Patience is a virtue in the gardening world, yet it may only get you so far in rare instances. For example, you may find yourself grappling with a stubborn plant cutting that refuses to take root despite your best efforts.
But rather than throw in the towel and question whether you possess a green thumb, you might want to consider using a rooting hormone. These substances aid root development by helping the plant absorb much-needed nutrients from the planting medium.
So, if you’re looking for the best rooting hormone for cuttings in 2023, this guide has you covered. We discuss what they are, the factors to consider when choosing them, and more.
What Is a Rooting Hormone?
A rooting hormone is a substance that’s used to promote root development in plants. Aside from stimulating root growth, rooting hormones are commonly used for plant propagation, and some other rooting hormones go as far as aiding the plant’s overall health. Depending on the form it takes, a plant root hormone can help a wide range of plants and plant cutting types.
Rooting hormones fall into two main categories: natural and synthetic. Natural rooting hormones are either plant-derived substances (e.g., willow bark) or animal-derived (e.g., honey). In contrast, synthetic rooting hormones are lab-created substances formed through chemical processes (mainly Indole-3-butyric acid).
Types of Rooting Hormones
Gardening companies usually sell their rooting hormone brands in three forms: powder, gel, and liquid. Each has its pros and cons and is worth discussing to help you understand which suits your unique needs:
Powder-based rooting hormones are among the most widely-available type of rooting hormone. They have long shelf lives, are easy to store, and are typically inexpensive.
When using a powdery rooting hormone, you’ll need to dampen your plant cutting before applying it. However, in rare cases, you won’t need any moisture at all (e.g., when coating seeds in the powder).
The downside of using a powdery rooting hormone is that you have to be careful not to avoid contaminating your main batch. Preventing contamination entails using a separate container, which adds an extra step to what otherwise should be a straightforward task.
Gel rooting hormones are the easiest of the three types of rooting hormones to apply to plants. Their gelatinous consistency provides several advantages during plant propagation.
First, it helps them seal the stem cutting. Second, this sealing quality ensures optical absorption of the rooting hormone. Third, you needn’t worry about contaminating your main batch, as you can dip the plant’s stem directly into the gel before planting it in the soil.
With that said, gardeners hesitate to purchase this rooting hormone type because, usually, they’re more expensive than their powder and liquid counterparts and require refrigeration.
Liquid rooting hormones are ideal for hydroponics, a planting process that doesn’t always employ a soil-based substrate when providing nutrients to plants. The liquid is often highly concentrated, meaning you’ll need to dilute it before use. It’s best for particularly delicate plants, as it’s easy to absorb and seeps through the cutting’s smallest pores.
The disadvantage this rooting hormone poses is that it can spill if not handled carefully. Not only will such an incident result in waste, but it may also pose a slipping hazard to others. Additionally, difficult to dilute it the right way without following the instructions on the product label. This characteristic means it’s not as easy to use as the other two types.
Eight of the Best Rooting Hormones for Cuttings
Here are eight effective rooting hormones you can use in your home garden. Every one of them stimulates plant cuttings and is suitable for your propagation needs.
1. Garden Safe Take Root Rooting Hormone
Garden Safe has made products for gardening and pest control since 2002, and the brand’s Garden Safe Take Root Rooting Hormone is the cumulation of its years of experience.
This powder rooting hormone contains Indole-3-butyric acid, an active ingredient that shares similarities to the natural rooting hormone found in plants. It can stimulate root growth from cuttings and encourage root growth in new plants like African violets, philodendrons, roses, and so on. At 0.01%, the concentration of this ingredient isn’t high, though, which isn’t great.
It’s also easy to use: all you have to encourage growth from plant cuttings is moisten them (the cut end), stir in the powder, and plant after removing any excess rooting hormone. Therefore, you can do shock-free transplants while saving money through plant propagation.
- Garden Safe Take Root Rooting Hormone helps reduce transplant shock
- Its active ingredient, Indole-3-butyric acid, is similar to natural plant hormones
- This powdered rooting hormone is useful for several plant cuttings, including poinsettias, geraniums, and coleus
- Easy to use
- Its concentration of Indole-3-butyric acid could be higher
2. Dip’N Grow DG01601 Rooting Solution Concentrate
Dip’N Grow DG01601 Rooting Solution Concentrate is a gel-based rooting hormone for propagating plants. It’s excellent for promoting root growth from plant cuttings and has been touted to be more effective than rooting powders. The formula contains the root auxins IBA and NAA, which help this rooting hormone to induce rooting.
