Gardeners may miss out on a key element of propagating cuttings successfully – using rooting hormone. Have you tried to propagate new plants from your favorite plants but not had much success?
Have you excitedly taken plant cuttings from your garden and placed them lovingly in your nursery, only to see them wilting and drooping? Maybe you’ve tried the same on greenhouse plant varieties to no avail.
If you’ve never experimented with rooting hormone, you’re missing out on a big boost in the success rate of your plant propagation.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- Why gardeners use rooting hormone
- The different types of rooting hormone
- How to make natural rooting hormone
- Some of the best rooting hormone products on the market
Top Rooting Hormone Picks At Amazon:
- HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel
- Dip ‘N Grow Liquid Rooting Hormone
- Garden Safe Take Root Rooting Hormone
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What Is Rooting Hormone?
When gardeners want to propagate new plants, they’re often impatient and want to increase the likelihood that a plant will root successfully. This makes sense — we all want our new plants to thrive!
If you’re taking plant cuttings or root cuttings, root hormone helps a both a leaf cutting and stem cutting develop strong roots quicker instead of struggling to survive.
It doesn’t matter what type of rooting hormone you use, only that you use one in general. It’s far more effective than trying to propagate with traditional potting soil or water techniques. You can plant treated cuttings knowing the hormone has you covered.
The long and short of it is this: rooting hormones will never decrease the chance that new plants propagate. They will only increase it.
So why not try them?
Types of Rooting Hormones
Liquid is by far the most common type of rooting hormone, but there are two different formats it’s sold in. The first is a standard-strength rooting hormone that can be used right out of the bottle. The second is a concentrated rooting hormone that must be diluted in order to properly apply it, like Dip ‘N Grow, which has indole 3 butyric acid as its main active ingredient.
When using a ready-to-go liquid hormone, you should pour it into a different container instead of dipping it directly into the bottle. This prevents any disease from contaminating your cuttings.
If you’re using the concentrated form, you must dilute it before you can use it. You may think it’s a hassle to dilute your rooting hormone, but it tends to be cheaper than the ready-to-go format. It also allows you to more closely calibrate the dilution to the plant that you are trying to propagate.
Recommended: Dip ‘N Grow Liquid Rooting Hormone
If you want a more shelf-stable rooting hormone, opt for the powdered version. Hobbyists and commercial gardeners alike are fans of powdered rooting hormone because it lasts longer.
When using powder rooting hormone, dip your cuttings into water first so the powder will adhere to and seal the cut area. Then, pour some powder into a separate bowl or plate to avoid contamination. Finally, dip your wet cuttings into the powder and remove excess rooting hormone.
Recommended: Garden Safe’s ‘Take Root’ Powdered Rooting Hormone
The most popular of the three types of rooting hormone is the gel form. This is my personal choice because I like the most convenient rooting process possible, so powder and liquid are out for me. CloneX is one of those rooting hormones with the active ingredient Indole 3 butyric acid.
All you need to do when using gel rooting hormones is to place the gel in a small container and then dip your cuttings in them. The gel will stick to the cutting, so you do not need to do anything else. Then, root cuttings in a rooting medium, and you’re good to go.
Recommended: HydroDynamics Clone X Rooting Gel
How to Use Rooting Hormone Properly
Using rooting hormone is extremely simple, but there are a couple of steps to make sure you get it right and to make sure your cuttings root successfully.
Here’s a video on how I clone basil using a powdered rooting hormone, along with a step-by-step process below:
Step 1: Gather Your Cuttings
The first thing to do is gather cuttings from a parent plant. Taking a good plant cutting is the subject of another article, but in general, you’ll want to strip off a couple of leaves at the bottom and make a 45-degree cut with a sterilized knife. Then, place the cutting in the same area and prepare for step two.
For some plant species, a vine cutting or even leaf cuttings will also suffice. For leaf cuttings, ensure there is at least 1.5 inches of petiole (or leaf stem) on each of the leaf cuttings.
Step 2: Preparing Your Rooting Hormone
You’ll need to properly prepare your rooting hormone based on the type you purchase.
If you are using a liquid, non-concentrated solution, pour that into a separate container to avoid contamination. If you’re using a concentrated liquid, you’ll need to dilute it and pour it into a separate container.
If you’re using a powdered or gel solution, pour it into a separate container as well.
Step 3: Apply the Rooting Hormone
If you’re using a liquid hormone, all you need to do is dip your cuttings into the solution and set them aside.
Powdered rooting hormone grows roots just as well but will require you to dip your cuttings in water, then roll in the powder, then shake off any excess powder.
