During last permaculture workshop I was happy to have discovered that from willows and poplar trees we can easily obtain a nice rooting hormone solution.

Usually there is no need to use hormonal rooting solutions or powders, now very common and used like miracle-medicines to avoid proper thinking. But homemade willow or poplar solutions can be quite interesting, and will be useful in exceptional situations, when you have difficult seedlings or you need better rooting percentage for a special project.

I immediately tried in the next travel in the Alps with some plants, not because it was needed (I think nobody ever used rooting hormones with sage!!!), but to know a bit more of this tecnique, and then to use with blueberries, that are here quite difficult to propagate, strangely enough.

We made a poplar-tree-tee, with some 1.5cm branches, cut 10-15 days before (even if fresh branches are better, seems it’s working perfectly also with dried ones), immersed in cold water for 24h (the willow version requires warm/hot water for 24h, and I’ll test very soon in Portugal). The tea turned of a light yellow/brown colour (see photo below), and I left the cuttings inside the water also in the extraction period.

Two containers after 24h, just before removing the small pieces of wood.

Now I’ve to wait some time to see the results, but after 48h the sage has already a small root (4-5mm); I think that without this solution it could have had the same. I think I’ll start some investigation on the topic with the local University, as it can be interesting to understand how homemade solutions can be helpful to several situations, apart from rooting stimulants.

At the moment I’ve found some classical articles, and several useful websites, that mostly are confirmation of the results published in 1983 by Leclerc and Chong.

One quite book that seems promising, and I’m going to read better in the next days is “Nursery Manual for Native Plants” – A guide for Tribal Nurseries – Volume One: Nursery Management (available in PDF), where it describes several traditional and simple suggestions for cuttings propagation.
Anyway I hope to find deeper explanations in some permaculture based texts, that usually give a more holistic viewpoint… maybe I’ll find one.

Useful links: