Using Honey as a Rooting Hormone for Cuttings

How to use honey to promote root growth in cuttings

There are many synthetic rooting hormones available including liquids, powders and gels that can promote rapid root growth in cuttings, but if you’re an organic gardener or you’d just prefer a natural, chemical-free option, you should definitely consider honey as a natural rooting stimulant.

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honey rooting hormone for cuttings

The reason honey works well as a natural rooting hormone is because it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Honey protects the cuttings from pathogens and allows the natural rooting hormones in the cutting to stimulate root growth.

Some plants will root well on their own without the need of rooting hormones, whereas other plants need a little help.

It’s rare to achieve a 100% success rate when propagating cuttings, but rooting hormones can help to increase your chances of success.

Honey vs Synthetic Rooting Hormones

A study by the University of Hawaii’i found that honey does demonstrate an ability to root plant cuttings but it wasn’t as effective as synthetic rooting hormones. [1]

This is just one small study and although honey doesn’t have the same fast results as synthetic hormones, it can increase the success rate when propagating plants and you’ll see more consistent results than using nothing at all.

Cleanliness is also an important factor when propagating. Cleaning and sterilizing your equipment is essential for creating healthy new plants.

using honey to propagate plants

Honey rooting hormone recipes

Most recipes for honey rooting hormone say to mix one tablespoon of honey into two cups of boiling water, but I prefer to use the honey straight out of the jar.

The natural antibacterial and antifungal properties in honey are destroyed when honey is heated, which is why it’s best to use raw honey. (Regular honey from the grocery store has been heat treated, so it won’t help with propagation).

You can also add a pinch of cinnamon to the raw honey.

Cinnamon has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help to protect the cutting and allows the natural rooting hormones that are found in the green growth of the cuttings to produce roots.

Which plants can be propagated with honey?

You can use honey for just about any type of cuttings including soft-wood, green-wood and hard-wood cuttings including rose, camellia, hydrangea and geranium. Even succulent cuttings can benefit from honey.

RELATED: 10 Easy To Propagate Houseplants

How to use honey for cuttings

The first step is to prepare your cuttings. Depending on the plant, the cuttings should be between 4 – 6 inches (10 – 15 cm) in length and cut on a 45-degree angle. 

The best time of year to take cuttings is late spring or early summer. Cuttings taken at other times of the year can still be used, but they may take longer to form roots.

Once you have your cuttings ready, dip each cutting into the honey and then make a hole in the potting mix with your finger for each cutting.

Keep the potting media moist and you can expect roots to form in 7 – 14 days.

Succulents can be dipped in honey and placed on top of the potting soil. In a few weeks’ time, roots will start growing from the lower part of the leaves.

Honey can also be used for water propagation. Just dip the cutting in the honey and it place it straight into the water.

Once the root gets to about an inch (2 – 3 cm) in length it can be potted up.

I hope this article has inspired you to try honey next time you’re preparing your cuttings.

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Have you tried using honey as a natural rooting hormone? Let me know in the comments below.

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How to use honey to root cuttings

Using honey to root cuttings

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin. I'm passionate about gardening and horticulture and I love growing just about everything including herbs, vegetables, flowers, succulents and indoor plants. I've been gardening most of my life and I created this blog to inspire beginner gardeners to create their own urban garden. Read more

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. I’m glad I found this article. I’ve started a new garden and I’m hoping to do some propagation soon but I wasn’t keen on the idea of using synthetic rooting hormone formulas filled with chemicals. I’d much rather use honey to propagate my plants and cuttings. Thanks for this really useful information.

    1. Thanks Amelia, good luck with your propagation. I hope the honey works well for your cuttings.

  2. I love ginkgo trees. My local nursery had one very sad looking specimen for $70! Nope, not gonna buy it. I took a cutting from a neighbor’s tree and will try and root it with the honey method. I’m not holding my breath but I would be so excited if it rooted. Thanks for the info.
    Bev

    1. Good luck with your propagation Bev! I hope your ginkgo cutting will root.

  3. Can honey be used on a fig tree cutting?

    1. Hi Joseph, yes you can definitely use honey to root a fig tree cutting.

  4. Hi! What is the name of the plant in the 2nd photo? I also have one. It was gifted to me, but I was unable to find it’s name so I could search the internet for the best technique to grow it. Right now I am just doing what my instinct tells me and it has survived for more than 8 months so seems great.

    1. Hi Carmen, that’s a photinia cutting that I propagated using honey. I’m pleased to hear that your plant is doing well.

  5. Going to try and use this method for a hibiscus cutting I took from my neighbors bush. Bookmarked this page so I can let you know how it worked.

    1. Good luck Steph, I hope your hibiscus cutting takes root.

  6. Does anyone have any experience rooting sumac from clippings? I want to root and raise it indoors over the winter under a grow light. I will definitely try honey, but am debating water or potting mix.

    1. Hi Mel, I haven’t tried rooting sumac cuttings but you could definitely give it a try with honey and potting mix. I hope your propagation is successful.

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