The gel rooting hormone is the easiest to use because all you have to do is dip it, and the gel will adhere to your cutting. No need for a rooting hormone increase mid-way through your propagation.
Step 4: Planting Your Cuttings
Now that your rooting hormone is applied, you need to plant your cuttings in a rooting medium. I have an entire article on the best types of growing media, but you can use organic peat moss, potting soil, or rockwool cubes, and they should do just fine.
Once you place your cuttings in your growing media, cover them with a humidity dome or plastic bag and place in an area where they get bright light.
Step 5: Wait For Your Cuttings To Root
While your cuttings are establishing their root systems, make sure that you give them enough moisture. Because they do not have a root system, they will dehydrate quickly unless they live in a high-humidity environment. This is what the humidity dome and daily misting solve.
Once you see new root and leaf development, you can move them to an area with lower humidity as they will be able to sustain themselves.
Making a DIY Rooting Hormone
If you’re more of a DIY type, you can make a homemade rooting hormone with a few different ingredients. The main two ways to make your own rooting hormone are with either honey or willow. Most people do not have access to willow trees but can get their hands on some honey.
Honey Rooting Hormone Recipe
- Boil two cups of water.
- Add a tablespoon of organic honey (you can use processed if it’s all you have).
- Mix together and let the solution cool to room temperature.
- When cool, dip your cuttings into the mixture and continue the propagating process.
Many gardeners report that this recipe produces healthy and vigorous root growth that’s equal to or better than commercial rooting hormones on the market.
The Best Rooting Hormones To Buy
Best Rooting Gel
Hydro Dynamics Clone X Rooting Gel
- Clonex is a high performance, water-based, rooting...
- Contains a full spectrum of mineral nutrients and...
- Supplies hormones to promote root cell development
Clonex is my choice for the best rooting gel on the market. Not only is it affordable, but I’ve never had any problems using it with any plant that I have propagated.
As it is a gel, it will remain in contact with the stem cuttings and seal off the cut area. It includes a full spectrum of all the nutrients and trace elements that a plant needs to stimulate root growth, even on hard woody stems of your favorite woody ornamentals.
The shelf life can be a concern, but I’ve never had any problems using it for up to 4 years after purchasing. In fact, I usually run out of it before a year’s time, so the shelf life has never been a problem for me.
Another good option: General Hydroponics Rapid Start for Root Branching
- General Hydroponics RapidStart 1-0.5-1 is a plant...
- Promotes root growth through nutrient feeding
- Enhances plant vigor and yield
I recommend a lot of General Hydroponics products, because they are great for beginners and often priced well. This rooting hormone is no exception. If you use it in conjunction with their Rapid Rooter Starter Plugs, you have a powerful one-two punch for propagating plants and their stem cuttings successfully and quickly.
Rapid Start is a gel rooting hormone and offers a blend of plant extracts, amino acids, and nutrients all designed to stimulate massive root growth, branching, and overall plant growth. This set of chemicals naturally occurs in the rooting process of any plant. The goal with this product is not only to speed up the rooting process, but to create better roots and a stronger root structure.
Best Liquid Rooting Hormone
Dip ‘N Grow Liquid Rooting Hormone
- Rooting hormone
- Liquid concentrate
- Contains both rooting auxins
This is a fantastic product for two reasons: it comes with a separate container to pour your rooting concentrate into, and also eliminates cross-contamination problems because it contains ethyl and isopropyl alcohol. This means that it sanitizes itself!
One thing to keep in mind is that this is a concentrated rooting hormone, so you will need to dilute it before use. However, it is quite inexpensive, so it is a good pick for a budget-conscious gardener.
Best Powdered Rooting Hormone
Garden Safe ‘Take Root’ Rooting Hormone
If you’re looking for a rooting powder solution, go with Garden Safe TakeRoot. It’s a super cheap way to propagate new plants, because the powdered format is by far the cheapest. The active ingredient in TakeRoot is indole 3 butyric acid, which simulates amino acids plants produce to grow new roots.
However, you’ll need to make sure to avoid cross-contamination. You’ll also need to dip your stem cuttings in water before you dip them in the rooting powder.
I prefer gel rooting hormones, but if you’re set on getting a rooting powder, this is the one to go with.
Go Forth and Propagate Successfully!
No matter which rooting product you go with, know that you are doing right by your cuttings. Because we put so much time and care into our gardens, it’s always heartbreaking when something doesn’t go right.
Why would you want to hamper your chances of success just to save a little money? Pick the right rooting hormone to begin with and get to propagation!