Willow water or willow tea is a completely free, organic solution that encourages willow stems to root. Willow (Salix) branches contain a chemical that is an ingredient in chemical rooting powders and this is easy to extract. Follow the simple steps below.
How to make willow water / tea
1. Cut fresh willow branches when they are green and flexible. Avoid anything on the ground as it won’t have the same rooting power as fresh branches. Cut the green tips from a handful of branches, choosing stems that are about ½ an inch thick
2. Remove the leaves from the branches. Cut the willow branches into 1 inch long pieces. Split each piece in half to allow the water good access
3. Half fill a pot or pan with water and bring to the boil. Once the water is boils, remove from the heat and drop in the willow pieces. Allow the water to cool and the willow to steep overnight
4. The following day, strain the water to collect the willow water / tea and set aside the pieces of branchThe willow water / tea will keep in a fridge for up to 2 months. The spent tea can also be used to water the cuttings or as a feed later on.
How to use willow
Stand the stems of plants to be propagated in the willow tea for 24 hours before placing them in potting compost. This allows the willow tea / water to soak into the stemOption 2
Place the cuttings in a partially filled glass of willow water / tea until roots emerge from the stems. Then pot on
Many thanks to Rachel Hutton for helping us put together this handy guide. Rachel regularly teaches willow weaving courses here.