Make willow water to give your spring cuttings a boost!
DIY willow water is pretty simple to make: the name gives you a clue, all you need is willows and some water. Spring is the best time to make willow water as willows (Salix spp.) are bursting with natural growth hormones at this time.
Brews using willow have been used for a long time in gardening folklore. They are used to improve the strike rate of plants grown from cuttings. Instead of buying a commercial chemical based rooting hormone, you can just make a simple brew using willows and water.
Willows are a strong natural source of the acids responsible for stimulating root growth. Anyone who has tried getting rid of a stand of willow will know the power these trees have to restrike. Willows can grow from even the tiniest cutting, and their young growth at this time of the year is particularly potent.
You can use any species of willow to make this brew, but be sure to harvest the newest growth (usually green or yellow in colour) for making it.
Willow branches are easy to forage; they are often a rogue species that goes “weedy” along creeks, gullies and ditches (they are water hungry!) Make sure you use up all the willow you pick, leaving any twigs around on the ground is a surefire way to get a willow tree growing where you likely don’t want it.
All you need to make willow water is:
- Fresh new willow growth, leaves removed
- Chop willow into 4-5cm pieces using secauteurs
- Place in a jar or bucket
- Pour over cold water, until the willow pieces are just covered
- Leave to soak for at least 7 days. The longer you leave it to soak the stronger your brew will be
- Strain out the willow cuttings, reserve liquid
- Soak cuttings in a jar or bucket of the brew overnight before planting to use it as a natural rooting hormone
- Water newly establishing plants with it to help them get their roots growing