hormone helps other plants to take root, and it’s done wonders streamlining that process for me on various kinds of cuttings. My husband planted it outside in our small yard next to the house, hoping that it would be a small ornamental tree, but unfortunately, (in just six years), it is now as tall as our three story house, and has to come down. I hate losing my beautiful curly willow – there’s no help for that, but I also hate losing my source of rooting hormone. Is there a way to prepare the willow tips – perhaps dry them – to preserve the hormone long-term? Maybe freezing very concentrated tea?

    1. Hi Misako,

      You do realise that you can bonsai most trees to keep them the size that you want, whether they are in pots or in the ground. If you cut down the willow at ground level, it will regrow, and a small sapling will grow up from the stump. Prune it to the height where you would like it to start branching, and keep the branches short by frequent pruning. If that sounds too tricky, take a willow cutting and put it in water till it roots, then grow the tree in a pot or container. Prune it for willow tips when needed, and then cut the branches back short when it loses all its leaves in winter, it regrows more branches in spring – this is what I do, as I don’t have the space for a full sized willow, so I grow it in a 40cm (16″) wide pot and I prune the tree to keep it about 1.5m (5′) high.


      1. Very informative article which I sincerely appreciated. I have successfully rooted several different cultivars using BTA which I purchased from our local nursery, but now will brew up some willow tea to see if I can determine which is the best methodology. The tea will certainly be the least expensive “solution”‘

        Thank you again.

  20. I wonder if this will also work in plant tissue culture propagation as the media liquid in the agar or gelatin preparation? Boiling water is mentioned so I’m guessing it doesn’t affect the hormone efficacy.

    1. I’m not really sure if the willow water might affect the sterility of the agar medium, or if the other constituents of the willow water will affect the in-vitro cell replication. I don’t have any experience propagating plants using tissue culture. IBA has a melting point of 125 C so it survives boiling in water at atmospheric temperature. Might be a worthwhile experiment? Mind you, there are research papers on the use of IBA (chemically pure laboratory grade) in tissue culture systems, and only the absence or extremely low levels of IBA or other hormones during the initiation stage favoured shoot growth, this stage is far better without it. In the transplantation and multiplication stages, IBA assisted new shoot production and shoot growth rate. I think willow water may be too crude a mix for such a delicate and sensitive process to be honest with you.

  21. Apparently it also works for grafting – I will try it this southern spring an let you know how it goes.
    Cheers Lloyd

  22. My mother in law’s weeping willow tree died and fell over and yesterday was cut up by my husband and son. Can the wood or bark be used in any way, either medicinally or for willow water purposes? I hate the thought of this going to waste.

  23. So glad to have come upon your blog! I’m new at this and was wondering if it’s too late in the season to try to propagate some plants now. I would love to get them ready for planting in my yard by spring. Thanks!

    1. Depends which side of the planet you’re on, it’s spring down here in the southern hemisphere! I’m assuming you’re in the northern hemisphere – if they have just lost their leaves or about to, you’re best to wait until late winter, and take cuttings while the willow tree is dormant. When the weather warms up, and leaves emerge, they will grow roots very quickly. The cuttings can go into the ground fairly quicly if you jsut keep their soil moist.

  24. Well I can report that willow water works very well for grafting.

    The best results were from the following method – 1 make the whip graft cut in the wood you want to graft on – 2 soak this in willow water for about 5 mins – 3 make the second cut on the tree you want to graft onto – 4 make the join and bind with grafting tape etc. good luck

    1. Yes, that’s correct, from my understanding, the IBA in the willow water actually assists the formation of callus tissue, and that will form whatever cells the plant requires.

      With cuttings, it will form roots, while with grafts it will form new cambium cells (the green layer under the bark which you need to line up to join the graft).

  25. saeweed is good to add to the willow tea, however… seaweed has a small amount of nitrogen, which almost completely stops root growth. if you can get ahold of some 100% organic marine algae- it contains no nitrogen. the algae i use is 0-4-4. ive even heard of leonardite working well also or extracs of leonardite, such as humic acid. not sure, however, if it contains N.

  26. I have read of willow water in a book by William Cullina and also in a book by Michael Dirr.

    Michael Dirr says you can keep willow water in the refrigerator for 6 years. Mr. Cullina makes a more general statement, saying that willow water can be stored in the refrigerator for several years.

    Michael Dirr: THE REFERENCE MANUAL OF WOODY PLANT PROPAGATION, 2nd edition, Page 33.

    William Cullina: NATIVE TREES, SHRUBS, & VINES, Pages 272-273

  27. Im going to use root hormone for some rare seeds that have short viability, but since it is winter and my willow has dropped its leaves long ago, can I still use it for willow water? Yesterday I did an experiment: I chopped a 1-2 year twig and put it in water and placed infront of the fireplace. The twig looked dead and collorless both on the outside and inside, but after one hour the twig was filled with small white dots all over. (I guess they are roots forming? ).

    Anyway, my question is, are there any significant seasonal variation in the presence of hormones in willow? Can I use it all year round?

    1. Hi Mikkel, root hormone is only for rooting cuttings, not germinating seeds.

      Since you would only root cuttings during their growing season, you would therefore only use willow only when it is growing , not when it is dormant.

      The small white dots that appeared after you soaked the dormant willow branches in water in front of the fire are just air bubbles emerging from the plant tissue, no plant can show growth of root tissue within an hour. Not even willow grows that fast!

      If your rare seeds are meant to be germinated in spring or summer, then it is best to wait until then as often plant growth is not only regulated by temperature but daylight length too. Techniques such as using heating mats to apply bottom heat to seedling trays works well for many seeds, but I recommend that you check what the requirements are for the rare seeds in terms of light, temperature, humidity, sowing depth, etc.

  28. Thanks for your quick response!

    I already made the willow water anyway.

    The seeds are Banisteriopsis Caapi (Ayahuasca), and they only come in late autumn and have a viability only for a month or two, so it couldnt wait any longer. Im groing them under LED lights, so hopefully it will work out.

    I have done tissue culture before and know that stuff like BAP and Kinetin are great for germinating seeds in sterile envirenment, so I figured that difficult seeds under normal conditions could benefit from root hormone as well, but I dont know.

