Zach has been an online writer for over seven years. His writing focuses on gardening, cooking, and aquariums.
Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe for Plants?
Hydrogen peroxide for plants sounds like pure madness, right? After all, why would you want to feed your garden vegetables with a solution that's most famous for disinfecting wounds?
Well, to much surprise, this compound is actually the garden's best mate. That's right, your garden can greatly benefit from hydrogen peroxide treatments!
It might come as even more of a surprise to hear that it is completely compatible with organic gardens! So why is it so great? Well, you'll just have to keep reading to find out, but how does natural pesticide, soil aerator, and water cleanser sound for a preview?
The Benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide in the Garden
Hydrogen peroxide offers many benefits to gardeners and is recognized as an organic treatment for agricultural crops by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Pesticide and Fungicide
When it comes to the cultivation of organic food crops, rootworms and other soil pests are difficult to spot and even more difficult to treat. Fortunately, feeding a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to the infected plants will rid them of these soil-dwelling pests.
Even a small amount will rapidly degrade external tissues and kill fungus, gnat larvae, cutworms, and parasitic nematodes upon contact. A diluted solution can also be applied as a foliage spray to control the populations of soft-bodied pests, such as aphids and spider mites.
Soil Aeration and Root-Rot Treatment
An over-watered garden can easily fall victim to root rot. This rapid deterioration of plant roots can establish itself after just 24 hours of moist, oxygen-deprived soil conditions.
Again, hydrogen peroxide comes to the rescue! Watering thoroughly with a diluted solution, it will break down rapidly in the soil, boosting oxygen levels and expelling any anaerobic conditions.
Many gardeners in urban areas with chemically treated municipal tap water choose to treat their water with hydrogen peroxide.
Due to its strong oxidation properties, it will remove chlorine, chemical pesticides and any organics that may be present.
Why Hydrogen Peroxide Works
The cleansing, insecticidal and aeration properties of hydrogen peroxide are all made possible by the chemical reaction that takes place when it breaks down.
Without going deep into chemistry, it should at least be known that under normal conditions, it will decompose to form water and oxygen. The formula can be observed as such: 2H2O2 becomes 2H2O + O2.
In the initial part of the reaction, a single oxygen atom is formed. Since it is unstable, this oxygen molecule will bind quickly.
The majority of the time, the oxygen will bind with another oxygen to form a stable O2 molecule (aeration property), but some of the time, it will react with the organic tissue of pests, thus acting as an oxidizer that destroys tissue (pesticide property).
How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Treat Soil Pests and Root Rot
- Mix one part of additive-free 35% hydrogen peroxide with 10 parts water.
- Water infected plants thoroughly. The soil will bubble as the oxygen is released.
- For pests, water with the mixture twice a week, allowing the top 2 inches of soil to dry between watering. Root pests should subside within a week.
- For root rot, water plants very thoroughly, then allow the soil to dry. The top 2-3 inches of soil should be completely dry before returning to a regular water regimen. If the process is done correctly, root rot can easily be treated with only one watering of peroxide.
How to Use It as a Foliage Pesticide and Fungicide Spray
- Mix equal parts 3% hydrogen peroxide and distilled water.
- Use a spray bottle to thoroughly soak the infected plants. Make sure to get the undersides of the leaves.
- Spray once a week or after it rains. Hydrogen peroxide both treats and further prevents pest infestation.
This weaker solution will prevent damage to the leaves but is effective as a general insecticide. I've found that it is effective against a variety of mites and aphids.
Because it also has fungicidal properties, one may find it as a possible solution to mildew and fungus outbreaks.
How to Use It as a Water Treatment
For a general water treatment and dechlorinator, mix one tablespoon hydrogen peroxide for every gallon of water used.
The hydrogen peroxide acts instantly to drive out chlorine, excess iron and sulfates.
