Do you have a plant that you’re ready to abandon? Maybe you’ve already tried every plant care trick, and you just can’t make it happy. Or perhaps you’re dealing with diseases, pests, or root rot. All these can spell disaster for your plant.
Well, hydrogen peroxide could save the day. This chemical substance is super versatile, even in the garden. This guide will teach you how to revive your dying plant with hydrogen peroxide.
Before you get started, you’ll need some things first, including:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Watering can
- Spray bottle
Why Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide is a colorless and odorless liquid commonly used in the medical field and households as a disinfectant. You will likely find it on the low-dosage shelf at your local pharmacy; 3 percent is the lowest and most common concentration.
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2 ) contains one more oxygen molecule than water does, which is part of why plants love it. It occurs naturally in rainwater, so consider feeding hydrogen peroxide to your indoor plants that only get tap water. (But you can also use hydrogen peroxide for your outdoor garden.) Hydrogen peroxide is especially good for your plants’ roots.
Step One: Assess Your Plant
The first step is to assess your plant(s) to see whether it’s worth saving. There are many reasons your plant may be dying. The rule of thumb is if there’s still green on the plant, there is hope.
If you are unsure, look at your plant’s central stem. For woody plants, use a fingernail or knife to gently scrape back the bark. Unless it’s mushy or brown, you should be able to bring it back to life.
Even if the stem of your plant appears dead, it’s a good idea to take it out of the pot or dig it up to inspect the roots before tossing it in the garbage. It may come back if enough of the root system is still alive. If the roots are mushy, yellow, or black, that indicates root rot.
Healthy roots will be white. Overwatering and fungus are common causes of root rot, which can be deadly if left untreated. Using scissors, remove all affected roots before continuing with treatment.
While digging through the soil, keep an eye out for corms (fleshy, underground stems). You may find these in the pots of certain plants, such as alocasias, which you can use to propagate and start a new plant.
Step Two: Prepare the Solution
Hydrogen peroxide is a common chemical that quickly breaks down into water and oxygen. However, it is toxic to inhale, poisonous to ingest, and corrosive to the skin and eyes, especially in high concentrations.
When mixing a 3 percent solution, it is good practice to wear gloves to protect your hands. As a safety precaution, and when handling higher concentrations, it’s also a good idea to wear goggles to protect your eyes.
Mix the hydrogen peroxide with water at a ratio of 1½ teaspoons of peroxide to 1 cup of water. Depending on the size of your plant, you may need more than one teaspoon. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down quite quickly, so make small batches and use it as soon as possible.
Step Three: Treat Your Plant
Once you have taken your plant out of its pot or dug it up, thoroughly rinse it with water, removing as much of the soil as possible. Pour the hydrogen peroxide solution into a bowl or pot and place the roots in the solution, soaking for a few hours. There is no harm in leaving it longer as the hydrogen peroxide will break down into water over time.
After soaking, repot or replant in new soil. If root rot is an issue, add an additive to assist drainage, such as perlite. Using a watering can, water the plant with the hydrogen peroxide solution and then leave it, preferably in a shaded or lower-light location. Doing so will help with transplant shock. Recheck the plant in a week, and only water when the top few inches of soil are dry. If problems persist, you can continue to water with the peroxide solution instead of water until the plant recovers.
If pests are the issue, you must treat the leaves. Mix the same hydrogen peroxide solution and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the top and bottom of each leaf and leave for a few minutes before wiping with a microfibre cloth. Repeat daily for a few weeks until all signs of the pests are gone.
The lifecycle of gnats, for example, is two weeks, so it’s essential to continue treatment for at least this long, even if you notice improvement. You can also spray the soil around the plant daily when you spray the leaves to kill any pests on the surface of the soil.
Step Four: Aftercare
Once you’ve revived your dying plant, you’ll want to keep a close eye on it. If any of the problems resurface, treat your plants again. In low concentrations, hydrogen peroxide is not toxic to your plant, and multiple treatments will not harm it. After a few weeks, move your plant back to its original location, or find a new spot if you think the site was a factor.
Lack of light, overwatering, and compacted soil can all contribute to mold, root rot, and pests. Only water your plants when the top few inches of soil are dry and aerate the soil of potted plants regularly with a skewer to reduce compacted soil.
Try Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a miraculous tool to use in the garden for plant care. If you have a plant that is dying from fungus, mold, or powdery mildew, hydrogen peroxide may be your solution! Give it a try, and share your experience in the comments!