    I soaked half of them in the willow water for 4 hours now, and half of them in honey water, so at least lets call it an experiment.

  29. Excellent information. Growing up in Europe, I have always known of the many uses of willows (including their use for carpet beaters – rather painful when used for corporal punishment), but I have never heard of willow water. As I am a compulsive propagator of plant material (I had over 400 rooted lavender cuttings last year), I have been using mainly honey because of its antiseptic qualities, but now I am keen to try willow water. As we are now heading into late summer in Australia, is it too late to take new branches to make willow water?

    Also, what kind of willow do you have growing in a pot as I want to do likewise. My garden is too small and I don’t think that the ACT government would appreciate it if I planted a willow on their land.

    Can you also advise how well willow water works with Australian natives, such as Callistemon and Grevilleas?

    1. Hi, Im growing weeping willow (Salix babylonica) in a pot.

      The brnches are still growing in summer so they should work for making plant rooting hormone.

      Cuttings of Australian natives are normally treated with rooting hormone so the willow water will work when propagating them.

      1. Hi again and thanks for the advice.

        Since then I have gone out and picked some weeping willow branches, made willow water and also placed a bundle of sticks into water. I now have some 25 rooted willow cuttings.

        So if there is someone in Canberra who would like to grow their own weeping willow in a pot, I gladly share the cuttings.

  30. i’m trying to root coffee plant cutting.Is it even possible to root a coffee cutting ? The tropical here is hot humid with no cold.Can you suggest any tropical tree that i can use to extract natural rooting hormone ?

    1. You can root coffee Coffea arabica cuttings, but they do take a long time to root, about 8 weeks or longer I believe, they are not easy cuttings to propagate. Best to use semi-woody or woody cuttings with rooting hormone. They can also be propagated by air layering apparently.

      Willows don’t grow in the tropics, I’m unaware of any tropical plant that contains natural rooting hormones that can be extracted. If anyone has any idea, many people would like to know!

  31. Many thanks for sharing your in-depth knowledge it is much appreciated, especially the bit about the tips having the highest concentration of active ingredients.

  32. For those who have no willow growing, can willow tips be harvested when fresh and then dried for use in places willow does not grow? General question–can dried willow be used as effectively as long as it was harvested correctly?

    1. From the references I can find on the chemical properties of IBA, it is meant to be stable at room temperatures, it melts at 125 degrees celcius and decomposes before it reaches boiling point, so that would suggest that it should keep as a dried product, but I’m only speculating here, the only way to know is to try dried willow twigs to see if they work!

  33. Great information! Only I do not find a clear suggestion as to the ratio which is most effective. That is, about what total length of small willow branches, cut into pieces, in what quantity of water? Can it be made too weak or too strong??

  34. The beauty of this technique is that you don’t need exact proportions, that’s a modern preoccupation of exactness which isn’t something we need to be too concerned with, mainly because its a completely unnatural state of affairs. Unlike the artificial systems which humans create which aim for unrealistic uniformity, Nature thrives on variation – there is biological variation in all living organisms, and as a result, the percentage of IBA will vary (within a certain range) from one willow to another, and from month to month and from one year. Herbal medicines vary similarly, and they’ve worked for centuries across all cultures.

    Most commercial rooting hormones available contain the rooting hormone IBA in a talc dry base in concentrations from 0.1% to 0.8% active ingredient for use with the dry dip method. Liquid applications range from as low as 20ppm to 10000 ppm active ingredient (0.02%-1.0%). Only a tiny amount is used, thats all thats needed. In living organisms, hormones are chemical messengers that regulate biochemical processes over longer periods of time, they triggering sustained changes, they are not needed in huge quantities.

    Its also important to understand the physical properties of the chemical IBA. IBA is not very soluble in water, so only a tiny amount will dissolve into your willow water solution anyway. If we look at the physical properties of IBA, in particular solubility, we see that it is possible to dissolve 34 times more IBA in an acetone than can be dissolved in water.

    IBA Solubility – In water at 20 degrees C (mg /L): 14,700
    IBA Solubility – In organic solvents at 20 degrees C (mg /L): 500,000 (In Acetone)

    With your willow water, put in as much twigs as you can into the container, then cover them with water in either of the two methods described. Only so much IBA can possibly dissolve in water, and that amount works to stimulate root growth.

  35. “Willows dont grow in the tropics” :your words on Feb 2, 2013. Some people say otherwise. Please reconfirm as I live in a tropical country.

    1. Hi Richard,
      I’m not in a tropical climate, so I’m only going by what reference material I can find!
      I know willows grow in sub-tropics of China, but but if you have any information you can share for our readers in the tropical climates, please let us know.
      Much appreciated


  36. Dude! This is fabulous. I live in SE Louisiana and this area has willows growing abundantly everywhere along our waterways. Would you mind if I share this info on other gardening websites and link them here?

    1. Hi Ray, you can describe the article and provide a link back to it, I hope that’s what you mean! Thanks

  37. Please be careful with non-natives, especially if they’re invasive! I live in the Front Range of Colorado and have battled Crack Willows for years. They grow fast, break easily and root from anything. As a friend recently said, “you can Never get rid of them!” That’s almost completely true. Nasty buggers.

    1. Just remember that this is an international site, what’s native to one region is exotic to another (at this point of time only though, it changes over long periods of time!).

      In Permaculture, there aren’t problems only solutions, our approach is that within every perceived problem there is an inherent solution, what you have in your case is an unutilised output – please see my article on the design principle “Attitudinal Principles” =

      If we perform a function analysis on a willow tree – see my article “Each Element Performs Many Functions” – we can see how the outputs of a willow can be utilised constructively so they don’t become a problem.

      The wood of Crack Willow hybrids is used to make cricket bats, it’s a real resource waiting to be utilised.

      Just trying to highlight how “permaculture thinking” works in such circumstances, hope this helps!

  38. Fantastic article! I am sooo excited to try this with blueberry cuttings. I live in NC and my bushes have a bunch of new growth this year that is just starting to harden up a bit. Do you think I could use this willow water to start cuttings?

    1. You can definitely use willow water for blueberry cuttings!

      Blueberries can be propagated from softwood cuttings (4″-5″ inches long) in late spring from the tips of the current season’s growth, or from hardwood cuttings (5″-6″ inches long) when they are dormant and in the middle of winter (to ensure sufficient chilling, usually late Jan through Feb in the US) from strong shoots or “whips” that grew the previous summer.

