Chicken Coop Chatter©
There are propagating hormones available in the garden stores, however it is easy, economical and earth friendly to make your own natural propagating hormone from willow (Salix sp.). Any willow species works just fine. I use my Curly Willow (Salix matsudana 'Tortuosa'), to make my natural propagating hormone. The active hormone in willow, indolebutyric acid occurs naturally in all varieties of willow trees. The indolebutyric acid encourages the growth of a strong root system, the willow rooting hormone solution helps inhibit the development of bacteria, fungus and viral disease, giving your new cuttings the best chance of health and rooting benefits.
Willow has been used for thousands of years for it's healing properties and it's known effectiveness in treating chronic headaches and one modern use in making aspirin, that was developed in the 1800s. As far back as 400 BC. willow bark was used to reduce fever and inflammation as well as a natural pain relief. In recent years it has been an approved source of natural plant hormone in permaculture and organic gardening.
Willow grows well in USDA plant zones 5-9. Certain varieties of Willow make excellent privacy screen and living fences. Willow is easy to weave for making baskets, planter boxes, willow wreaths and other outdoor projects, including fences and were very popular tight fences that Basque sheep herders expertly crafted, because of the flexibility and long lasting material that needed very little maintenance. Curly willow is popular in the floral and decorating industries.
Ecologically, willow is used as a natural barrier to prevent soil erosion. The willow is natural habitat for many birds and other wildlife, so it is often planted or seen growing near wetlands or other water sources, where it also serves in filtering toxins from water sources.
Willow cuttings (new growth from any species)
Water (tap water allowed to set 24 hours)
Mason jar or other heat proof container
Felco hand pruners*
Cut the new growth of willow limbs, old growth does not have as much of the active ingredients needed for use. Prepare the water: Either boil water to cover the cuttings or lukewarm tap water. Cut each section of the new growth into 3-4" pieces, removing all leaves. Place each piece into the prepared water. If using boiling water allow to set overnight. If using lukewarm tap water, allow to set several days to extract as much of the active liquid as possible.
Prepare your plant cuttings, removing leaves from the cut end by about 1-2 inches. Dip each cutting into the hormone, and allow to set overnight to absorb the nutrient rich water ,then place each cutting into prepared potting soil. Water well.
You can use the Willow water to water the cuttings for the first couple of times, or you can place a tight fitting lid on the jar and refrigerate for up to 2 months to use in propagating additional plants. Label the jar, with date of preparation and expiration date, so you remember what is in the jar and a use-by date.
NOTE: If you wish to propagate the willow, simply place new growth limbs in water, they root easily and can be planted in prepared soil when the soil temperatures reach at least 50 degrees. Willow grows quickly and loves water and nearly care free, so plant where it will receive plenty of water and little attention after it is established.
Willow can be prone to borers, crown gall and black canker. Be sure to plant well away from power lines, as well as sewer and water lines. The trees have an extensive root system and grow to be 30 feet and more, so allow plenty of growing room for certain varieties. Research the type of Willow you would prefer and learn it's basic care needs and planting requirements.
Note: I use the Felco F-6 Classic Pruner For Smaller Hands, but there are other sizes available. If you do a lot of gardening you will want a good set of hand pruners. Good tools are essential whether for gardening, painting or other endeavors.
Felco F-6 Hand Pruner~~~http://amzn.to/1Uk4KxW
Thanks to Midge K. for allowing me to use her photos of a willow dam created by the Corps of Engineers in Washington State. The woven willow provides a water tight dam, preventing major flooding during heavy rains and snow runoff. The beaver have been onto something from the beginning.
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CREDENTIALS: Certified Oregon State Master Gardener since 1999. Horticulture degree 2001. Study of Herbs and Horticulture Therapy, heavy research and study of all plants and herbs. Gardening a lifetime.