A Word of Warning
You'll be pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide for plants! My one word of caution is to avoid using it in the soil too often. Since it will easily rid your soil of harmful pests, it can also take its toll on beneficial soil organisms.
So, use it wisely and only treat when an infection or rot has been confirmed. Thanks for reading my article. Leave me any feedback or questions that you may have!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Zach
firstname.lastname@example.org on July 15, 2020:
Your article was som very helpful. I can hardly wait to try the new remedies.
Caroline Reliford on June 23, 2020:
I Question the integrity of a company who offers a free gift for doing survey and then the only option they give after taking the survey is no thanks I am not interested in a free gift plus how do you answer the last question honestly when you have not even received the product you just ordered Well I DO NOT KNOW but if your product is a scam and it really does not work I WILL BE expecting a refund
Georgia on June 17, 2020:
My plants keep showing up with mushrooms in the durt, I hurd it meant that there is to much fungicide in the durt is that turn and if so will the hydrogen peroxide help that....Thank You
Rasheed on April 17, 2020:
How much amount mix in per liter water for pesticide or insect plants
Mollie Newsome on January 18, 2020:
Do I have to have distilled water or can boiled tap water be effective?
Grace on July 26, 2019:
Rather than distilled water, would bottled or tap water be ok?
Carrie on May 31, 2019:
I mixed 1 quart of 3% HP to 2 gallons of water. I put about 1.5 cups of the mix onto the ground, near the base, of my infant trees (about a foot tall). There was no bubbling when I did this. I'm looking for oxygen for over watered plants due to the high ain't of rain and flooding, here in central MO. Does no bubbling mean anything?!
Dr Vinay on May 26, 2019:
Really helpful article. Can I fumigate my soil before planting ? How much concentration will be good ? How many days it keep to make soil plantable again? Thanks
Dave on May 11, 2019:
Wrong. Pouring peroxide in any amount directly into soil to cure root rot (or any soil ailment for that matter) is bad (and quite stupid) 2-fold;
1) you're killing _all_ the microbes. The good and the bad.. Not just the nasties. Furthermore, the very fungi responsible for root rot THRIVES in sterile/semisterile environments. In short, while you may 50/50 cure your root rot, closing that door with peroxide to such end is *guaranteed* to open a window for future problems! At worst, even 3% diluted to basically nothing CAN burn your roots especially if you've recently used fertilizers.
2) Please will not, in absolutely no way shape or form, serve as a useful insecticide. You are better off using a spray designed specifically for your bug issues. Also, spraying peroxide in any concentration onto foliage already damaged by insects will immediately cause burn spots to the affected area. Say for instance the big green leaves on your tomato plants already have invisible holes from thrips, surprise, the puncture wounds will spot!
In all honesty, the only appropriate use of peroxide is for treating leaf fungus & spot molds - Spray a 3% solution directly from the bottle (don't dilute 3%, this is already quite dilute and quite adequate for the problem!) on onto affected areas. Try NOT to spray the soil directly, although a light mist to the surface will not hurt). Peroxide is not a 100% safe miracle gardening cure-all.
Please use appropriate gardening solutions (fertilizer, insecticide, etc) and do not do not do NOT deviate from the label's instructions! Your plants will thank you! Also, to put you at ease regarding the "chemicals" argument, peroxide (h2o2) itself is a chemical, and not a particularly benign one in itself. The schtick I see too much of on the web talking about 'extra oxygen this' and 'releasing locked nutrients that's - It's bogus. Though the theory sounds intuitive, that's just not how chemistry works in the real world. You must consider absolutely everything you've added to your soil, benign or not, as it can in a lot of cases cause reactions that create compounds toxic to your little green babies!!
Good luck and happy gardening!! I promise this comment absolutely is not intended to be a rant!! I just feel it necessary to debunk some of this peroxide hype that's been exploding on the web as of late.