  39. I have Salix erythrobotrioides for more than 30 years, by hard prunning we kept it 2,5 m high, but our friends with only one sapling from ours tree and pair pergolas in 5 years covers their little garden completely. Thanks for wery useful and perfect article.

  40. The water to willow ratio was not addressed. How much water and how much wood? How do you suggest we make gel from this? Can I use a willow mulch to make the tea? Last but not least, can I give the tea to my plants before i cut clones from them?

    1. To answer your three questions:

      1. Think of it as making tea, the traditional way without a teabag! There are no standardised measurements here. As long as the hormone in the willow dissolves in the water, it will work.

      2.You don’t need to make it a gel, you soak the cuttings in the liquid, and it soaks into them, which is better than a gel that sits on the surface.

      3. If your plants already have roots, then there’s no point giving them rooting hormone. Once you take cuttings from your plants, you want to induce the cuttings to grow roots.

  41. The article at top of this thread is very nice — detailed and informative. I have produced a jar of willow water using the procedure from the article, and new growth from a neighbors tree.

    I do wish to have one bit of clarification!

    The article at top says the willow water can be used up to two months, IF refrigerated in a tight sealed container. However I find statements in other forums such as “keeping a container of ww on my greenhouse workbench”. That would certainly NOT be refrigerated!

    Does the ww quickly loose effectiveness if not cooled? Realistically, how soon is the product no longer useable? Does a willow tree produce new growth throughout the summer, allowing more ww to be produced?

    Thanks for comments………. Robert

    1. Thanks! If you want to keep the willow water for several weeks, it’s best to refrigerate it to slow down the breakdown, it will eventually start breaking down and lose its active constituents as would a glass of herbal tea left outside for a really long time. Typically you’d use it all in a few days if you propagate large batches of cuttings.

      A willow tree is growing through spring and summer, and therefore will have green wood that contains IBA hormone that you can use..

  42. Can you freeze willow water? Living in the Finger Lakes region of NYS I often find myself with idle time in the grey months, and experimenting with plants. I think ww would come in handy….

    1. Looking up the chemical handling information for indolebutyric acid (IBA), the active component in willow water, we find that we are instructed to “keep from freezing”, so, the answer is no, you definitely cannot freeze willow water, but you can keep it cool in the refrigerator to make it last longer.

  43. I am hoping to propagate some Leyland cypress cuttings with willow water. Once I soak the cutting in willow water do I have to plant it in dirt or can I just keep it in water until it roots?

    1. I found fascinating your article about the willow tree and it is true that soaking a thick branch from this tree, it grows root easily and it sure. Did mine :0). I have 3 willow small branches that grew new roots and leaves from the cuttings in a simple tap water in a vase .

  44. I have a weeping willow tree and it’s huge. Thank you so much for all that information on making Willow Water for rooting plants. Love your videos and will continue to see them and tell people about this unique website. Greatly appreciated : )

  45. Hi! I enjoy your article! I love weeping willow tree. There is one growing wild with other trees & such. I broke off 5 branches&put them in water& left outside. It’s mid~summer when I did this&the clippings first turned brown & looked dead but then they sprouted leaves&roots&still in water. I’m getting ready to put them in rich soil&keep them outside until it gets cool.I’m in Michigan&&the winters are mild so I think they be okay.After last frost I will plant them outside.Wish me luck!

    1. Not really sure, I’ve checked for research papers on other plant that contain IBA, and it appears that Indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) was identified as an endogenous compound in leaves and kernels of maize or corn (Zea mays). It has also been found in tobacco and cypress leaves. I can’t say what levels of IBA these contain, or how you would extract them. Then there is the question whether any of these grow in semi arid tropics? You would know what grows in your climate better than me!

      1. Thank you. we got maize, tobaco and some varieties of cypress. Can’t we apply same procedure to these plant parts? And we got plenty of cotyledon type succulents, country borage (karpooravalli) and money plants which are known for their fast rooting property. Is there any possibility of using them in this regard?
        COUNTRY BORAGE (karpooravalli) link :

    2. Hi Mahesh, why not try, it can’t hurt to set up some tests and see what results you get! Use several cuttings for each test, one test will be the control group, no plant rooting hormones, then a similar amount of cuttings for each separate treatment, it would be a very simple side-by-side comparison.

  46. I would like to follow your advice, but wish to add some of the results to small cubes, with a fairly firm gel consistency . Firm enough to have the cuttings stand erect. Can you suggest a clear gelling substance? Gelatin, agar,agar, etc. Thank you

  47. Thank you for the article.
    Could I collect the stems and make any other time the willow tea or i must cut fresh stems every time i want to make the tea?
    I ‘m sorry if the answer exists allready in the comments, I do not understand english very well so it is hard for me to read all the comments.
    I ‘d really appreciate your answer.

  48. Made some willow water,it fermented and foamed like beer or something when I opened it ,should it be fine to use,it was in a jar for two days(Friday night-sunday night)

  49. I read your article today. Luckily I have several willow trees in my office (Pakistan, Islamabad, telecom company named PTCL) & told my office boy to bring me a willow branch. The branch is now on my office table. it is 1.5 feet long with leaves & its 2 mm thick but not very juicy. Will it works for rooting water?

    1. Please see the first step in the instructions:

      1.Collect young first-year twigs and stems of any of willow (Salix spp.) species, these have green or yellow bark. Dont use the older growth that has brown or gray bark.

      If it doesn’t match this description it’s not suitable for making willow water.

  50. Thanks for the good info, will try it this spring. So much to learn, so little time…..
    We recently had a dam built on our property and are looking at ways to stabilize the soil. I understand that it is possible to dig a shallow trench and lay a long willow branch into it lengthwise. This will then allow multiple tree’s to start growing from that one branch. This method was tested by our local conservation team and it worked well.

  51. This has been very helpful! I don’t have a willow tree so I drove around till I saw one and asked the owners for a clipping. I’m making the tea right now! Question: What do I do after I soak the roots? Do I put the cutting in water, dirt, or air? If dirt, how wet should I keep it? Should I water it with water, or more willow tea? Also, can I do this with raspberry clippings?

