All You Need to Know About Rooting Hormones

If you are an avid gardener and you are looking for a way to boost the root growth of your plant cuttings, then using rooting hormones is one way to go about. While the usage of this method is proven to be effective, not many know what rooting hormones are: While fewer know how to use them. 

Hence, in this article, we will explain to you what rooting hormones are. Furthermore, we will discuss if your plants need them, and how to use them on your plant. 

What are Rooting Hormones?

As humans, we have hormones in our bodies that help us grow normally. Without these hormones, growth becomes abnormal or irregular. Visit to see the list of hormones in humans as well as their functions.  

Plants have hormones in the same way humans do. These plant hormones allow and ensure proper growth development. These chemicals are different from those found in humans and even animals. 

Plants have these main types of hormones which are:

  • Auxins: These are produced and found in the plant’s terminal buds. Their job is to restrict side buds’ growth. They affect the stimulation of growth in the plant’s roots. Auxins are also responsible for tropism (cell elongation) and apical growth. They are the reasons plants drop or retain fruits. 
  • Cytokinins: These are the chemicals that encourage the division of cells, differentiation of cells, and leaves’ aging.
  • Gibberellins: These influence flowering, cell division, leaves, and fruit size. They also ensure that a seed can overcome dormancy and begin the germination process. 
  • Abscisic Acid: While humans have cortisol as our primary stress hormone, plants have theirs in form of abscisic acid. Its function is to stop other hormones whenever the plant is under stress. 
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When we compare the hormones above, we discover that the only hormone that affects root growth is Auxins. Hence, when we talk about rooting hormones, we are talking about Auxins. Click here to learn more about auxins.

Products that contain this chemical are used to stimulate the growth. These products can be commonly found in powder, gel, and liquid form. Natural auxins are used in some products while others make use of synthetic compounds. 

Let us look at the natural auxins and synthetic compounds in more detail…

Natural Auxins

Auxins occur naturally in two ways which are Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and Indole-3-butyric acid (IBA). 

When compared, IAA is more abundant than IBA. The reason for this is because the latter is easily converted to the former by plants; hence, you will only find it in small traces. 

IAA is not well used for propagation because it gets broken down quite easily whenever it experiences light exposure. 

Synthetic Compounds

These manufactured compounds are designed to function like auxins. There are two types of these compounds which are alpha-Naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) and 2,4-diclorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).

NAA acts like the natural occurring IAA. Due to its perfect mimicking of the natural auxin, plants cannot detect if it is the real IAA or not. Hence, it is perfect for use as a rooting hormone. 

2,4-D, on the other hand, is most for tissue culture; hence, it is not an actual rooting hormone. 

When placed in water, Indole-3-butyric acid and alpha-Naphthalene acetic acid are not soluble. Interestingly, when placed in other solvents including alcohol, these compounds will dissolve. However, we strongly advise against using such solutions on your plants as they can be harmful. 

If you are looking for a compound that is soluble in water, then look for products that have potassium salts of Indole-3-butyric acid and alpha-Naphthalene acetic acid. These salts are the ones found in most commercial products. The potassium salts of these compounds are what folks refer to as IBA as well as NAA and they are regarded as very effective. 

Do Plants Require Rooting Hormones?

The simple answer to that question is not really. Plants are designed to propagate themselves once the conditions are right. The use of these products only helps to make the propagation process much faster. Plants that had propagation difficulties in time past can also benefit from these compounds. 

Succulent plants that are known for their ability to easily propagate do not need these hormones. Citrus plants and others that take time to root can make use of these products. 

Generally, using rooting hormones boils down to personal preference. It will help you get better results, however, it isn’t required. 

How to use Rooting Hormones 

You need to realize and understand that these products are chemicals; and powerful ones as at that. Just like any kind of chemical, little amounts might be okay, but when in excess, it becomes disastrous. 

Hence, if you use too much, the clippings can be damaged or killed in the process. Therefore, before you use the product, read the label carefully to see the best options and to verify if the product’s formula is suitable for your clipping. 

The compound should only be used right before the clipping is placed into the soil. Do not apply the product and leave it for some time before placing the plant into the soil. 

If you are using a powdered product, gently lower the plant’s base into the rooting hormone. Then get rid of excess powder by shaking the plant gently. Ensure you shake it as too much of it as we mentioned above is bad. After that, the plant can then be placed into the soil. Ensure that the base is not tightly covered. 

If you are using a gel or liquid product, confirm whether the product can be readily used or is a concentrate. The former can be used immediately, but the concentrate has to be diluted according to the product’s instructions before it can be used. After the compound is ready, gently lower the plant’s base into the rooting hormone. Ensure that it is placed in the hormone for just a few seconds; too much is bad. Remove it and plant it as described above when we talked about the powdered compound.


Rooting hormones can help to boost the root growth of your plants although most plants can do without them. Before using a product, ensure that you check the concentration and the expiry date.