How to use rooting hormones
One of the main tricks
horticulturalists use to increase their success rooting cuttings is to
treat the twig with the proper rooting hormone. Rooting hormones
feel a bit strong to me, so I usually try without them first, and am
currently experimenting with a
much weaker solution made from willow twigs. That said, certain
species are unlikely to root without the extra help.
Using rooting hormones
is much more complicated than I'd at first thought, with various
options existing for the type and concentration of hormone, the
solvent, and the application method. In terms of types of
hormones, most people use either IBA or NAA, with gamma form of first
form of the last being most effective. Although some plants
prefer one hormone over the other, most will root quite well with
either, in which case you might be inclined to go for NAA since it's
much cheaper. On the other hand, NAA is more prone to burn plants
if you don't get the concentration just right.
concentration, that's a point where you either need to search the
literature or use a lot of trial and error since each plant likes their
rooting hormone at a different strength. The stronger your
hormone, the less time you want to allow your cutting to sit in the
solution, with a five minute dip working for strong solutions of
rooting hormones, but with up to 24 hours necessary if they're diluted.
factor influencing how effective a rooting hormone will be is the
solvent it's dissolved in. Although some people dip into powdered
hormones, the solid is apparently much less effective than if you
dissolve the rooting hormones in water or in some form of
alcohol. Alcohol is more effective at ensuring the rooting
hormone actually works its way into the plant, but some species get
shocked by having their stems stuck in alcohol and can drop their
leaves or die. If you do want to use alcohol, you can buy rooting
hormone already dissolved in ethanol, or can make some yourself using
rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol).
I'll keep you posted if
I decide to change over to chemical rooting hormones in the
future. In the meantime, a gentle tug on my fig cuttings suggests
both the control and the willow-treated stems might already be starting
to root ten days after placing them in pots. So maybe I don't
need the chemicals?
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