As a liquid concentrate, you’ll have to dilute it in water to achieve the required strength necessary for root growth. Unfortunately, hitting the sweet spot can take numerous attempts, which isn’t something most gardeners would have the luxury of doing when their plants’ lives hang in the balance.
The above notwithstanding, the concentrate promotes easy and even absorption of the rooting hormones into the plant’s cutting stem. It also contains alcohol, an ingredient that acts as a solvent for its active ingredients. Thus, this rooting hormone has self-sanitizing capabilities that keep cross-contamination issues in check.
- Its active ingredients help to promote root growth
- Its concentrate helps plant root stems absorb the rooting hormone uniformly
- The concentrate is shipped in bubble wrap and a plastic back to prevent spillage
- It contains alcohol, an ingredient that’s excellent for sanitization
- It takes time to get a good water-to-concentrate dilution ratio
3. Hormex Rooting Powder
Hormex Rooting Powder is another of the best rooting hormone powder products for plants like Fuscia, Hydrangea, Raspberry, Sage, and more. It’s excellent for transplants due to the fact that its formula prevents sagging roots and root rot. Additionally, it works in most grow mediums, including (but not limited to) coco, peat, sphagnum, soil, rockwool, clay pellets, and perlite.
It’s one of the best rooting hormone products for edible plants due in part to substances like alcohol and preservatives not featuring on its ingredient list. Also, this powder rooting hormone performs well when used on the most challenging plants to root, like tomatoes, grapes, and juniper.
Compared to all the options on this list, Hormex Rooting Powder has a higher concentration of Indole-3-Butyric Acid (IBA) at 0.10%. This quality means it promotes root formation much quicker in common plant species, whether they’re vegetables, fruit, or flowers. There’s a lot to love about this rooting hormone, which is why it’s sad that Hormex sells it in small quantities.
- Incredibly easy to use: snip, moisten the cutting, and dip
- It contains mostly natural ingredients
- Suitable for the hardest-to-root plants and most grow mediums
- It contains a higher concentration of IBA than
- The quantity this powder is sold in could be bigger
4. Miracle-Gro FastRoot1 Dry Powder Rooting Hormone
Miracle-Gro FastRoot1 Dry Powder Rooting Hormone is a powder-based rooting hormone with a range of applications. It’s excellent for water and soil-based propagation and suitable for rooting tropical, house, foliage, and ornamental plants.
This product contains IBA as an active ingredient (0.01%) and ships in 1.25 oz. containers, making it ideal for casual gardeners. Using it for root development is straightforward, too. You can dip your stem cuttings into small amounts of the powder about ¾ of an inch or 1 inch deep before planting it in most media.
We recommend pouring a small portion into a separate container when doing the dip and also removing any excess powder. Additionally, you’ll need to avoid returning unused Miracle-Gro powder to the original container, or else you risk contaminating your product.
- Manufactured by a trusted company
- Its size makes it excellent for casual gardeners
- Suitable for water and soil-based plants
- It’s one of the most affordable products on this list
- Hobbyist gardeners may want a product with more generous quantities
5. Bonide Bontone II Rooting Powder
Bonide Bontone II Rooting Powder is one of Bonide’s many gardening products. Considering the company has been in business since 1926, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting a quality product manufactured by an experienced company.
This product distinguishes itself from other powder rooting hormones by being excellent for bulbs and seeds. You can put some of the powder in a bag, add the bulbs/seedlings, and shake gently. The action will result in your seeds getting coated with Bonide’s rooting powder, making them ready for planting.
Additionally, Bonide Bontone II Rooting Powder is excellent for stimulating the plant roots of hard or softwood cuttings, ornamental plants, vegetables, berries, and fruit trees. You can use it for transplants and to stimulate stem cuttings on plants like azaleas, geraniums, pachysandra, and more.
If this rooting hormone had one drawback, it would be the fact that it isn’t water-soluble. Still, the range of planting methods it does work with more than makes up for this deficiency.
- Excellent for bulbs and seeds
- It promotes root growth
- Made by an experienced manufacturer that has operated for close to a century
- It can stimulate both hard and softwood cuttings
- It isn’t water-soluble
6. Hormodin 3 Rooting Hormone
Hormodin 3 Rooting Hormone has been formulated for use in propagating difficult plant varieties (e.g., evergreens). This rooting hormone contains 0.08% IBA, which is a root-stimulating auxin that promotes growth. The formulation also works to prevent plant loss while reducing the plant’s propagation bench time.
