The Q&A Archives: Willow tea on root cuttings

Question: I've read that a tea made from willow twigs helps cuttings root. If this is true, what's the recipe? I. Porter Eugene, OR

Answer: The jury is still out on the effectiveness of using tea made from willow extract to help plants root. For hard to root cuttings of rhododendrons, mountain laurel and Japanese photinia, I've increased by success rate from 2% to 75% or 85%, says Florence Winger, owner of a propagation nursery in Corvallis, Oregon, that specializes in broadleaf evergreen cuttings. However, Dave Adams, professor of horticulture and expert in rhododendron propagation at Oregon State University in Aurora, says, Generally, across the board, I think it's a waste of time. If you want to experiment, here's a recipe followed by Winger. Cut about 1/4 pound of 1/2 inch diameter willow twigs from this year's growth into small (one to two inch) pieces. Crush them with a hammer, then put the crushed twigs in a quart jar and cover them with water. Set the jar, uncovered, in a shallow pan of water and heat until the twig water is 120_F for one to two hours. Let the liquid cool, then drain and store the extract for 48 hours. Soak the bottom one to two inches of cuttings in the extract overnight at room temperature. Remove the cuttings, dry off the ends and dip the tips into a rooting hormone. Place the cuttings in potting soil on a windowsill that receives good light. Mist the cuttings regularly, and don't allow them to dry out.

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