  52. lol..GREAT POST, THANK YOU FOR THE INFO!!! Im about to try this on some cuttings.
    But, after reading some of the responces, I’ve concluded “willow water” is worse than lead poisoning. hahaha..Did anyone see the coment about the acne cream at walmart??? haaaaaaaaaa!!! priceless!!!

  53. I buy willow barkmfrom Good Earth in Broad Ripple Indiana. Can I make willow water out of that? They sell it as an asprin alternative. Do you think that product has IBA in it?

    1. Willow bark is sold as a herbal preparation that contains salicylates, hence its use as an aspirin alternative, actually to put that in the correct historical context, willow bark was the original, the synthetic ‘aspirin’ is a copy of the natural medicine! It doesn’t contain IBA. As I’ve mentioned in the first step of the instructions, “1.Collect young first-year twigs and stems of any of willow (Salix spp.) species, these have green or yellow bark. Dont use the older growth that has brown or gray bark.” Hope this helps.

  54. Great article! I want to make growth plant regulator too. There’s no willow here in my country. I heard that corn leaf contain IBA too. Is that true? And do you have any idea how to extract IBA from corn leaf? really need help, thanks!

  55. are there any natural plant substitutes for making rooting hormone apart from willow tree?

  56. Does this work on transplants? My wife doesn’t think so, but I’d like to try it on some pea transplants if it makes the roots grow well.
    Am headed out to the willow tree now:)

    Can you comment on honeybees visiting moss in the shallow pond under the willow tree? Would there be any connection with bees’ needs and willow water?
    Here is my post of still photos and a short video…

    1. Transplanted seedlings already have roots, so I don’t think that willow water would help, in the horticulture industry when we transplant seedling we water them in with seaweed extract (such as ‘Seasol’ Seaweed Extract) as this is rich in minerals and plant growth factors, and stimulates healthy root growth (on plants that already have roots, not cuttings of course).

      I suspect that the bees are visiting the moss in the shallow pond near the willow to get water, but looking at your photographs they appear to congregate there in large numbers so perhaps there is something else that is attracting them also, perhaps the moist moss is cool, not really sure but thanks for the amazing pictures!

    1. Acne treatments use salicylic acid, which is the same stuff that’s in both aspirin and in willow bark, and there are web sites on the internet that explain how to use it for that purpose, but herbal medicine is outside the scope of this website, and as a disclaimer we don’t dispense medical advice.

  57. Most interesting article………, all those years not knowing and now can share with my grandson, a keen gardener at the age of 7 !

  58. Hi Angelo. Firstly may l say how inspiring what you are doing both here with the website and blogs, and with your urban site, is to many. Thank you!
    My question regarding this topic is that being deciduous, is there a better time to try to extract the SA and IBA, and also to attempt to strike willow cuttings themselves?
    We live in Gippsland, and having just found this article was so inspired that we wanted to try these things immediately. However the willow we sourced appears to be getting ready to hunker down for the winter, and as such this got us to wondering if the grow tips would contain much of either SA or IBA at the moment, and whether the cuttings we took from it would take root considering it is heading toward dormancy? Perhaps we are better served waitng until the new growth appears in the spring?
    We were hoping you may have some thoughts on this.

    1. Thanks, you’re welcome!

      The best time to take willow cuttings (and generally all other deciduous tree cuttings for that matter) is late winter while the tree is dormant – see my article “Propagating Hardwood Cuttings” –

      In the article, I mention:
      Indolebutyric acid (IBA) is a plant hormone that stimulates root growth. It is present in high concentrations in the growing tips of willow branches. By using the actively growing parts of a willow branch, cutting them, and soaking them in water, you can get significant quantities of IBA to leach out into the water.”
      The tips would be growing during the growing season of course, which would be from spring through to summer, so that would be the best time to harvest the material.

      All willow bark contains SA, and winter cuttings can be used for IBA, it is still present in winter cuttings, probably in lower quantity, but there are additional compounds there also, it’s uncertain what their effect is, but willow water made with winter cuttings will still be effective, perhaps it won’t work as well. It would be great to see someone test this and report back!

      In the “Effect on rooting by- and analysis of water based extracts of woody and herbaceous shoots of Salix smithiana Willd.”
      Nilsson, sa (2005) Rotningsstimulerande effekt och kemisk analys av vattenbaserad extraktion av vedartade och rtartade skott av Salix smithiana Willd.. Dept. of Crop Science, SLU. Examensarbeten inom hortonomprogrammet vol. 19.

      – we can read the following findings:
      Cuttings of Lonicera xylosteum L. were treated with willow extract to study the response in rooting capacity. The extracts were prepared by mixing chopped pieces of Salix x smithiana Willd. with water in a warring blender. The investigation comprised 2 types of salix extracts based on differences and dynamics between twigs in winter dormancy and twigs with new shoots.” … “cuttings were treated with extract from salix in comparison with a control treated with water”… “Culturing tests showed that salix extract from winter twigs gave more roots than a control but the roots were not longer”… “The culturing test also showed that there is a difference between extract from winter twigs and extract from new shoots”… “The following substances were found in salix extract: D-Salicin, Catechin, Ellagic acid and Saligenin. D-Salicin was found only in extract from winter twigs.

      1. Hi I wonder if you could advise me please. My brother has just bought me a weeping willow as he knows it’s my favourite tree, but… husband says we can’t plant it as it would damage our drains/foundations, the house has previously suffered some subsidence. Could I keep the willow in a pot?? If so how big would it need to be?

      2. The great news is that you can grow a willow tree in a pot, I’ve had mine growing in a 50cm wide plastic pot for three years now. The pot has a matching plastic dish underneath so the water pools in there rather than running out, which is great in summer as it stops it drying out. The willow tree will grow quite large in winter, so I just prune it back in late winter. It’s like a really big bonsai, and you can make cuttings from it to make more willow trees.

    1. There is a curious story about how the ‘weeping willow’ was given its botanical name and was associated with sadness, and as you will see this was actually a mistake!