MAGIC STICK on December 19, 2018:
Any concerns or negative results , using HP during flower cycle ? Seeing early signs of PM. Thinking of using HP thru out the GH to eradicate, and prevent outbreak. I assume fans are also contaminated at the point.
Grant on November 26, 2018:
Can it work as a complete replacement for water?
Joan on July 03, 2018:
Will hydrogen peroxide also prevent the soft rot on Iris planted?
Diana on March 24, 2018:
Any recs on a non-additive hydrogen peroxide solution? The only kinds I'm finding are "stabilized" 3% solutions (which I assume means they have additives). Looking to treat my potted plants that have fungus gnats. Thanks!
Marianne on March 04, 2018:
Can it work against thrips
Ali on February 23, 2018:
Fantastic.......have read a few things about H2O2.......but your instructions and details are the clearest.
Shirley on February 20, 2018:
Does this mixture work on orchids?
Anon on January 12, 2018:
How could i dilute 34% to make a safe foliar spray? What ratio or millilters per gallon? Great article-Thank you!
Zach (author) from Colorado on December 29, 2017:
Hi Kathy! Great question. Once the HP is applied to the soil, it will most likely kill any soft bodied insects/eggs/larvae present. The good news is that HP rapidly breaks down within a few minutes and any eggs/insects that come after this time will be unaffected.
Kathy on November 30, 2017:
I have powdery mildew on corky stem passion vine and read that, once I clean the bad leaves and remove all from the soil that I should treat the top soil with HP/H2O. I'm guessing the zebra butterfly eggs and larvae will die off during the treatment of foliage (not with HP) and soil. Do you have any experience with affects on caterpillars and butterfly eggs?
Alexander on October 18, 2017:
Very interesting, mate!
Calendula on September 02, 2017:
Can I use the 3% kind to get rid of soil pests too? What would be the ration to mix it? Thanks!
Hitesh on August 21, 2017:
How can I plant seeds samurai in my home?
carmen pangan on August 08, 2017:
good to know..thank you for the info.
Jenny on August 05, 2017:
I'm going to try this in my greenhouse as I fear I may have spider mites and definitely gnats. Thank you
Msloan on August 05, 2017:
What a suprise. Why have we not received this information from our extension agents? Thanks bunches for this inexpensive useful tool
Blia on August 04, 2017:
I have lots of tropical plants and dragon fruit plant and orchid cactus is it good to use it on these plants. When ever I take the plant inside for like few wks for the winter they get little bugs crawling and eating the outside of the plant to make the color change to brown and try to heel itself.
Ted Atkinson on August 04, 2017:
Thanks for the hopefully cure of the root rot problen of one of our 6 American Boxwoods.
I will let you know how it does.
Ted Raleigh NC
judy justice on July 19, 2017:
Can it be used on house plants?
Kathy on July 14, 2017:
Can I mix the hydrogen peroxide and water and use it for several days or should it be mixed fresh every day? Wasn't sure if it would deteriate or not.
Cassius on July 10, 2017:
Thanks man for the assistance, I have done this application before I read this article and it confirm what I did find out was true. I have used peroxide in waste water treatment and it kills the green algae, that is fungal in water or dams.
Susan on July 09, 2017:
Interesting article! I have a question, though...
My zinnias have had athids for over a month and I have been spraying them with insecticidal soap whenever I can(we have had so much rain). They now have developed black spot and I am now(not at the same time as the insecticide) spraying them with Eco-PM fungicide by Arborjet. It is a natural nontoxic product safe for people, pets, wildlife and the environment. So, after this long explanation...my question is, if I spray with the hydrogen peroxide mix will this take care of the athids AND the black spot? It would be wonderful if one nontoxic product could take care of both problems.
Appreciate your input.
