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"Willow water" is a term for water that has had willow soaked in it to extract compounds that improve the chances of a cutting growing roots. Here's a fairly descriptive article on it.

I tried it once when I was given some cuttings from a ficus tree, and one cutting grew roots (it's now about a metre tall, and makes a nice indoor plant).

What I don't know is how much of a difference it really makes to use willow water rather than just plain water (or commercial rooting hormone). Does anyone have a good feel as to how much it improves the strike rate of cuttings?

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This is not especially related to your question, but I've also heard honey is good in place of rooting hormone for striking cuttings and would love to know just how effective it is along with willow water. –  Lisa Nov 24 '11 at 4:48

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Willow water could contain an unusually high amount of "phyto-hormones", which support the growth of roots. I think this will be an auxine-derivate, which the willow contains. Clear water doesn't contain those phyto-hormones. So plant and root-growth comes from the cuttings themselves. However, I'm not 100% sure.

Conventional rooting hormones containing those pyhto-hormones, but they are synthetic. One exception may exist, if I'm not wrong — There's a product based on a special variety of seaweed. The seaweed used contains a relatively high amount of auxines and this product might be used in organic horticulture/agriculture in Europe.

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Do you know what is the difference in efficacy between willow water (natural) and synthetic rooting hormones? –  Lisa Dec 12 '11 at 0:09
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No, not really. I think, this would need an investigation of the chemical components of both willow water and synthetic hormones. The efficacy will depend on the types of contained hormones, the amount and efficacy of each. And most producers of synthetic hormones will keep their recipes secret. –  Christoph Mühlmann Dec 12 '11 at 7:54

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