Rooting hormone is a compound that is used to stimulate a leaf, or stem cutting, to grow roots. Although it is possible to grow a plant successfully without using rooting hormones, using it increases the odds of growing a healthy plant. Rooting hormone is used when growing cuttings from garden plants or houseplants.
There are a variety of commercial rooting hormones available that are inexpensive and simple to use. The first step is to take a cutting from the plant that you wish to propagate. A leaf cutting is one leaf, removed at the very base where it extends out from the stem. A stem cutting is a small section of stem with two to three leaves attached.
If the rooting hormone is a powder, pour a small amount onto a dish. It is also necessary to have a small dish of water. Dip the base of the cutting in water so that the hormones will adhere, and then dip the base of the cutting into the rooting hormone. Gently tap off any excess, more is not better with rooting hormones.
The plant is ready to go into the dirt now. Plant the cutting in sterile potting soil and cover it with an overturned glass jar or a clear plastic bag. This will keep the cutting from wilting by holding in moisture, much like a terrarium. Place the cutting in an area where it will receive at least six hours of light each day, but out of direct sunlight. Covered in glass or plastic, it is easy for the plant to get too hot if it receives too much sun.
In about a month, new growth will start to form on the cutting. This is an indication that the plant has developed a root structure underneath the soil. While it is still important to protect the cutting, it is now possible to re-pot the plant or plant it outside.
The process for using a homemade rooting hormone is similar to using a commercially prepared one. The exception is that the step of dipping the cutting in water first can be bypassed, because most homemade mixtures will be liquid. Weeping willows contain a compound that makes an excellent rooting hormone. Soak either the young shoots of a weeping willow; they will have yellow tips, or pieces of the bark, in a container of water. After soaking for 24 hours, the water can be used as a rooting hormone.
Some people have success using honey as a rooting hormone. It is widely accepted that honey contains antibacterial as well as antifungal properties. The honey may allow the cutting to fend off attacks by bacteria and microbes in the soil while it develops roots, or, it may contain a property that acts as a rooting stimulate.