- Aug 4, 2007
- Reaction score
- Northeast Illinois
From time to time I water plants with H2O2, particularly when we get heavy rains in the spring and I feel they are drowning. I believe my temperate species derive substantial benefits from H202 waterings. I recently over potted a few orchids (didn't have just the right size pot so opted to go larger than smaller which was evidently a poor choice) and was also chatting with someone who mentioned they have a tendency to overwater and got to thinking... why not water orchids that we buy that have some failing root systems when we get them and why not water over potted orchids with H2O2 every once in a while?
Roots require Oxygen to breathe and low levels are the main cause of almost all root diseases. Both soil and hydroponic plants often fall prey to the same syndrome although it is rarely recognized as what it really is. Hydroponic crops often fail due to "root rot" and soil crops succumb to "over watering." The real cause of both these problems is a shortage of Oxygen at the root zone. In a soil system the soil consists of particles, a film of water on the particles and air spaces between the particles. When too much water is put into the soil the air spaces fill with liquid. The roots will quickly use up what Oxygen is dissolved in the water, if they haven't drunk enough of the liquid to allow air back in to the soil spaces they will stop working. In this situation roots will start dying within twenty-four hours. As the roots die the plants ability to drink water and nutrients will decrease, this will cause symptoms of nutrient deficiencies (mostly pale, slow, weak growth), and strangely they will start to wilt like they don't have enough water. It is easy to make a fatal mistake at this point and add more water.
In a Hydroponic system the cause is a more direct simple lack of oxygen in the solution, this may be from inadequate circulation and/or aeration. High reservoir temperatures also interfere with Oxygen's ability to dissolve in the water. Temperatures above 70F (20C) will eventually cause problems, 62F-65F (16C-18C) is recommended. The same symptoms will appear as with soil plants but you can also check the roots. Healthy roots should be mostly white with maybe a slight yellowish tan tinge. If they are a brownish colour with dead tips or they easily pull away there is at least the beginnings of a serious problem. An organic dirtlike rotting smell means there is already a very good chance it is too late. As roots die and rot they eat Oxygen out of the water, as Oxygen levels are even further depleted more roots die, a viscius circle may be well under way. Reduced Oxygen levels and high temperatures both encourage anaerobic bacteria and fungi. The plants may still be saved but you will have to work fast.
3. How Hydrogen Peroxide prevents root rot/overwatering.
When plants are watered with H2O2 it will break down and release Oxygen into the area around the roots. This helps stop the Oxygen from being depleted in the water filled air spaces until air can get back into them. High Oxygen levels at the roots will encourage rapid healthy root growth. In a Hydroponic system H2O2 will disperse through out the system and raise Oxygen levels as it breaks down. Strong white healthy roots with lots of fuzzy new growth will be visible. This fuzzy growth has massive surface area allowing for rapid absorption of the huge amounts of water and nutrients needed for rapid top growth. A healthy plant starts with a healthy root system.