Willow Water

There is more to willow trees than meets the eye. Besides their beauty and elegance, they have another very useful attribute - these trees can help with rooting other plants.

I'm always looking for ways to help the plants in my garden multiply. I guess it's just the farmer in me. Some of the things that I grow, such as showy primrose, really don't need much help at all. They grow from underground stems and from seed.

But other plants, like coleus, verbena, and licorice plant, are more complicated to propagate. I have to take stem cuttings. To make these cuttings root faster I use an old-fashion recipe that requires the stems of willow trees.

Willow trees are some of the easiest plants to root because of the natural hormone found in them. And studies have shown that this same hormone, when used in a solution on other plants, also promotes root growth.

To mix up a batch of willow water simply cut a few branches from a willow tree that are green and supple and about the size of pencil. Then cut the branches into 1-inch pieces and smash them with a hammer. Next, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop the willow stems into the water and remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to steep, stirring occasionally. Once cooled, it is ready to use.

In addition to using willow water for rooting cuttings, you can also pour it around young transplants to help accelerate their root development.