If you prefer to keep the use of chemicals to a minimum in your garden, but want to take advantage of the autumn good growing weather to take semi ripe hardwood cuttings...why not try making your own hormone rooting liquid - Willow Water?
It couldn't be simpler....all you need to do is to find some willow and add water !
Willow contains two substances, Salicylic Acid (SA) and Indolebutyric Acid. (IBA). IBA is a plant hormone that stimulates root growth, while SA helps trigger a plants defences against attack by bacteria or fungi. When the willow tips are soaked in water both IBA and SA are leached into the water.
Collect your willow twigs....you want first year growth as this contains the highest concentration of SA and IBA. If you're not sure which is the young growth look for stems that are either green or yellow. Older stems will be brown or grey. Strip off the leaves (don't forget to compost the leaves or use as a mulch!)
Chop the twigs into 1 inch pieces (that's 2.5cm for the metrically minded) place in a container and pour over boiling water. You need twice as much willow material as water so......two parts willow twigs and one part water.
Let this mixture stand for approx. 24 hours, strain and put in an air tight container. Sealed, it will keep in a fridge for up to two months.
There are two ways you can use the Willow Water. Either place the cutting directly into a container half filled with Willow Water, making sure the bottoms of the stems are covered and leave for 12/24 hours before planting up, or once you have planted up your cuttings, water directly onto the plants and soil at least twice with the Willow Water. Both these methods should help your cuttings root and grow on strongly.