Can Aspirin Be Used for Rooting Plant Cuttings?

aspirin tablets

There’s a gardening fantasy that Aspirin tablets can be utilized to stimulate rooting in plant cuttings, however is it true? There’s a saying that “somewhat science is a harmful factor“, and as we’ll see after we dissect this fantasy, it’s primarily based on some partial info combined with a lot of misunderstanding.

On this article, we’ll clarify the science in means that’s straightforward to grasp, and draw some sensible conclusions that may assist with our understanding.

Aspirin is the industrial title for acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) a standard nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that used for relieving minor aches, pains, and fevers, and it’s additionally used for irritation and as a blood thinner. Acetylsalicylic acid was synthesized by Charles Gerhardt in 1853 and in 1897 by Felix Hoffmann within the Bayer Firm.

Acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin), which is classed as a salicylate compound, has its ancestry within the associated substances salicylic acid and salicin, which might be discovered within the bark and leaves of the willow and poplar timber. These pure merchandise had been used as cures for ache, fever and irritation within the historical instances by the Sumerians and Egyptians, in addition to Hippocrates, Celsus, Pliny the Elder, Dioscorides and Galen. For these unfamiliar with the historical past of medication, Hippocrates and Galen are thought of the fathers of contemporary western medication.

What Function Does Salicylic Acid Play in Vegetation?

Molecular structure of salicylic acid and acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin)
Molecular construction of associated salicylate compounds salicylic acid and acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin)

Salicylic acid (SA) is a chemical compound similar to Aspirin in molecular construction and can be a plant hormone which is concerned in signalling a plant’s defences.

When a plant is attacked by a pest of illness, salicylic acid is concerned within the strategy of systemic acquired resistance (SAR), a chemical alarm that’s raised by the plant the place an assault on one a part of the plant triggers the plant’s inner defences in different elements of the plant. This defensive alarm may also warn close by vegetation and induce defence responses in them by changing the salicylic acid right into a unstable chemical type that may journey by means of the air. Vegetation actually do talk with one another!

The Hyperlink Between Salicylic Acid, Plant Rooting Hormone and Chopping Propagation

On this part we’ll clarify how a misunderstanding of the function of salicylic acid results in the false concept that Aspirin can be utilized a s an alternative to plant rooting hormone.

Indolebutyric acid (IBA) is a plant hormone that stimulates root development. It’s current in excessive concentrations within the rising suggestions of willow branches, and the identical substance can be present in industrial rooting hormone powders, gels and liquids offered for propagation of cuttings.

As we’ve seen from their use in historical medication, willow branches additionally comprise salicylic acid (SA) which additionally performs a useful function in chopping propagation.

A house-made rooting hormone can simply be produced from younger yellow or inexperienced willow branches, see the article – Residence Made Plant Rooting Hormone – Willow Water

One of many largest threats to newly propagated cuttings is an infection by micro organism and fungi. Salicylic acid triggers a defensive response in opposition to these disease-causing brokers, serving to the plant cuttings to combat off an infection, giving cuttings a greater likelihood of survival.

Offering the cuttings with salicylic acid from willow water (or acetyl salicylic acid from Aspirin) might be useful to pre-prepare them to defend themselves, as a result of when vegetation are attacked by infectious pathogens, they normally don’t produce salicylic acid shortly sufficient for his or her defence.

So, we will now see how the parable in all probability happened. The Aspirin, when crushed and added to water that chopping are soaking in, acts very similar to salicylic acid to create a protecting response in cuttings, making them extra proof against bacterial and fungal infections. Nonetheless, it doesn’t induce the cuttings to root in any respect, a rooting hormone akin to Indolebutyric acid (IBA) is required for that objective.


  • Norn S, Permin H, Kruse PR, Kruse E. Fra pilebark til acetylsalicylsyre [From willow bark to acetylsalicylic acid]. Dan Medicinhist Arbog. 2009;37:79-98. Danish. PMID: 20509453.