Willow Water

Why & How to make Willow Water

Willow bark contains a natural plant growth hormone called, auxin hormone.  You can use this hormone to stimulate root growth on propagation cuttings by making a home-brewed solution called, ‘Willow Water’.


Willow Twigs

First, you collect first-year twigs from any willow species (Salix spp.); these twigs will have green or yellow bark. Older willow growth has brown or grey bark, so don’t use those. The willow leaves are not used, so remove all the leaves from your twigs and toss them into your compost.  Take these willow twigs and cut them into 1-inch to 3-inch long pieces. You will need approximately 2-cups of twigs to make ½ gallon of willow water.


Extracting growth hormone from willow twigs:


Steeping Willow Twigs

Method A – Place the 1-inch willow twigs in a container and cover with ½ gallon of boiling water, let them steep for at least 24 hours, then strain the liquid into another container to remove twigs.

Method B– Place the 1-inch willow twigs in a container and cover with tap water. Let twigs soak 48 hours, and after 2 days strain to remove the twigs.

The willow water is now ready to use.

How To Use:

First method: Pour some willow water into a small jar, and then place the cuttings you want to root into the willow water like flowers in a vase, soak the ends overnight. After soaking, plant the cuttings in a propagation medium.  Planting medium suggestion is ½ vermiculite and ½ Coir (coconut fiber) or peat moss.  Please note: coir is a sustainable planting medium, while peat moss is not.

Second method:  Plant the cuttings you want to root in a propagation medium, then use willow water to water these cuttings.  Watering the cuttings with willow water twice should be enough to help them root.

How To Store Willow Water:

Store willow water in a jar with a tight fitting lid and keep refrigerated. Label the jar with Contents, Brew Date, and Expiration Date. Willow water keeps for up to two months if refrigerated, but freshly made willow water is more potent, therefore the longer it is stored the less effective it becomes.

Submitted by: Carlotta Lucas


Deep Green Permaculture  https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/home-made-plant-rooting-hormone-willow-water/

Garden Know How  https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/projects/making-willow-water.htm

Re-potting a Christmas Cactus

After your Christmas cactus has bloomed, re-pot it into a pot slightly larger than its current container. Christmas cactus roots can easily rot if the soil is too wet, so the pot must have a drain hole and be planted in a lightweight, well-drained potting mix.   You can use potting mixes for cactus & succulents, which are readily available at garden centers, or you can make your own.

Commercially made potting soils can be used for Christmas cactus soil, if they are amended. Choose a balanced pH soil mix without added fertilizers. The soil’s pH should be neutral, between 6.0 and 7.0, not too acid nor too alkaline.

Below are four suggested Christmas cactus soil recipes:

  • 1/2 potting soil, 1/4 horticultural perlite, 1/4 orchid bark.
  • 1/3 Coconut Coir, 1/3 horticultural perlite, 1/3 fine fir bark.
  • 1/3 soil-less potting soil, 1/3 horticultural perlite, 1/3 pine bark nuggets.
  • 2/3 potting balanced PH soil with perlite, 1/3 sand

Submitted by; Carlotta Lucas

Hummingbirds Winter Care

Keep hummingbird feeders clean to prevent mold and fungus, which can be fatal to hummingbirds. Refill feeders frequently so there is always an adequate supply of nectar for overwintering hummingbirds.   Do not prune shrubs or trees near feeding areas in fall so hummingbirds have plenty of sheltered places to perch and rest between feedings. Bring feeders indoors to warm/ defrost and rotate out with other feeders.

Below are some methods to keep the nectar from freezing:


Photo by: Dan David Cook

  • Use a dome to protect from snow, sleet and ice.
  • Position the feeder to protect from cold winds and exposure.
  • Attach hand warmers to the feeder.
  • Heat tape such as used for preventing pipes from freezing.
  • Place a clamp-on/ clip-on shop/ work light adjacent to the feeder—about 12-24″ away would be as plumbers do when defrosting frozen pipes. Test the distance before you walk away. Try a 125 Watt infra-red light bulb, but not the red-glass type. Get an I.R. bulb with clear envelope, it casts a more natural light. Connect it all to a timer.
  • Place holiday lights around, above or below the feeder.
  • Insulate with any fabric.
  • Some say to alter the water:nectar ratio, but don’t do this! Keep ratio the same for hummingbird’s health and nutritional needs
  • Do not obstruct access to feeding ports. Use common sense and your best judgment.
Information from: hummingbirdmarket.com. http://www.hummingbirdmarket.com/hummingbird_articles/feeding_hummingbirds_in_the_cold.html
And, Seattle Audubon –  http://www.seattleaudubon.org/sas/Learn/SeasonalFacts/Hummingbirds.aspx


