Honey As A Root Hormone: How To Root Cuttings With Honey

Jar Of Honey Next To Honeycombs
(Image credit: Ovidiu Iordachi)

Did you know that honey may contain enzymes for promoting root growth in plants? It's true. Many people have found success with using honey to root cuttings. Perhaps you can give it a try, too. Keep reading to learn more about how to use honey for cuttings.

Honey as a Root Hormone

We all know that honey has many health benefits. It is, after all, a natural antiseptic and contains anti-fungal properties -- both of which are believed to be one of the reasons honey as a root hormone seems to work so well. In fact, just 1 tablespoon (15 mL.) of honey is said to contain about 64 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates, most of which come from sugars, and seems to provide plants with a much needed boost just as it does for us. In addition to containing possible rooting agents, it is thought that using honey for cuttings helps guard against bacterial or fungal problems, allowing the little cuttings to remain healthy and strong.

Honey Plant Growth Recipe

If you're willing to give this natural means for rooting a try, then you'll likely find more than a few recipes floating around, all of which can be used. That said, you might want to experiment to find the one that works well for you, yielding the best results. Some people have even added honey to willow water to aid in rooting. But just to get you started, here's one of the more basic ones that I have come across for making a honey/water mixture for your cuttings (this can be adjusted as necessary).

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) honey - Pure, or raw, honey is said to be better than regular store-bought honey (which has been processed/pasteurized, thus taking away the beneficial properties) and yields the greatest results. So when obtaining store-bought honey, ensure the label specifies that it's "raw" or "pure" honey.
  • 2 cups (0.47 L.) boiling water - Mix the honey with your boiling water (do not boil the honey itself) and allow to cool. Place this mixture in an airtight container (such as a mason jar) until ready to use, storing it somewhere away from light. This mixture should keep up to two weeks.

How to Root Cuttings with Honey

When you're ready to begin using honey to root cuttings, you will need to first prepare your cuttings and potting medium. Your cuttings should be anywhere from 6-12 inches (15-30 cm.) in length and cut on about a 45-degree angle. Now simply dip each cutting into the honey mixture and then stick them into your selected potting medium. Honey for cuttings has been found effective using a number of potting mediums, including soil, water and even rockwool.

  • For soil-based mediums, it's easiest to poke a hole for each cutting with a pencil (or your finger) for insertion. Also, make sure to keep your soil moist. (If desired, you may cover with ventilated plastic) The same concept would also apply to your soilless mediums.
  • When rooting in water, put your cutting directly into the water immediately following its placement in the honey.
  • Finally, rockwool planting mediums should be well saturated and deep enough to support your cuttings.

Once all of your cuttings have been dipped and placed into their potting medium, simply wait for your cuttings to begin rooting, which should be within a week or so.

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.