Will Weeping Willow cutting help tomato suckers root in water
My Latest Experiment
While working in my allotment garden on Thursday, 07 July, 2022 I was talking with one of my gardening friends about the fact that I cut out the suckers on my tomato plants. I put some of the bigger ones in a container of water and there is at least a 50% chance that they will sprout roots. In some cases, maybe just pure luck, it can be as high as 90%. No matter what the percentage actually is some do sprout good strong roots and I either plant these into the garden or put them into a hydroponic system.
While we were chatting I told (retold?) him about pruning out the suckers and showed him the Paul Robson suckers that I had pruned a couple of days before that had started to root in water. He asked if I knew about the story of weeping willow branches helping a water based rooting system. I had actually heard about that before and we just continued chatted and he suggested that I should try a bit of an experiment to see if it actually worked. I agreed that it would be something to try.
On Friday, 08 July, my mind was made up that I should give it a try. I finally decided on try four different models. Using new growth Weeping Willow cuttings I would put one in just plain water which would be my base sample, one with 3 branches with leaves, one with 3 branches with no leaves and one with 3 branches that were cut into about one inch pieces. I made the short trip to a weeping willow tree that is on the edge of the allotment gardens and snipped off some new, thin branches about two feet long. I took these back to the allotment and put them in the allocated plastic ice cream containers and filled to almost full with city tap water that is supplied to the gardens.
I cut twelve of the strongest and longest suckers from among one row of Mortgage Lifter tomatoes. I then put three suckers in each of the ice cream containers with, or without the willow cuttings.
Now it will be doing a daily check to see which one sprouts first and which one may have the strongest root system.
COMPARING TOMATO SUCKERS GROWN IN ONLY WATER WITH TOMATO SUCKERS GROWN IN WATER WITH WEEPING WILLOW CUTTINGS
Problem: Will new growth weeping willow cuttings help tomato suckers sprout roots?
Hypothesis: Weeping willow cuttings helping tomato suckers sprout is an urban myth.
Materials: 4 1 litre used and washed plastic ice cream containers
9 new growth weeping willow cuttings
12 tomato suckers
— tap water
Procedure: 08 July 2022
Obtain 9 new growth weeping willow cuttings from tree
Obtain 12 Mortgage Lifter tomato suckers (cuttings from sprouts between leaves and main trunk). I purposely chose what appear to be strong cuttings of uniform size
Place 3 tomato suckers in container containing only tap water approximately 80% full
Place 3 tomato suckers in container containing 3 willow cutting with leaves and tap water approximately 80% full
Place 3 tomato suckers in container containing 3 willow cutting with NO leaves and tap water approximately 80% full
Place 3 tomato suckers in container containing 3 willow cutting with leaves cut into about 2” pieces and tap water approximately 80% full
Place filled containers in a sunny location
Observations: 09 July Day 1 - No noticeable growth
10 July Day 2 - Not observed
11 July Day 3 - Short roots appear on one sucker in container containing
willow shoot with leaves. Marked with RED pipe cleaner.
No growth noted on other suckers
12 July Day 4 - more short root shoots original 1st sucker. NO other shoots
13 July Day 5 - root shoots now on at least one sucker in each container.
14 July Day 6 - more short root shoots.
15 July Day 7 - no change from day 6
16 July Day 8 - not observed
17 July Day 9 - roots with weeping willow branches appear much stronger
than plain water
18 July Day 10 - not observed - rain all day
19 July Day 11 - All doing well but roots with willows appear better
20 July Day 12 - All doing well
21 July Day 13 - Not observed
22 July Day 14 - It appears as if the suckers in all 3 with the willows
have more roots.
23 July Day 15 - It appears as if the suckers with the cut willows may
be a little longer.
24 July Part 2 of the tomato experiment - HYDROPONICS.
This morning, before the rain started, I put what I considered the strongest sucker
into a hydroponics bucket. The bucket holds 25 litres of water and in the buckets
with the hydroponic solution it is 50 mls of part A and part B. Hydroponics does
require a fertilizing solution because plain water does not have enough nutrients.
In my case I am trying some with the hydroponic solution and some with just the
willow water. I had soaked the willow branches for 4 days and today removed the
branches from 2 of the buckets. Contents of each of the buckets is in the photos.
I am not sure how it is going to turn out because the willow water had a fermenting
aroma and was cloudy. That may be because I had covered the buckets.
01 August After one week in water solutions
My hydroponic experiment with the willow branches is not working out.
I think the willow water may have become polluted during the initial 4 days soaking
This may be a result of:
A: water/willows started in a closed container,
B: the water got to hot during the hot spell we had or
C: a combination of the two.
The one sucker in the bucket with just water and hydroponic solution seems to be
The Paul Robson suckers are coming along quite nicely!
Conclusion: New growth Weeping Willow branches, in a small way may help tomato suckers
sprout. While the germination time may be within a day or two the strength
of the roots growing with the willow branches appear to be more abundant
and stronger that those in plain water. Therefore, a conclusion could be that
new growth Weeping Willow branches may be considered to be a viable
form of 'green' fertilizer.
In my experiment one sucker, with the willows produced roots in only three (3) days while after
six (6) days the other two have not sprouted. After six (6) days this sprout appears be the
From my findings it appears as if either bare new growth or cut new growth gives a more
After 9 days all suckers that are growing with the new growth willow branches appear
to be more abundant and stronger than those in plain water.
No doubt further experiments should be carried out to confirm these findings.
Some published data suggests soaking the Willow for 3 to 4 days in water and then adding the
suckers. According to my findings, if that were the case it would not be "time productive" to
follow that advise.
Addendum: Some of these suckers will be placed in hydroponic buckets. One will be with
water and commercial hydroponic solution (plants need some form of fertilizer to grow
hydroponically) the other three will have some form of willow branches. Today
19 July, 2022, in two I placed fresh new growth willow branches, and it the other
cut up willow branches with no leaves and filled with water. After four days (recommended
soaking time) I will take the branches out of two of the buckets and leave the branches in one.
NOTE: Day 15, 23 July 2023, may be the last day for this part of the experiment. Depending on
the weather tomorrow I will be putting the strongest sucker from each sample into a
hydroponic system. I have been soaking weeping willow branches in water and tomorrow
will be the 4th day which according to various internet sites that is the usual length of time
to soak the branches. I will measure the longest root length when I put the suckers in
the hydroponic buckets.