Christmas Cactus

 Scientific Name: Schlumbergera

A Christmas Cactus in full bloom makes an extraordinary gift for gardeners, and non-gardeners, alike.  With proper care a Christmas Cactus is very long lived. The one shown here is over forty years old and still provides an amazing display of flowers every Christmas season.

Christmas Cactus Care:

Light/Temperature:  Prefers a warm location with bright indirect sunlight. Shade it from intense sun and keep the plant away from heater vents, fireplaces and cold drafts.

Soil:  Plant in well draining potting mix made for succulent plants. Its ideal soil is composed of equal parts of garden loam, leaf mold or peat, and clean course sand.

Water:  A Christmas Cactus is a tropical succulent, it is NOT a true cactus, therefore it requires more water than a true cactus. Its watering needs vary with air temperature and humidity, but in general keep the soil just barely moist throughout the year. But, do not over water or the stems will get flabby and droop,  and don’t under water either or the stems will be shriveled and limp. Note: if your plant tends to dry out and/or wilt frequently, then it’s time to re-pot it into a slightly larger container.

Fertilizing: Supply plant with a weak solution of houseplant fertilizer every two weeks.

Flowering:  The secret to good bud production is cool temperatures and extended darkness.

Cool temps: The best temperature for bud development is 55F-61F degrees for a period of 6 weeks.  Start providing cool temps in November for Christmas blooming.

Extended Darkness: The plant also needs 12 hours of darkness every night for 6 weeks.  You can accomplish darkness by covering the plant with a cloth each night or move it into a dark area overnight.  For cactus to bloom at Christmas time, darkness treatment should start in early October. Then, when buds start to appear increase its light exposure.  Do not move the plant when it starts blooming, because it is sensitive to location during this time.

Color:  Flower colors ranges from pink, white, yellow, salmon, fuchsia, red and any combination of these.

Rest time:  In February, after it has bloomed, the plant should have a rest period, so during this month water it sparingly and stop fertilizing.

Re-potting:  A Christmas Cactus blooms better if slightly pot-bound, so re-pot only when needed every 3-4 years.  Re-pot the plant into a slightly bigger pot in the spring when it is not in bloom.

Propagation:  Propagating Christmas cactus is easy. Cut a y-shaped segment off the tip of the plant, this cutting should have 2-3 joined segments.  Allow the cutting to dry for a few hours and then plant it in moist peat & sand soil mix, insert about a quarter of its length below the soil surface. Place it in a well-lit area, avoid direct sunlight and water it sparingly to prevent rotting.  In two or three weeks the cutting should show signs of growth at the tips of its leaves, these are usually reddish in color. Once it has rooted transplant it into a pot.

submitted by Carlotta Lucas


Green Wreath Care

20171204_112315.jpgWatering a green wreath depends on where it’s displayed, if it’s outside in a cool climate then no watering is required, but if it’s outside in a warmer climate, or display indoors, then watering is required.

The wreath industry recommends upon receiving your green wreath, you place it in a couple of inches of water for at least an hour to give it an initial drink.  Then once it’s displayed, you spray the wreath with water every few days, and watch for dryness.

Outdoor:  Keep your wreath out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source.  If kept out of the sun, a wreath should last a month, often longer in cold climates.

 Indoor:   If you’re having a party and want your wreath on display for the party, it’s best to wait until the last minute to bring it inside, and then take it outside as soon as the party is over.  If, however, you are keeping your wreath indoors for the holiday, soak in water at least an hour, as stated about, spritz it frequently and watch for dryness. A green wreath left indoors only last 2 weeks and be aware that green wreaths kept indoors dry out quickly, and are a fire hazard!