Hydrogen peroxide is found naturally in both plants and animals. It is represented by the chemical formula H2O2, thus containing one more oxygen atom (O2) than water (H2O).
Possessing antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, the applications of this chemical agent in surface disinfection, water purification, therapeutic intervention and household cleaning are known to most of us. Nonetheless, using hydrogen peroxide is a relatively new topic even for avid hobbyists and horticulturists.
Hydrogen Peroxide in Gardening
Chemically, hydrogen peroxide works as a mild acid with strong oxidizing properties. When exposed to higher temperature or treated with metal ions, it undergoes oxidation reaction producing oxygen and water in the process.
But, what is the connection between hydrogen peroxide and gardening? It is beneficial for plants in many ways, like increasing oxygen supply, controlling disease infestations and restoring plant vigor. The following is a brief info about the uses of hydrogen peroxide on plants.
A Source of Oxygen
Hydrogen peroxide serves as a storehouse for oxygen when used for plants. If you refer to oxygen metabolism, you will come across this compound as a byproduct that splits further into oxygen and water. The benefits of rainwater in promoting plant growth is partly due to the presence of hydrogen peroxide in low amounts.
Increases Plant Vigor
Provided that hydrogen peroxide is applied in a safe dose, it is beneficial to stimulate the growth of plants. This specially holds true for houseplants and garden plants that have been exposed to prolonged drought spells. Immediately after spraying on plants, it decomposes into water and oxygen, which are crucial plant growth factors.
Studies in plants show that hydrogen peroxide plays a crucial role in fighting against pathogens. When a bacterium or a fungus attacks, the plant receives a signal and induces secretion of hydrogen peroxide or superoxide. This chemical strengthens the cell wall, thereby restricting the spread of pathogen to the remaining plant parts.
In an otherwise healthy plant, regular misting of dilute hydrogen peroxide solution is effective to prevent disease and pest infestations. Also, treating seeds with this mild acid before sowing is a simple way to avoid fungal attacks in young plants. It is used by farmers for large-scale crop plantation to prevent disease incidences.
How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Plants
As aforementioned, hydrogen peroxide should be used in a diluted form for plants. Using an increased dosage leads to detrimental effects on plants. You can purchase 3% hydrogen peroxide from health food centers for use in your gardening project. Those who are familiar with this acid can consider diluting hydrogen peroxide at 35% strength for the same.
- Treat soil with dilute acid before you start with planting flowers and vegetables. By doing so, you are enriching the soil medium with water and oxygen. In case of weak or drying plants, spraying diluted hydrogen peroxide benefits in restoring normal growth.
- For treating seeds, dilute one ounce of hydrogen peroxide in one quart of water. Soak seeds with this solution and sow in garden soil to get healthy sprouts. After seedling transplantation, you can continue regular watering and misting with dilute hydrogen peroxide solution.
- Spray diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide to control diseases and pests in regular garden plants as well as in hydroponic plants. For existing diseases, use 3% hydrogen peroxide over the affected plant parts to contain the spread of the disease.
- For large fields, a spraying solution can be prepared by mixing 35% hydrogen peroxide (5 ounces) with water (20 gallons). Based on the purpose for application, strength of the mixture can be increased to 2 times or more.
- If you are interested in making a homemade insecticide for your garden plants, you can do so by mixing 8 ounces each of hydrogen peroxide and sugar along with 1 gallon of water. Keep this concoction in a dark bottle, and you can spray it on plants whenever required.
As we have seen, the application of hydrogen peroxide is mainly attributed to its oxidizing and disinfectant properties. Not only for humans and animals, but this chemical also acts as an effectual first aid remedy for plants.
For ease in application, fill it in a regular misting spray bottle. However, ensure that you store hydrogen peroxide in its original, dark-colored bottle to preserve its chemical properties.