Willow Leaves In A Jar With Water
willow water
(Image credit: Gardening Know How)

Did you know rooting cuttings in water can be sped up by using willow water? Willow trees possess a certain hormone that can be used to enhance root development in plants. This makes it possible to grow a new plant simply by pouring willow water over it or by rooting plants in water made from willows.

What is Willow Water?

Willow water is made from the twigs or branches of the willow tree. These twigs are immersed in water for a certain amount of time and then either used for watering newly planted shrubs and trees, as well as seedlings, or by soaking the cuttings in the willow water prior to planting. Some plants can even be successfully rooted directly in the willow water.

Making Willow Water

Making willow water is easy. Start by gathering about a couple cups (480 ml.) worth of freshly fallen branches or cut the twigs directly from the tree. These should be no bigger than a pencil, or about half an inch (1 cm.) in diameter. Remove any leaves and break or cut them into 1 to 3 inch (2.5-8 cm.) pieces. Actually, the shorter, about an inch (2.5 cm.), the better. This allows more of the auxin hormone, which encourages root growth, to leach out. Steep the twigs in about half gallon (2 L.) of boiling water, leaving them for about 24 to 48 hours.

To remove the willow pieces, use a colander or sieve to pour the willow water through into another container. The willow water should resemble weak tea. Pour this into an airtight container such as a jar. Discard the willow pieces or toss them into the compost pile.

You can refrigerate the willow water for up to two months, but it is oftentimes better (and more effective) when used right away, with a fresh batch made for each use.

Willow Water Rooting

Rooting cuttings in water made from willows is also easy. Once your willow water is ready, soak the cuttings you would like to root in the water overnight. After soaking, you can take them out and place them in pots of soil or plant them directly into the garden (preferably a shadier location first and then transplant once established). You can also use the water to pour in newly planted flowers, shrubs, and trees.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.