Katwoman on June 30, 2017:
I'm going to attempt to try this on my African violets. I have over 200 plants and due to reservoir watering I have spread my nematodes. I'll start with just a few and will report back. Thanks for the tip!
dustin on June 29, 2017:
Thank you soooo much
miki on June 15, 2017:
thank you! i just watered my seeedlings with this solution. will see if it perks up the less healthier plants
Alstasan Silvox on May 26, 2017:
Nano silver hydrogen peroxide based disinfectant, fumigant, sanitizer and sterilant. Chemtex Speciality is a worldwide manufacturer, supplier & exporter of ALSTASAN SILVOX.
Shubham Karnani on May 26, 2017:
Hydrogel Polymer marketed by Chemtex Speciality Limited under the name Alsta Hydrogel is a water retaining agent with the capacity of holding up to 400 – 600 times water than its own weight. Hydrogel agriculture or the use of super absorbent polymer for agriculture refers to hydrogel polymer application in soils for the purpose of stably providing water to the plants irrespective of drought and dry seasons. The plants can absorb water from this nontoxic water absorbent polymer throughout. Hydrogel in Agriculture is a potassium based super absorbent polymer acting in drought prone areas and rain-fed agriculture as a water retaining agent.
Diane Brown from Philadelphia on May 24, 2017:
How to use the hydrogen peroxide as an insecticide is very helpful. While I learned about it's use from another website, you provided detailed information on how to use it. I have started an indoor organic vegetable garden and recently noticed a little molding in the drainage rocks, as well as a few little flying bugs in some (not all) of the plants . After reading your instructions I just bought the hydrogen peroxide and will be following the guidelines you have provided for combining with water. I am very optimistic and look forward to positive results. Thank you for sharing.
heidi on April 11, 2017:
Loved this page. Have a great day.
Judi on March 30, 2017:
Very interesting..I was told when I bought roses by the clerk to use a cap of peroxide in the water instead of the packet that comes with it. He said it will evev keep my vade clean...so I was curious
Mata on March 26, 2017:
WoW! Thank you
Senchie on March 08, 2017:
Thanks for this article. Will this treatment affect worms in the plant pot?
Khushal chauhan, Simla, INDIA. on February 16, 2017:
After banning chloropicrin and methyle broimde for disinfecting orchard soil prior to replanting apple trees,I was in search of alternative chemical. Iam extermely glad to know about the use of Nano-Silver -Hydrogen -Peroxide, in agriculture for soil disinfection. I feel my problem is solved.
Linda Zee on January 03, 2017:
I put it in my pond when I see string algae. Peroxide kills it off. My pond is about 5000 gallons, I throw about 5 or 6 bottles of standard H2O in it in the Spring and that does the trick. Won't hurt the fish.
Desiree on November 30, 2016:
I am doing a project similar to this and I have one out of three plants growing so far with using the perioxide to plant them. I am growing basils, cucumbers,and lettuce. The basil is the only growing.
Anna Owens on October 10, 2016:
Thanks for the tip! I will be trying it out soon.
The dirt worker on September 05, 2016:
Thanks for all the tips
debra on March 12, 2016:
What a great article. Here is another HP trick. I tried soaking my seeds in a 10:1 ratio of Water to HP this year. I used two varieties of basil. Half of the seeds of each type was soaked in just water and the other half was soaked in the HP mixture. The ones soaked in the HP mixture sprouted and grew faster and stronger than those soaked in just water.
Judy on January 19, 2016:
Thank you so much for sharing this information!
Zach (author) from Colorado on August 04, 2015:
Angel - Hydrogen peroxide will rapidly degrade into water and oxygen once it is applied. As long as you don't directly spray the bees or butterflies, they will be just fine. Thanks for reading!
Angel on August 01, 2015:
I'm new to gardening and have an African Daisy that was gorgeous and I'm pretty sure is being ravaged by fungus now. But will hydrogen peroxide treatments harm bees and/or butterflies? I'd like to avoid that but I want my African Daisy to thrive too. Help!
itslola on July 06, 2015:
So happy to find a place with informative and helpful information about using hydrogen peroxide!