      It took a bit of searching but I found the source of the story, I found it in the book by Diana Wells – “Lives of the Trees; An Uncommon History

      In her book, she describes how Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, made a mistake with his trees – “… Linnaeus named this tree, with its pendulous branches, Salix babylonica, commemorating the willows in the Bible. The Jews, exiled to Babylon, wept when we remembered Zion [and] we hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. The weight of the heavy hanging harps supposedly pulled down the willow branches, which remained pendulant ever after. Scholars later spoiled the story by deciding that those biblical trees were most likely poplars and not willows at all, and it seems that weeping willows originated in China, not in Babylon. By then they were named, though, and Babylonian willows have wept ever since.”

      That’s the reason why!

  59. will cuttings from pussy willow also make usable willow water for rooting ( I have tons of pussy willow but have not identified any white willow or weeping willow )

    1. To quote step 1. in the article – “1.Collect young first-year twigs and stems of any of willow (Salix spp.) species, these have green or yellow bark. Dont use the older growth that has brown or gray bark.

      Yes, pussy willow is a Salix species and will definitely work 🙂

  60. I’ve had a little issue with my “tea” going bad. How soon after putting water with the twigs should i put it in the refrigerator?

    1. You should put it in the refrigerator at the completion of step 5 of the instructions.

  61. Mr. Admin Angelo has answered your question Kayla,
    but ….. I might add : imagine you are making a cup of TEA (:
    You can leave your [normal] tea sitting around for at least a few days without it going ‘off.’
    You are using willow twigs instead of ‘ ceylon ‘ tea : same difference !!

    1. Before, i had let the “tea” sit uncovered in a bowl outside of the refriderator, since the instructions said to let the tea soak with the twigs for a few days in order to extract the most hormone. But after a few days, a white fuzz began to grow on the water’s surface. Could you please tell me what i did wrong?

      1. After cutting the twigs from the willow tree, rinse them under the tap to make sure they’re clean and not covered in dirt. Also use a jar as it has a smaller opening, less things fall in that way.

  62. great article, i like taking cuttings & using jiffy pellets/rockwool till they’re strong enough to be re planted, would you recommend soaking the pellets/cubes in willow water or normal water & just use the willow water to spray the dome with?

    1. With the methods you’re using you would be better off soaking the pellets/cubes in willow water.

  63. i have 4 cuttings in water, 2 in willow water 2 in plain water, lets see which shows first (or stem root!) 🙂

  64. I was wondering if you can use Whitewillow extract to make Willow water? And if you can, do you know how I would go about that? Thanks so much for any info you can give 🙂

    1. If it’s a Salix species, and I’m assuming you’re referring to Salix alba (white willow), then the answer is yes, you can use it.

      1. Thank you! Do you have any idea on what the ratio of extract to water would be? If not I could always play around with it and figure it out but why not ask :-). Thanks again.

      2. The extract is used as is, please re-read steps 5 and 6! 🙂

  65. Hi I live in Ghana (West Africa) and am much interested in this root hormone but I have not found this tree in Ghana. Do you perhaps know if it can be grown here in Ghana? Or you know of any species in this family growing in Ghana. thanks

  66. Hi,

    I have some White Willow Bark extract from the health food store. Could I just mix this with water to use as a rooting hormone?

    1. No, that just contains salicylates, it’s a herbal preparation that is used in the same way as aspirin tablets!

      1. I’m a little confused now… I noticed after scrolling back up through the comments that you had mentioned to another commenter that they COULD use White Willow extract. Can you clarify?
        Thanks! 🙂

      2. I was assuming the previous comment was referring to willow extract that they made themselves using the growing tips of the branches of a white willow as per the instructions in this article!

        If they assumed that willow extract always means dried willow bark powder you buy from a health food shop then they’ve been very naughty to assume that and not state it!

        Hope this helps 🙂

  67. How much of the willow water should I add to a 5 gallon bucket to water newly planted plants to induce root growth? Willow water sounds like an awesome way to go.

    1. As I’ve mentioned in a previous comment, willow water is a plant rooting hormone for use on cuttings to make new roots grow.

      If you want to encourage root growth in new plants that already have roots, use seaweed extract – it contains plant growth stimulating substances called cytokinins. The application rate is written on the label, typically you use two capfuls of liquid seaweed extract to a large watering can and that can cover two square metres of garden.

  68. Is all seaweed is good for making extract, and how can I make the extract ? I like your article and I think it will help me to teach in my project we are doing in my village in Ghana.


  69. Great article thank you so much I learned a lot and I’m getting ready to go try it now. One thing I was looking for it how to preserve or if there was a way to preserve the green on corkscrew willow branches.

    1. I’m not aware of any way to preserve the willow water beyond what I’ve written in the article. Would dried twigs work for preserving the raw material? Someone would need to test that, it will take some work to figure out if that’s possible.

  70. I thank you for the information I gleaned from this. I am Native American and the pain relief I knew about. I also know willow is used for water dousing. I plant willow in wet places to absorb extra moisture and water. I love Willow trees!

  71. I really like your post, and willows. Could you tell me if I can use dried stems instead of fresh ones to make the willow water? I have another question, if willow proprieties are also good against root infection, would it be useful to use willow water for plants that are already rooted? Thank you.

  72. sweet article! I got here from searching how to propagate Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Sequoia) and Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood)! I have some great redwood trees over here in CA that I’m starting to grow. should be a willow around here somewhere..

  73. It’s beautiful on theory, but this method favors the trasmission of plant diseases (virus, fungus and bacteria). I prefer to buy (ready for use) or make (using AIB in pure form) my own rooting hormone, cleaner and safer.

    1. No, it’s beautiful in practise as well! 🙂
      If you aren’t using diseased plants, which you shouldn’t be, then there is no problem with diseases.
      Plants are often propagated from hardwood cuttings without using anything other than a good propagating medium, this method makes it easier and improves the success rate with rooting.

  74. Hi, I am doing this for an experiment so thank you so much for the info! just a quick question, around how many twigs and how much water should i add? like rough proportions? please help! 🙂

    1. Instructions are your friend! 🙂
      You can’t go wrong with the steps provided, choose either method:
      a) Place the chopped willow twigs in a container and cover with boiling water, just like making tea, and allow the tea to stand overnight. OR
      b) Place the chopped willow twigs in a container and cover with tap water (unheated), and let it soak for several days.

