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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Impact of hydrogen peroxide as a soil amendment on nasturtiums

Authors
item Webber, Charles
item Sandtner, Steven - RETIRED CHEMIST
item Webber JR., Charles - MASTER GARDENER

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Restoration
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 2010
Publication Date: November 2, 2010
Citation: Webber III, C.L., Sandtner, S., Webber Jr., C.L. 2009. Impact of hydrogen peroxide as a soil amendment on nasturtiums. Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Restoration. 6:110-113.

Interpretive Summary: There are anecdotal reports that hydrogen peroxide provides growth benefits beyond controlling plant infection and plant stress. Hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, is naturally occurring in plants and animals. Plants produce hydrogen peroxide to destroy either their infected plant cells or the pathogens within their cells. Hydrogen peroxide produced in the plant also signals the rest of the plant that it’s undergoing stress. It is used to control microbial pests, fungi, and bacteria that cause plant diseases and can be applied as a foliar spray, a dip for cuttings and roots, and a pre-planting soil treatment. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of soil applications of hydrogen peroxide solutions on plant growth and flowering. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus L.) cv. ‘Scarlet Glean Improved’ seedlings in pots were irrigated with either distilled water, tap water, or hydrogen peroxide solutions. The hydrogen peroxide treatments included 0.005% H2O2 (1X), 0.05% H2O2 (10X), and 0.1% H2O2 (20X), which are equivalent to 1.3, 13, and 26 tsp/gallons of 3% hydrogen peroxide. The foliage and root fresh and dry weights harvested at 22 days after initiating treatment (DAIT) and the fresh weights at 33 DAIT were not significantly different as a result of the hydrogen peroxide concentrations. Concentrations did significantly impact the foliage, root, and total dry weights at 33 DAIT. The 1X concentration produced significantly greater amounts of nasturtium foliage and total plant dry weights at 33 DAIT compared to the 10X concentration, but it was not significantly different from the distilled and tap water applications. The 20X root dry weights were significantly greater than all other treatments except the 1X concentration. The 1X concentration produced significantly greater total number of flowers than either the 10X or 20X concentrations and 64 and 57% greater number of flowers than the distilled and tap water treatments. The results indicate that watering nasturtiums at the tested hydrogen peroxide application rates did not provide a significant benefit to nasturtium plant growth and flowering. The 10X (0.05% H2O2) and 20X (0.1% H2O2) actually decreased plant foliage dry weights and flower numbers. The most likely explanation for the anecdotal reports of dramatic growth stimulus of hydrogen peroxide watering solutions may be a result of decreasing or eliminating diseases in the soil containers rather than it serving as a direct stimulus to the plant.

Technical Abstract: Hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, is a highly reactive oxidizing agent naturally occurring in plants and animals. Plants produce hydrogen peroxide to destroy either their infected plant cells or the pathogens within their cells. Hydrogen peroxide also acts as a stress signal to plants. It is approved for controlling microbial pests, fungi, and bacteria that cause plant diseases and can be applied as a foliar spray, a dip for cuttings and roots, and a pre-planting soil treatment. There are anecdotal reports that hydrogen peroxide provides additional growth benefits beyond controlling plant infection and plant stress. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of soil applications of hydrogen peroxide solutions on plant growth and flowering. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus L.) cv. ‘Scarlet Glean Improved’ seedlings in pots were irrigated with either distilled water, tap water, or hydrogen peroxide solutions. The hydrogen peroxide treatments included 0.005% H2O2 (1X), 0.05% H2O2 (10X), and 0.1% H2O2 (20X), which are equivalent to 1.67, 16.67, and 33.32 ml•L**-1 of 3% hydrogen peroxide. The foliage and root fresh and dry weights harvested at 22 days after initiating treatment (DAIT) and the fresh weights at 33 DAIT were not significantly different as a result of the hydrogen peroxide concentrations. Concentrations did significantly impact the foliage, root, and total dry weights at 33 DAIT. The 1X concentration produced significantly greater amounts of nasturtium foliage and total plant dry weights at 33 DAIT compared to the 10X concentration, but it was not significantly different from the distilled and tap water applications. The 20X root dry weights were significantly greater than all other treatments except the 1X concentration. The 1X concentration produced significantly greater total number of flowers than either the 10X or 20X concentrations and 64 and 57% greater number of flowers than the distilled and tap water treatments. The results indicate that watering nasturtiums at the tested hydrogen peroxide application rates did not provide a significant benefit to nasturtium plant growth and flowering. The 10X (0.05% H2O2) and 20X (0.1% H2O2) actually decreased plant foliage dry weights and flower numbers. The most likely explanation for the anecdotal reports of dramatic growth stimulus of hydrogen peroxide watering solutions may be a result of decreasing or eliminating diseases in the soil containers rather than it serving as a direct stimulus to the plant.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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