Each 0.5-pound container of Hormodin 3 provides ensures your plants develop healthy roots from the cuttings. In addition, the rooting hormone powder ensures there’s no possibility for disease migration, keeping the plant safe while new roots grow.
If you’re budget-conscious, you’ll be happy to know that this product comes with generous portions. You can use it for numerous cuttings and find that you’re yet to run out. This quality is perfect if you want a garden full of different plant species.
- It prevents plant loss and reduces propagation bench time
- Shipped with generous portions
- It prevents disease migration
- Includes a decent amount of IBA (0.08%)
- It isn’t sold in smaller quantities
7. BIG FOOT Root Boost AZOSpirillum Plant Root Boost and Rooting Powder
BIG FOOT Root Boost AZOSpirillum Plant Root Boost and Rooting Powder contains natural rooting hormones, making it perfect for root cuttings and clones. It has multiple applications and is suitable for a range of plants and no matter the stage the said plant is at in its lifecycle. Whether it’s a seedling, flower, vegetable, fruit, or struggling plant, Root Boost can help.
This rooting hormone aids nitrogen fixation, which is excellent for the plant’s growth and the soil’s bacteria. It pulls nitrogen from the air, fixing it in the soil’s ammonia, thereby giving the plant access to it. Additionally, it’s water soluble and is useful for plants as diverse as bamboo, houseplants, vegetables, and fruit.
- It works irrespective of plant or plant lifecycle stage
- Excellent nitrogen fixing formula
- Suitable for bamboo and a range of other plants
- One of the best natural alternatives to synthetic rooting hormones
- The container it’s shipped in isn’t waterproof
8. HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel
HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel is one of the best products on this list for new plant growth. This gelatinous rooting hormone is packed with plenty of vitamins that offer protection to the delicate new plant tissue that sprouts from your cuttings. The gel rooting hormone seals the area where you’ve made the cut, supplying it with hormones that stimulate growth.
In addition, unlike the other gel rooting hormones on this list, you don’t need to dilute HydroDynamic’s formula. You can use a small brush or Q-tip to paint some on the root cutting before placing it in water or soil.
- It contains plenty of vitamins that protect the plant
- No dilution necessary
- This rooting hormone acts as a sealant that ensures the cutting receives growth-stimulating hormones
- It’s useful for water and soil-based plantings
- The container it comes in is an odd choice for a gel-based substance
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Rooting Hormone
Here are a handful of factors worth considering when choosing a powder, gel, or concentrated liquid rooting hormone:
The first and most unavoidable factor to consider is the rooting hormone type. You’ll need to decide whether you’d like to use a liquid, powder, or gel rooting hormone.
We’ve discussed the benefits and drawbacks unique to each one in an earlier section of the article, so we’ll add here that your choice should depend on your home situation. For example, The product’s storage mode will be cause for concern if you live in a household with small children.
The amount of rooting hormone you’ll need will depend on your gardening project’s scale, which is where quantity comes into play. If you’re shooting for a garden full of plants, you might want a rooting hormone that’ll last. However, a small container of your rooting hormone product should suffice for less ambitious gardening plans.
Finally, if you’re using a rooting hormone for water-bound cuttings, it’d be best if it was water soluble. That way, you won’t need to have to dispose of unwanted debris.
How Does a Rooting Hormone Work?
Rooting hormones contain active ingredients. These chemical substances encourage plant root elongation and cell division, both of which help the cutting sprout new roots.
Are Rooting Hormones Necessary?
It depends on how quickly you’d like your cutting to sprout new roots. If you’re not in a hurry, then you don’t need a rooting hormone. However, if you’d like to start your propagation efforts to show results a little quicker, it may be worth investing in a rooting hormone.
While ensuring the best start for your cuttings with the ideal rooting hormone, don’t forget the role rich, nutrient-dense soil plays in plant growth. Discover how to nourish your soil naturally with our guide to the best indoor worm composter.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar a Good Natural Rooting Hormone?
While some gardeners recommend using a teaspoon of vinegar in place of a rooting hormone, it’s important to remember that others use the substance to eradicate pests and weeds. We think that it’s better to err on the side of caution and avoid using a possible plant killer.
Rooting hormones are your best bet when a plant cutting refuses to take root. The eight options we discussed in the article are among the best you could use for your home garden in 2023. When making your choice, be sure to consider the factors and weigh each rooting hormone type’s pros and cons to get the most bang for your buck.
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