      To give you exact amounts:
      1. first select your container – that is what determines the amounts of water and twigs, perhaps use a jar or an old cup.
      2. add enough willow twigs to nearly fill the container, don’t fill all the way to the top, some leave space.
      3. put exactly enough water to cover the twigs, which is why we left space so the water isn’t too close to the top which might spill easily.
      All done!

  75. Thanks for the article I love the weeping willow. I never thought of growing one in a pot, due to its natural size but I’m going to try. When I coppice the willow I have growing, the roots shed to match. Is that correct?

  76. Hi, enjoyed your article, but as far as I am aware, IBA needs alcohol to extract it and is insoluble in water so the method you describe would only extract the SA. Are there any studies on the chemical breakdown of willow water to confirm or refute this ? Thanks Eric

    1. As someone with a background in the biomedical sciences, I question your question!
      Hmmm, too quick to jump on the “show me the science” bandwagon without thinking it through like a scientist! 🙂
      Let’s think this through logically, dogma and blind faith in experts has no place in science.

      1. the hormone IBA flows through the plant
      2. all living things contain water
      3. the hormone moves through the plant in a water-based environment to have its effect
      4. if IBA wasn’t water soluble it wouldn’t be able to translocate through the plant and work as a hormone.
      Therefore IBA must be soluble in water! quod erat demonstrandum

      A solute dissolves in a solvent, and the degree to which the solute dissolves will depend on how polar (hydrophilic) or non-polar (lipophilic) the solute is and how polar or non-polar the solvent is. The closer they match the more that will dissolve.

      Water is highly polar, alcohols are fairly polar, but less polar that water. A fairly polar solute such as IBA will dissolve in a highly polar solvent such as water, but will dissolve BETTER in a solvent that is only fairly polar similar to itself. Why not use an alcohol extract for more IBA? Because alcohol is phyotoxic, it’s poisonous to plants!

      Now, to keep the questioners happy, this is what IBA does in plants:

      From the Sigma-Aldrich product catalogue:
      “Indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) is auxin-family plant hormone (phytohormone). IBA is thought to be a precursor of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) the most abundant and the basic auxin natively occurring and functioning in plants. IAA generates the majority of auxin effects in intact plants, and is the most potent native auxin.”

      From a commercial root hormone product description:
      “No Alcohol unlike many gels, EZI-ROOT doesnt use alcohol to dissolve the hormone, therefore is nonphytotoxic to plants. ”

      Exact solubility of IBA in water stated here:
      “IBA is practically insoluble in chloroform, but is soluble in alcohol, ether and acetone (Merck, 1989). The 30 solubility of IBA in water is 250 mg L-1 (EPA, 2010).”
      Indole-3-Butyric Acid (IBA), Technical Evaluation Report, Compiled by the Technical Services Branch for the USDA National Organic Program, June 22, 2011, page 1.

      Merck. 1989. The Merck Index. Item 4871. 11th Edition.

      EPA. 2010. Indole-3-butyric acid – Preliminary workplan and summary document. Registration Review. 553 Case 2330. PC Code 046701. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pesticide Programs. September 2010. 554!docketDetail;dct=FR+PR+N+O+SR;rpp=10;po=0;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0608 555 Document 0001: Federal Register. 9/29/2010. 75, 60117-60119. Document 0002: Preliminary product 556 chemistry data review and human health assessment for the registration review of indole-3-butyric acid 557 (EPA-HG-OPP-2010-0608-0002). Document 0003: Preliminary nontarget organism risk assessment for the 558 registration review of indole-3-butyric acid (EPA-HG-OPP-2010-0608-0003). Document 0004: Indole-3-559 butyric acid preliminary workplan and summary document (EPA-HG-OPP-2010-0608-0004). And 560 Document 0005: Indole-3-butyric acid final work plan (EPA-HG-OPP-2010-0608-0005).

      How do we know it the solution we create has IBA in it? It works! How to test it yourself? Use one set of cuttings without willow water, one without, propagate in an inert medium and compare root length and root numbers.

      No need for expensive chemical analysis, just some serous thinking! Thanks for your question 🙂

    1. I can’t think of any really as the roots have very good access to nutrient solution in hydroponic systems.

  77. HI Friends,

    Rooting hormone, Is it work for all plants cutting? E.g(Nutmeg, Eggplants, Butter fruits and clove … ect)

  78. Thank you for the super information I suffer with arthritis and need all the help I can get will let you know how I get on,long live the super Willow yours Dock

  79. pls help me
    i have willow bushes growing in my yard,i am struggling to get them to bring out new shoots from the leaves eye.

  80. Hello, thank you for the information ! You could use this willow tea to dissolve it together with tap water in an aerocloner machine (propagation by aeroponic system)

    1. Hi Matias, that’s an excellent idea, willow water should get great results in an aeroponic propagator to stimulate root growth. I would filter the willow water through some clean folded cloth to remove any ‘bits’ so they don’t clog the sprayer. If you test this out, please let us know how well it works. Thanks for sharing this suggestion.

  81. Hi Angelo, Thanks for the great article. I’m in Metro Melbourne and would love to know where can i find a suitable willow tree. Do you know of any nearby CBD or surrounding suburbs? Appreciate your help.

    1. You’ll find them mostly along rivers and creeks, though you see the occasional tree in a public park or roadside, they’re unmistakeable. As to exact locations, sorry I can’t recall from memory!

  82. If rooting cuttings with a bubbler setup (fish tank aerator) can you add the willow water to the bubbler water & just leave it for a couple of days? I change the water every 2-3 days so can I add willow water each time I change it? With the bubbler keeping the water aerated I have noticed it doesn’t cause stem rot as fast as in still water. Hoping to get roots real fast!

  83. Interesting and intriguing article! Your earlier statement, ” … stem as thick as a human thigh will take root.. “. Does this mean the ‘stem’ will grow as a tree ? (or just produce shoots). My reason is: our Willow fell over last night and I’d like to propagate the largest stem possible to rapidly replace our shade tree.
    Thank you for your time and wisdom!

    1. A big willow branch planted in the ground will grow roots and form the trunk of the tree. Just dig a nice deep hole so it roots deeply, put the branch in, fill with soil and water in well.

