H2O2: PEROXIDE PLANT PERFECTION
or Just Another “Blonde Moment”?
by IAN MALLEY
WHEN YOU FIRST GET EMBROILED in the world of growing your own
produce it can seem a bit of a minefield when it comes time to
hitting the indoor gardening shop in search of your grow-room
With so many different lotions, potions, additives, supplements,
etc., as well as pH up, pH down, buffering solutions, etc., to be
stocked up on by the first-time grower, it becomes difficult to see
the wood for the trees. Expensive too, at least initially.
So how can you be sure that the grow shop is not spinning you a line
with regard to what’s “necessary” and what is a “beneficial” or
growers choice, (like Liquid Silicon)?
I come from the old “organic” less-is-more school of thought.
Essentially, if it doesn’t smell like it’s just been shovelled off
the farmyard floor, then I don’t want to know about it, preferring
the sweet taste of truly organic grown produce.
But the truth of the matter is, this short-sighted approach to
growing means I miss out on a lot of things that other growers take
for granted. Like massive hydro yields for instance!
There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that given a pack of seeds
and a 14-week diary to keep, the hydro-grown plants will grow
bigger, faster, and stronger than similar plants grown under organic
conditions, and here’s the reasoning as I see it.
Organic nutrients tend to comprise “raw materials,” that is, a set
of components that, as they stand in the bottle, are almost useless
to the roots. This is why organic fertilizers seldom work very well
when fed to hydroponically grown plants unless accompanied by a
heady mix of bacteria, as seen in the new breed of “bio” hydro
nutrients, such as BioSevia.
But for the privilege of using a bio-product we have to spend even
more of our hard-earned on buying the bacterial solutions we need to
add to get the fertilizer to work as it’s meant to. Not exactly cost
effective for the grower on a tight budget.
In hydro there are no bacteria at the root zone. Not good bacteria,
anyway. We feed bare roots with a cocktail of salt-based fertilizers
that are, once mixed with water, absolutely ready for the grower to
serve, and for the plants to use, as is. Fast, as well as efficient
and straight to the point (or is that straight to the roots?).
But with organic gardening, things happen a little differently.
First of all, we actually encourage microbial activity at the root
zone, because this is the organism that actually processes the raw
materials we provide and, in doing so, feeds the plants. Of course
(as mentioned earlier), there are good bacteria as well as bad
bacteria, and this is where the boundaries become a little blurred.
So, I’m standing in the hydroponics shop looking at the obligatory
solutions required for a successful grow, and the owner points out
the H2O2. So I pick up the bottle and start to read the label:
“Contains Hydrogen Peroxide at 17.5%”!
It’s worth mentioning at this stage that science lessons were never
really my strong point in that dim and distant memory which is my
school days. I hardly attended any of them, for one thing. Happiest
days of your life?
The facts of the matter as I see them are as follows: why on earth
would I spend good money on nurturing a healthy and active
micro-herd in the root zone and then set about pouring hydrogen
peroxide over them? It’s corrosive, and it makes your hair go white!
So I set about finding out the reason, and what I found was like an
epiphany of enlightenment. It also made me wish I had paid more
attention during my previously mentioned science lessons, because I
would have been using this stuff a long time ago.
How It Works
So, we pour hydrogen peroxide into our water, which gives a slight
reading of EC or electrical current/conductivity, so that needs
taking into account.
The H2O2 is very unstable in its current form and quickly breaks
down once in the nutrient solution. Essentially, within a short
space of time it’s present only in its component form, and in
reaching this form it releases a single oxygen atom. This oxygen
atom is ultra-reactive as well as aggressive. It’s looking for a
fight, but instead of looking to cause problems, it’s actually on
So the unstable single oxygen atom sets off, looking for mischief to
make. If it comes across another oxygen atom, it attaches itself to
the other atom, forming a larger, more stable oxygen molecule, or
ion. This gets taken in by the plant through the roots and benefits
growth above as well as within the root zone.
If, however, the rambunctious oxygen atom comes across an organic
molecule, such as a virus or fungal spore, as it waxes and wanes
through your nutrient solution, it will attach itself to the
pathogen and quite literally oxidize itself, as well as whatever
organism it had attached itself to.
And this stuff actually works!
So, what this means is not only does H2O2 supply the nutrients (and
indirectly, the plants) with a massive boost of pure oxygen ions, it
will play a huge part in keeping your reservoir fresh, highly
oxygenated, and free from organisms such as Pythium, Fusarium, and
mould, as well as a plethora of other nasties we encounter daily as
Not only that, but when the crop comes down there is no better
cleaning agent to use (albeit in higher concentrations) than
hydrogen peroxide. Not only will it clean as effectively as bleach
but, as explained earlier, it attaches itself to other organic micro
bad guys, and oxidizes them into nothingness. They simply cease to
exist, leaving your grow room clean, sterile, and ready for the next
With this in mind it’s worth mentioning that your hands are also
“organic organisms,” so its worth reading the safety data sheet,
which any good hydroponic shop will be able to supply with the
aggressive liquids they sell, as well as getting some gloves and
Speaking of goggles, I could tell you a nightmare about a grower who
left a pipette full of 81 per cent nitric acid hanging out the top
of the bottle, only to catch it with his sleeve, sending it airborne
and filling the surrounding environment with microscopic droplets of
industrial grade nitric acid at the perfect altitude and vector to
land in someone’s eyes. If you think safe, handling these ultra
nasty liquids becomes a whole lot easier.
But I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Cleaning is for
girlies!” and “What does it do for the plants?”
If it even needed saying, a fresh and regular exposure to pure
oxygen will work wonders in how your plants look and “feel.” Oxygen
invigorates, it heals, it’s present (and necessary) in every living
form, and plants just can’t get enough of it.
With lots of oxygen available, nutrient uptake is massively boosted,
and if the plant’s getting the nutrients, it will use them. Also,
this extra nutrient, along with a blast of oxygen, is going to
increase the production of proteins at cell level across the board,
especially if the plant is getting plenty of CO2 (the carbon source
the plants use to actually “build” themselves). This means thicker,
stronger stems with shorter internodal spacing, as well as lush,
deep-green healthy foliage. Which makes it also better equipped to
handle the complicated conversions as a result of the photosynthetic
processes the plant carries out in the creation of the sugars and
starch’s necessary to feed it.
As a result of this mad growth, your plants will supply readily the
smaller side branches necessary to facilitate a productive run of
So, no matter what your chosen growing method is, get some hydrogen
peroxide in the grow room. Whether used for oxygenation or for
pathogen destruction and prevention, or as a cleaning agent, H2O2
fills all these roles and more, with aplomb.