Hydrogen peroxide is best known for its use in the medical field: disinfecting wounds, and cleaning medical tools. But did you know that hydrogen peroxide is great for plants too? Check out these interesting ways you can improve your succulent garden with hydrogen peroxide:
What is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide, designated H2O2, is a chemical compound just one oxygen particle away from water. Typically, you’ll find hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet or at the doctors’ office as an antiseptic– used primarily in cleaning shallow wounds; the chemical is often diluted in stores. In its purest form, hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizing agent that should not be ingested.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Plants
Hydrogen peroxide’s oxidizing qualities are great for more than just skin– with plants, you can similarly use hydrogen peroxide to how we use it: for dealing with infections. When hydrogen peroxide comes in contact with bacteria on the skin or another surface, it releases radicals that weaken or destroy the cell’s proteins and protective membrane.
For plants, hydrogen peroxide can treat several infections that, while not always dangerous to humans, still have weaker cell membranes like human viruses and bacteria do. Like with humans and animals, you must dilute your hydrogen peroxide formula before using it.
Can you Use Hydrogen Peroxide on Succulents?
Succulents, like other plants, will benefit from a hydrogen peroxide cleanse if necessary. However, since succulents’ roots and leaves are so sensitive, you’ll need to further dilute the solution you’re using.
Risks of Using Hydrogen Peroxide on Succulents
For any living thing, you’ll have to dilute a pure hydrogen peroxide mixture before using it. When we buy hydrogen peroxide for our homes, it’s often diluted to concentrations between 3% and 9% hydrogen peroxide in water. You’ll need to dilute this mixture further in a 50/50 mixture of at-home hydrogen peroxide and water for plants. For succulents, it’s best only to use a few drops of hydrogen peroxide per cup of water.
Without diluting your hydrogen peroxide mixture, the chemical will oxidize more than just pathogen proteins and membranes. A 100% hydrogen peroxide solution will cause serious burns in humans, and in plants, it will cause chemical burns that kill the plant’s cells. For sensitive succulents, burn damage from hydrogen peroxide is even more common, and thus the mixture must be diluted further.
Benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide
Outside of its germicidal properties, hydrogen peroxide also appears in some fertilizers to stimulate plant growth. While a growth-boosting disinfectant sounds a bit wild, remember that hydrogen peroxide contains two oxygen molecules, making it closely related to water (water’s scientific name is dihydrogen monoxide).
The extra oxygen molecule is what benefits plants. Plants need oxygen to absorb nutrients through their roots, and the extra oxygen molecule in hydrogen peroxide is by no means wasted. The extra oxygen goes directly towards boosting plant growth by allowing plants to absorb more nutrients through their roots at a much faster rate.
Uses with Succulents
Like many plants, succulents will benefit from hydrogen peroxide in quite a few ways, but mainly when dealing with tricky pests:
Treating For Gnats
One of the best treatments for fungal gnats is hydrogen peroxide since the peroxide itself is an excellent treatment for fungus as a whole. Hydrogen peroxide is toxic to fungal gnats, as it can destroy their eggs’ protective protein membrane, killing gnat eggs and larvae on contact.
- How to Use
Mix your drugstore hydrogen peroxide with water, using one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide to one teaspoon of water. When dealing with gnats, it’s often best to repot your succulent with fresh soil and then spray your 50/50 mixture over the new soil to prevent further gnat development.
Fungal Infection Treatments
Hydrogen peroxide is also a fantastic treatment for fungal infections like mold, mildew, and leaf spots. Just like with gnat larvae, hydrogen peroxide oxidizes and destroys proteins that protect mold and fungi while they grow. Using hydrogen peroxide in small amounts can also prevent mold growth in your succulents– just be sure to keep the leaves as dry as possible!
- How to Use
With fungal infections, take a few drops of hydrogen peroxide and mix with a cup of distilled water to spray lightly over your succulent. When you spritz, be very careful to make sure your succulent is completely dry afterward. If your succulent struggles with fungal infections, consider repotting your succulent in a pot with better drainage and then spraying your hydrogen peroxide mixture.
Treating Root Rot
Root rot is caused by bacteria eating away at a plant’s roots and is a direct result of poor drainage and aeration in your succulent’s soil. When treating your succulents for early-stage root rot, hydrogen peroxide works just like it does on humans. By pouring a diluted solution over your succulent’s dry roots, it will kill the bacteria causing the root rot. After a thorough rinse and some more time to dry, you’ll be able to trim your succulent’s roots to remove any rotted parts.
- How to Use
Root rot can be difficult to treat since succulents with late-stage root rot are often unsalvageable without beheading the plant. For early-stage root rot, remove your succulent from its pot and let the roots dry completely. Then, trim away the rotted parts of the roots to prevent further spread. After pruning and letting the trimmed areas callous over, spray your water/hydrogen peroxide mixture on the roots to prevent further spread of the rot and kill off any potential bacteria.
Disinfecting your Tools
Even in the garden, hydrogen peroxide is still a great antiseptic. If you’re transplanting, repotting, or working with sick succulents, consider washing your tools with diluted hydrogen peroxide to kill off any fungi or bacteria that may stick to your pots and tools. Of course, always rinse your tools and pots completely before replanting!
- How to Use
Using hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant is a relatively simple task. Using a bottle of hydrogen peroxide you’d get at the drugstore, spray the solution liberally over your tools and pots. Then, wait five minutes and rinse off the hydrogen peroxide with soap and water.
SEE MORE ABOUT HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR STRING OF BANANAS
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