Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the October 1, 2017 Newsletter issued from Rancho Regensis north of Valladolid, Yucatán, MÉXICO

A while back, at http://www.backyardnature.net/mexnat/basella.htm I described how I'd caused cut-off sections of Climbing Spinach stems to produce roots for transplanting, and I mentioned that it might be easier if we had root-grow powder. Newsletter reader Elvira here in the Yucatan wrote to ask if she could have some Climbing Spinach starters, she visited, and generously provided me with the container of rooting hormone, shown below:

container of rooting hormone

To use it, you just daub a freshly cut stem into the powder, shake off the excess, and plant the stem. To cut down on stress by having water transpire from the planted stem's large leaves, I break them off before planting the stem. In doing so, I make sure that the buds from which new leaves and branches will arise are not damaged. Below, you can see what my ready-to-plant stem with white root-grow powder on its bottom looks like:

cut stem with rooting hormone applied

This and several stems like it were planted in loose, moist soil, taking care to not knock off the powder. The soil was kept moist, and now a week later new leaves and stems are arising from what look like fine future Climbing Spinach plants.

The compound causing rooting to take place is indole-3-butyric acid, a synthetic crystalline solid with the molecular formula of C12H13NO2. It's not well understood why the compound causes roots to form. Wikipedia's page describing what's known about it is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indole-3-butyric_acid.