      1. I’ve placed the cut end of the branch in the lake to keep hydrated for a couple of weeks until we plant. Is this adequate? Or should the cut end be in a container to retain the hormones ?

      2. The cut willow branch in water should grow its own roots in a few weeks!

  84. Can I please get your input here. If I was to purchase IBA as a rooting hormone it comes on a form only soluble in alcohol which is then diluted, there is a “salt” form that is water soluble. Is there any studies showing alcohol vs water extraction specifically on willows? Or is it a matter of the efficiency of extraction needed in large vs small scale extraction?

    1. As I’ve mentioned before, IBA is slightly soluble in water, 250 mg/L at 20 C (In benzene: >1000 g/L; in acetone, ethanol, diethyl ether: 30-100 g/L; in chloroform: 0.01-1 g/L). The acid is used as a rooting hormone, not the salts of the acid. IBA as a rooting hormone product is most often sold as a powder or gel, sometimes a liquid, sometimes in combination with other plant hormones, fungicides, etc and ready to use.

      Also, IBA was first produced synthetically in a laboratory, and in 1935 they discovered that the new synthetic auxin indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) promoted rooting, then IBA was discovered in plants later on in 1954! Commercially, IBA is NOT produced by extracting it from plants, it is chemically synthesized by heating indole, gamma-butyrolactone, and sodium hydroxide , followed by acidification of the product.

    1. IBA is stable at 2-8C and should be stored in a cool place, decomposes when exposed to light, has a melting point of 124.5 C and is very stable in neutral, acidic and alkaline media. This would suggest that you may be able to put the willow branch tips for making willow water in the refrigerator in the vegetable crisper area wrapped in newspaper, and use them when you need them.

  85. This article was a great help to me. Thanks for keeping up with all the posts too, No need to reply.

  86. Great infirmation about the willow!! Unfortunately this tree is not found in Africa (East Africa) how can you help me to get the seed or etra information. Do you have another wsys or altenatives methods to make home made Plant hormone?

    1. Yes, it will work on succulents. When propagating succulents from cuttings, remember to let the cut area dry out to prevent rotting, some people leave the cutting to dry in a shady spot for a day to let it heal, then plant. Succulents grow so easily from cuttings I doubt you really need to use rooting hormone, but using it won’t hurt.

  87. Thanks so much for the clear descriptions! I just learned and practiced lavender propagation from cuttings for the first time today, so it was really great to read more about the principles that we were using. I have added a link to this article in my own blog ( and would love your thoughts! I will be posting my lavender propagation 101 in 2 days. Cheers! Love your work!

  88. Absolutely epic informative article.A few photos of willow varieties and leaf of willow plants suitable for willow extract would have certainly helped

  89. Hi I made the water but forgot to remove the leaves/pollen. Will this water damage my plants?

    Thank you!

    1. Forgetting to remove the leaves and flowers won’t affect the effectiveness as a rooting hormone, so it will be perfectly fine to use.
      It probably won’t store well though when fouled by these extra things in the mix!

  90. As a side note, if you can start your plants inside 4″ net pots planted inside your final pot, you’ll create a root system of epic yielding proportions. Check out “4 inch root rule” online. My plants are barely 35 days old (from first day planted), about 30″ tall and extremely bushy!

  91. I am in Jamaica where their are different genomes of Willow trees other than weeping, many of them with pine like needles instead of leaves. Will this still be useful for rooting?

    1. You would need to identify which species of the genus Salix they are, then do an internet search to see if they contain Indolebutyric acid (IBA) and Salicylic acid (SA).

    1. The rooting hormone is made from the young first-year twigs and stems of any of willow (Salix spp.) species, these have green or yellow bark – they’re too thin to peel off the bark.

      Dried twigs may work if you dry them in a cool place away from direct light, much like how you dry any culinary herbs. According to PubChem “Indolebutyric acid may be susceptible to direct photolysis by sunlight, since it has an absorbance at 290 nm.” That means the active compound breaks down when exposed to direct sunlight. The data sheets for IBA state “PLEASE KEEP THE PRODUCT UNDER -20C FOR LONG-TERM STORAGE.” which suggests that if you dry the twigs, they’re best kept in a container in a cool, dark place. If you want to try using dry willow twigs to make rooting hormone, I’d love to hear how it goes! Thanks

    1. Most orchids are propagated by division, or by separating plantlets that grow. Many Dendrobium orchids can be propagated from stem cuttings, but the plantlets that grow from the buds of the stem cuttings are detached and replanted, so there’s no need to get the cuttings to root.

  92. Wow! This was the exact information I was seeking…and more! Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    1. Hi, thanks for your question. I hope I have understood your question correctly – you’re asking if you can take cuttings of willow to to make willow water at any time of the year?

      In the article I mention that you need to collect young first-year twigs and stems of any of willow (Salix spp.) species that have green or yellow bark, as these have higher concentrations of the plant hormone, and not to use the older growth that has brown or grey bark.

      During spring and early summer the actively growing young twigs will have green or yellow bark, but as they get older in autumn and winter they will harden off and become woody with brown or grey bark, so it’s best to harvest willow twigs when they have leaves and are still young.

      If you’re asking about taking cuttings to grow a new willow tree, you can take cuttings with leaves and put them in water to form roots, or put dormant cuttings without leaves in the ground or in a potting medium in a container or pot and wait until spring for the leaves to emerge and the roots to grow.

      Hope this helps.

  93. Im working on this experiment right now, to collect hormone for rooting new plants. I have several long branches in a bottle of water to root, to produce willow water as well as to keep growing as a kind of hydroponic plant as itself and ensure fresh willow cuttings as needed. I got these off a huge beautiful tree last night, the ends of the larger branches. Ive also taken shorter stem pieces off the tops of those cuttings and put them in a separate container, keeping in mind more growth or plant energy is at the new tips. Also took about 1-cm small piece of branch with a leaf node on it, to put one each into 3 little jars where I have spider plants and a few cuttings of Callesia repens to root. Per this article, the plant chemicals/hormones will leach out into the water and help the cuttings root. Keep in mind, those two species of plants are known to root very easily on their own, and the baby spiders have been in the glass for about 2 weeks already. I also have a peperomia plant that I got as a free cutting and it almost died, I put it in a humidity bag under a daylite desk lamp and its doing well, along with the leaves that fell off and were put into potting mix to root themselves. I will put willow water on those to see if it helps them along. Im not a scientist or a grower of any kind. Simply a regular person who likes houseplants and thinks this willow water thing is a really cool idea and what have I got to lose by trying it. Also the willow branches themselves smell nice; clean, fresh kind of natural fragrance which is nice indoors. Reminds me of spring/summer rain storm smell.

