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Rooting Hormone — How to Use Rooting Hormone

Using Rooting Hormone to Propagate Plants

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Rooting Hormone — How to Use Rooting Hormone

Powdered rooting hormones are highly effective tools in plant propagation.

Photo © Jon VanZile

Rooting hormone for plants is wonderful stuff. When used correctly, it dramatically increases the odds of success with propogation. It can be used on ornamental plants, as well as corms and bulbs.

What is Rooting Hormone?

Rooting hormones were discovered in the 1930s by Dutch scientists. Today, the most common rooting hormone is a chemical called indole-3-butyric acid, or I3B. It is available in both liquid and powder forms. However, home growers rarely require the liquid form because their volume is so low. As a result, the most common product available in garden centers is the powdered rooting hormone.

Which Cuttings Can I Use?

Rooting hormone will work on a variety of cuttings, including new growth, brittle stems, woody stems, and others. It's also very useful for grafting, and will dramatically increase the success of grafted plants.

Steps to Using Powdered Rooting Hormone

1. Remove the cutting from the parent plant. Use only cuttings from vigorous and healthy plants, and make sure the growing tip is between 2 inches and 8 inches long. The cutting should be taken near a node at the end. Remove any leaves or flowers from the node, and if it's a hard-wood cutting, lightly score the cutting.

2. Moisten the cutting lightly. However, if you're using a rough cutting, like a wood cutting, it is not necessary to moisten it.

3. Dip the cutting into the powder. Immerse the cutting into the powder slightly higher than the planting depth. Shake the excess powder off by lightly tapping the cutting against the edge of the container.

4. Plant the cutting in any high-quality potting medium. Make sure the hole is wide enough that the rooting hormone is rubbed off as you sink the cutting into the soil. Do not allow rooting hormone onto nearby plants or cuttings as it might be toxic to established plants.

5. Tamp down the soil around the cutting to remove air pockets. Keep the cutting warm (at least 60ºF) and moist. Many plants will root better if they are kept out of direct sunlight.

Using Rooting Hormone on Bulbs and Corms

Rooting hormone is also effective as stimulating root production on corms and bulbs. Simply put the bulb or corm in a plastic bag with a small quantity of rooting hormone and shake it to coat with a light layer. Plant.

Cautions with Rooting Hormone

Rooting hormone is effective, but it is a hazardous material. Some manufacturers recommend against using rooting hormone on food plants, so check the label cautions to make sure the variety you're using is safe for food plants. Also, do not dispose of excess rooting hormone in areas where it can contaminate water supplies or soil. It should be treated like any bioactive chemical and disposed of in a solid waste facility.

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