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Alternatives to Rooting Hormone

November 24, 2023
3 minutes read
Various natural substances like honey

When it comes to propagating plants, rooting hormones are often the go-to solution. But what if you've run out of your trusty bottle, or you're simply looking for a more natural approach? Fear not, green-thumbed friends, for there are plenty of alternatives to rooting hormone that you can use. And no, we're not talking about magic spells or rain dances (although, if they work for you, we're not here to judge).

Understanding Rooting Hormones

Before we dive into the alternatives, let's take a quick detour to understand what rooting hormones are. Also known as auxins, these substances help stimulate root growth when propagating plants from cuttings. They're like the pep talk your plant cuttings need to start putting down roots and becoming their own independent, photosynthesizing beings.

Rooting hormones are available in gel, powder, and liquid forms, and while they can be a great help, they're not always necessary. Many plants will root just fine without them. But for those stubborn cuttings that need a little extra encouragement, or for the impatient gardeners among us (you know who you are), rooting hormones can be a game changer.

Homemade Rooting Hormone Alternatives

1. Honey

Yes, you read that right. Your favorite natural sweetener can also help your plants root. Honey is a natural antiseptic and anti-fungal agent, which can help keep your cuttings free from disease while they're rooting. Just dilute a tablespoon of honey in two cups of boiled water, let it cool, and you've got yourself a homemade rooting hormone.

However, don't expect your cuttings to root as quickly as they would with a commercial rooting hormone. Honey is more about providing a healthy environment for root growth, rather than actively stimulating it. But hey, slow and steady wins the race, right?

2. Cinnamon

Another kitchen staple, cinnamon, can also be used as a rooting hormone alternative. Like honey, cinnamon has antiseptic properties that can help prevent your cuttings from getting infected. To use cinnamon as a rooting hormone, simply dip the end of your cutting in water, then roll it in cinnamon powder before planting.

Again, cinnamon won't speed up the rooting process like a commercial rooting hormone would. But it can help ensure your cuttings stay healthy while they're putting down roots, which is half the battle.

3. Willow Water

If you're looking for a more 'active' homemade rooting hormone, willow water could be the answer. Willow trees are rich in salicylic acid, a natural rooting hormone. By soaking willow branches in water, you can create a solution that not only helps prevent disease but also actively encourages root growth.

To make willow water, simply cut several willow branches into pieces, cover them with boiling water, and let them steep for 24-48 hours. Then, use the water to soak your cuttings before planting. Just be aware that willow water has a relatively short shelf life, so it's best to use it fresh.

Commercial Rooting Hormone Alternatives

1. Aloe Vera

Known for its healing properties in humans, aloe vera can also work wonders for plant cuttings. The gel inside aloe vera leaves contains enzymes that can stimulate root growth. Simply cut an aloe vera leaf and dip your cutting in the fresh gel before planting.

While aloe vera is not as potent as commercial rooting hormones, it's a great natural alternative. Plus, it's an excuse to keep an aloe vera plant around, which is always a win in our book.

2. Aspirin

Another surprising alternative to rooting hormone is aspirin. Like willow trees, aspirin contains salicylic acid, which can stimulate root growth. Simply dissolve an aspirin tablet in water and soak your cuttings in the solution before planting.

While aspirin is not as effective as commercial rooting hormones, it can be a handy alternative if you're in a pinch. Just make sure to use plain, uncoated aspirin, as other types can contain additives that might harm your plants.


  1. Can I propagate plants without rooting hormone?
    Yes, many plants will root just fine without rooting hormone. However, rooting hormone can help speed up the process and increase the success rate, especially for harder-to-root plants.
  2. Are homemade rooting hormones effective?
    While homemade rooting hormones are not as potent as commercial ones, they can still be effective. They're also a great natural alternative if you prefer to avoid synthetic chemicals.
  3. Can I use too much rooting hormone?
    Yes, using too much rooting hormone can actually harm your plants. Always follow the instructions on the label, and remember that less is often more when it comes to rooting hormones.

So there you have it, folks. Whether you're out of rooting hormone, looking for a natural alternative, or just feeling adventurous, there are plenty of options to choose from. Happy propagating!

About me
Liz Walker
Liz Walker
Hey there! I am Liz, a dedicated gardener and nature enthusiast with over two decades of hands-on experience.
Through my articles, I share insights ranging from organic pest control to creating stunning garden designs.
My aim is to inspire you with the joys of gardening, providing practical advice that makes nurturing your green space both fulfilling and enjoyable.
More about Liz
Liz Walker
Liz Walker
Hey there!

I am Liz, the founder of MyAeroGardening. 
Through my articles, I share insights ranging from organic pest control to creating stunning garden designs.
My aim is to inspire you with the joys of gardening, providing practical advice that makes nurturing your green space both fulfilling and enjoyable.
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