It’s hard to know where to start when you first begin learning about propagating and rooting hormone. Tips and hacks run the gamut in the gardening community on which rooting hormone can produce the best results in your propagation project. Well, I am here to help!
What Is Rooting Hormone?
A rooting hormone is a chemical that stimulates root growth and development when you are propagating plants. It is often used when you want your new plant to root quickly. It is commonly sold in gel, liquid, or powder form.
All plants contain natural rooting hormones, which includes auxin, a growth hormone. However, many gardeners use store-bought rooting hormones to propagate “tough” plants or to aid in the speedy growth of roots.
What’s It Used For?
Rooting hormones are used for propagating your plants or, in other words, for cloning your houseplants. Specifically, rooting hormones are used when your method for growing plants is through cuttings or clippings.
People normally propagate perennial plants, for example, by taking leaf or stem cuttings to grow them into new plants. You dip the base of the cutting into a rooting hormone before planting it into the soil.
What’s In Rooting Hormone?
Rooting hormones contain natural auxins or synthetic compounds. The chief and active ingredient of a rooting hormone is indole-3-butyric acid (IBA).
IBA is a synthetic and non-toxic rooting chemical widely used for plant propagation and root development.
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3 Types of Rooting Hormones
There are three main types of rooting hormones sold in markets: liquid, gel, and powder. However, all three are used the same — you dip the end of the cutting in them before you plant the cutting into new soil. So how are they different from one another?
Available commercially, a liquid rooting hormone comes in two forms: concentrated and ready-to-use. Of course, the latter is more convenient. However, when gardeners would like to customize the strength of the hormones, especially when they’re growing a variety of strains, the concentrated form is the best choice.
Liquid rooting hormones contain IBA (the synthetic form of auxins). Additionally, the liquid form typically has a shorter shelf life, and some liquid rooting hormones require refrigeration.
A convenient type of rooting hormone, the gel form is the most popular among gardeners. It provides a thicker coverage on the cuttings. The gel form also minimizes the risk of damaging the cutting as it is nearly impossible to use too much of it.
The gel form easily coats the cutting’s entire base. The downside of a gel rooting hormone is that it could obstruct the oxygen flow needed to reach the critical areas that produce new roots.
The powder form of a rooting hormone contains a talc-like powdery substance along with the hormone itself. It is known to be a bit less effective compared to the liquid form.
The upside of using powdered rooting hormone is that it is less toxic and easy to use. This is the form of rooting hormone preferred by newbie gardeners.
The 5 Best Rooting Hormones
As you propagate more and more of your own plants, you’ll find your favorites and what works best for you. But here’s a list of some of my top suggestions and those recommended by other plant lovers.
1. Hormex Rooting Powder
Available in 5 different concentrations, with #16 as the strongest and most ideal for stubborn cuttings, Hormex makes life easier for gardeners. This rooting hormone in powder form comes with information on the different levels of strength.
This brand has over 60 years of experience and research in the industry, making them experts in plant propagation. If you have “moderately difficult” to “difficult to root” plants, this is your best bet.
Pros: The helpful guide on the level of rooting hormone strength makes it easy to determine the ideal concentration for a specific plant. The brand claims that it is free of preservatives, dye and alcohol, which is ideal if you are cloning plants for consumption.
Cons: Since the amount of product in each bottle is pretty small, it can get quite expensive.
2. Hormodin 3 Rooting Compound
If you are looking for a rooting hormone to propagate a large number of cuttings, the Hormodin 3 is your best bet. Why? It comes in a large quantity. It has a o.8% level of active ingredient concentration, which makes it super strong.
Pros: The large quantity — it can be used for over 17,000 cuttings. Its strength is suitable for both dormant and hardwood cuttings.
Cons: There is no smaller quantity.
3. HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel
The preferred brand of professional gardeners, HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel has proven to be one of the best gel rooting hormones in the market. This US-made rooting hormone is water-based and contains a full spectrum of trace elements and mineral nutrients.
The brand has been operating since the late 1980s, and this rooting hormone gel can be used in a wide variety of plants. It has a reputation for a high success rate in cloning plants.
Pros: It is convenient and easy to use. The product can last for nearly 5 years or more, according to growers.
Cons: It is sensitive to temperature and should be stored in a refrigerator. You need to transfer the product to a separate container before using.
4. Hormex B1 Rooting Hormone Concentrate
If you are propagating a huge number of plants, Hormex B1 is the ideal rooting hormone in liquid form. It is the ready-to-use type that comes in a large quantity.
With this rooting hormone, you no longer need to adjust its pH level. Less than a teaspoon is all you need to propagate your plant.
Pros: It is ideal for cloning numerous plants. The product claims to prevent “plant shock.” It works with all plant variants and can also be used to stimulate plant growth after propagation.
Cons: It’s expensive. You also have to mix it manually.
5. Dip ‘N Grow Liquid Rooting Hormone
This is for the more experienced gardener as it requires a lot of work to prepare. Dip ‘N Grow, a rooting hormone in liquid form, needs to be diluted in water. The product comes with a measuring cup and a container of liquid, because you’ll be the one doing all the mixing.
Pros: Powerful and potent liquid rooting hormone. You can manipulate to your desired strength. It contains two rooting auxins.
Cons: This is hard work and not ideal for newbies. It can also be wasteful if you only need a small amount.
How to Use a Rooting Hormone
As a powerful chemical, a rooting hormone should be used correctly. Otherwise, it can cause damage to or the death of your plants. Except for rare products, rooting hormones are generally used strictly for propagation. If you feed a rooting hormone to mature plants, you will damage their rooting system.
Powder Form: How to Use
Dip the base of the cutting into the powder hormone. Shake the cutting gently to remove the excess product. Then place the cutting into moist soil.
Liquid And Gel: How to Use
Before using, read the package if the rooting hormone is ready to use or concentrate. If it’s the latter, simply follow the instructions on the package. Dip the base of the cutting into the gel or liquid hormone for only two seconds at the most. If you dip for longer than two seconds, you will damage the plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I use instead of rooting hormone?
You can use your saliva. It’s free and the easiest to use. No kidding! Human saliva is actually a great (and some say the best!) rooting hormone. Why? The saliva contains enzymes that promote root growth.
Instead of licking the base of your cutting, simply spit into a container. Dip the base of your clippings into your saliva.
How can I make rooting hormone at home?
If you don’t want to use your saliva, then you can use any of the following:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with 5 to 6 cups of water in a small bowl. Stir well. Dip your cuttings into the mix, but be careful not to submerge the trimmings. Then plant your cutting into moist soil.
Use the powder form. Put a tablespoon full of cinnamon onto a clean paper towel. Get the stem or cuttings, and dampen their base — just enough for the cinnamon powder to stick on all sides. Plant the cutting into moist soil.
This is a great homemade hormone that keeps away bacteria and fungus. Pour the aloe vera gel into a cup. Stir it well until it is fully blended or liquid-like. Dip your cuttings into the cup, then plant into moist soil.
Yes, aspirin is not only good for headaches. Crush an aspirin tablet until it becomes fine powder. Dampen the base of your cuttings — just enough to make the aspirin powder stick and cover the entire base. Place your cuttings into moist soil.
Boil 2 cups of water. When the water reaches full boil, add in a tablespoon of honey. Stir until the honey is blended thoroughly with the water. Take off the heat and let the mixture cool down a bit. Once cooled, pour the mix into a container with a tight lid.
The cuttings should be cut at an angle of 45 degrees. Dip the base of the cuttings into the honey in the container. Then plant the cutting into moist soil.