  94. I use young willow twigs to help propagate cutting. My technique is none of the above. I put the willow twigs in with the cuttings, propagating in water. I’ve recently started a project with above to see if the added willow twigs are helping the cuttings to root. Using to identical cuttings, take from same area on mother plant. 1 placed into water with willow twigs & the other, without. So far, the “combination propagation ” have developed roots, 2 main nodes. The other one is not showing any sign of roots.
    Very impressed with the results so far.

    1. Thanks, your experiment shows that the willow twigs are releasing rooting hormone that help the other plants root, that’s excellent! Would be great to do an experiment setting up three different tests, one with water alone for a control, one with twigs in the water as you tried, and willow water as I describe in the article to see the difference. 🙂

      1. After seeing the result of my first experiment, I’m eager to expand. I will try and get one more propagation experiment done before it gets to cold & dark here. If you’re interested in updates ect, I’m happy to send them through..

      2. Hi Tina, I would be delighted if you can send updates of your experiments, we enjoy sharing that kind of information here, thanks!

  95. My fig cuttings have rooted and have leaves and some growth and are in peat pots. Will the willow water help them at this stage?

  96. cho ti h?i. chng ta c th? l?y n??c l li?u phun ln l cy ?ang gim cnh ???c khng? ti c?m ?n.

    1. “Can I ask you something. Can we get willow leaf water to spray on the leaves of the cuttings? Thanks. ”

      C?m ?n cu h?i c?a b?n. N??c l li?u ???c lm t? cnh cy v thn cy c v? mu xanh ho?c vng. Nh?ng l li?u khng ???c s? d?ng. Nh? n??c l li?u vo ??u cnh gim ?? m?c r?, n??c ny khng c tc d?ng ln l cnh gim.

      Thanks for your question. Willow water is made from twigs and stems with green or yellow bark. The willow leaves are not used. Put willow water on the cut end of cuttings to grow roots, it does not work on the leaves of cuttings.

      1. ti c?m ?n b?n nh, ti ? s? d?ng 1 s? lo?i thu?c gim cnh nh?ng khng c hi?u qu? v?i lo?i cy m ti ?ang mu?n gim cnh. ti c dng cnh c?a cy li?u ? v?i n??c si 24 ti?ng nh? b?n h??ng dn. ??n by gi? ? ???c 7 ngy r?i, cnh v l c?a cnh gim v?n t??i.T?i nay ti s? ti?p t?c t??i n??c ? ny cho cy . hi v?ng l n s? c k?t qu? t?t. .

      2. “I thank you, I have used some kind of cuttings, but it is not effective for the plant that I am trying to cut. I have used willow branches incubated with boiling water for 24 hours as a guide. It’s been 7 days until now, the branches and leaves of the cuttings are still fresh. Tonight I will continue to water the plants. Hope it works out well.”

        L?u r?ng m?t s? cy khng th? pht tri?n t?t khi gim cnh, ho?c chng c th? kh pht tri?n t? cnh gim v c th? c?n ?i?u tr? ??c bi?t tr??c khi chng c th? m?c r?.

        “Be aware that some plants can’t grow well from cuttings, or they may be difficult to grow from cuttings and may require special treatment before they can grow roots.”

      3. Cy ti gim cnh l cy: Osmanthus fragrans ? ??t n??c c?a chng ti c nhi?u ng??i gim ???c cy ny nh?ng khng ai ni cho ti bi?t.

      4. “The tree I cut from the branch is a tree: Osmanthus fragrans in our country there are many people who can cut this tree, but no one told me. ”

        ?? nhn gi?ng Osmanthus fragrans, s? d?ng g? m?m (c thn mu xanh l cy) ho?c hom g? bn c?ng (n?i ph?n d??i c?a v?t c?t b?t ??u chuy?n sang mu nu xm) ???c l?y vo ma xun.
        – C?t di 7-10cm (3-4 “), c hai b? l
        – c?t ?i l ?? gi?m di?n tch b? m?t l v gi?m th?t thot n??c
        – Lm h?i v?t th??ng ph?n g?c c?a v?t c?t b?ng cch c?o b? 1cm (1/2 “) v? ? d??i v?t c?t ?? l? l?p cambium xanh bn d??i
        – N?u khng kh khng ?m, dng ti ni lng che v?t c?t v bu?c ch?t xung quanh ch?u.
        Lm theo cc h??ng d?n sau ?? nhn gi?ng hom g? m?m –

        To propagate Osmanthus fragrans, use softwood (with green stems) or semi hardwood cuttings (where the bottom of the cutting begins to turn grey-brown in colour) taken in spring.
        – take cutting 7-10cm (3-4″) long, with two sets of leaves
        – cut the leaves in half to reduce the leaf surface area and reduce water loss
        – slightly wound the base of the cutting by scraping off 1cm (1/2″) of the bark at the bottom of the cutting to expose the green cambium layer underneath
        – if the air is not humid, cover the cutting with a plastic bag and fasten it around the pot.
        Follow these instructions for propagating softwood cuttings

  97. I have a willow tree but I’m not sure how old it is. One year a bug got to it but it cleared up and the trunk was withering away but the rest of the tree got through it. The top of the tree arched over and planted itself into the ground. How should I fix this or just leave it like this?

    1. Willow trees can be coppiced, that is, they can be cut to the ground and they will regrow. They can also be cut back quite hard and they will recover just fine. The fact that your willow managed to plant itself into the ground shows how easily they grow. The part that touched the ground will have rooted into the ground, so if you cut the self-planted portion to separate it from the main tree, it will grow into a whole new replacement tree!

    1. From the sources I can find, Eucalyptus pulverulenta (Silver-leaved Mountain Gum) is propagated from seed, and not from cuttings! Willow water will work on any plant or tree that can be propagated from cuttings.

Leave a Reply to Angelo (admin)Cancel reply