Nancy Carles Muir on June 07, 2015:
is the peroxide safe for pets if used this wat?
poppy mercer from London on October 01, 2014:
Lovely clear article. My sedum spectabile suffered rot badly this year due to the wet spring. I'm just about to lift, divide and wound dress with peroxide.
CherylsArt on September 15, 2014:
Interesting. I would have never thought of hydrogen peroxide for the garden.
Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on September 15, 2014:
Good tips I have not heard of using peroxide for plants before, but I know it has many household uses. Lucky for us it is still inexpensive.
Zach (author) from Colorado on April 24, 2014:
Jen Dittrick - A diluted foliar spray should work just fine for your flowers. Just make sure that the solution is not too strong, or else it could potentially burn the leaves.
Jen Dittrick from Yorkton, Saskatchewan on April 23, 2014:
I know this is an older post but I just found it through Pinterest. It's been repinned. :) Anyway, I am very interested in using this method. Is it safe on flowers?? I plant Dahlias and was wondering if I can spray my Dahlias with the peroxide to get rid of the pests that always chew the leaves and petals.
Samuel Barrett from Douglas County, Oregon on August 19, 2013:
seems to have a million uses! you can treat a pond with it to to oxygenate it!
savvydating on June 30, 2013:
This is truly amazing! I do not have aphids now, but if I do, I'm heading straight for the HP. I have heard, however, that hydrogen peroxide is a good cleanser for toothbrushes. Thanks for this valuable information. If I understand correctly, we must use a 10 to 1 mixture. (Voting up and useful)
wanda on June 29, 2013:
Could you use as a vegetable wash? Can't wait to try on problems don't have any as of yet so far so good. Thank you
Judy Specht from California on June 24, 2013:
The hydrogen peroxide worked like a charm. Washed the larva off the underside of the leafs nicely.
Zach (author) from Colorado on June 24, 2013:
Probably not. Curling of the leaves can be caused by numerous different symptoms. It's best to try to isolate the issue before treating.
Elaine Baldwin on June 21, 2013:
Will HP help with curly leaf problems?
Zach (author) from Colorado on June 12, 2013:
Besides haggard being my favorite word, it sure is the perfect way of describing how insects look after the Hydrogen Peroxide treatment! I'm glad it worked out for you. Feel free to share and link all you want! Thanks for reading.
Judy Specht from California on June 11, 2013:
Also would like to share and link to my garden hubs if you don't mind.
Judy Specht from California on June 11, 2013:
Splendid hub. Am battling squash beetles. Just tried washing the larva off with peroxide. The only actual beetle I found looked haggard. Hopefully this will take care of the problem. Voting up and useful.
Fred Bohman from Orange County, CA on April 23, 2013:
Very interesting, organic is definitely the way to go. Great hub.
elaine on April 23, 2013:
If the peroxide as a water treatment drives out chlorine, lead, etc. where do they go? Really, this sounds sarcastic, but I don't know.
RTalloni on April 18, 2013:
Thanks for this look at using hydrogen peroxide for plant health. It's news to me.
Carol on March 15, 2013:
Okay Cool! I wasn't sure if hair peroxide was a little different..
Hopefully my gnat infestation is on its way out. Thanks!!
Btw, I found you through Pinterest and you were re-pinned :)
Zach (author) from Colorado on March 14, 2013:
Both 30 & 40% peroxide can be used. Just be sure to dilute the mixture down to about 3-4% hydrogen peroxide. This can be accomplished by mixing one part peroxide with 10 parts water. Thanks for reading and good luck with those gnats!
Carol on March 11, 2013:
Can I use peroxide bought from the beauty supply, say 40 vol. cut down or even the 30 vol.? If so, how would you dilute it (ie measurements)
I would really like to try this as I have the Fly Gnats in my plants and can't get rid of them! :(
specializedparts on February 27, 2013:
Wow! This is a truly excellent Hub! I think I will use this on my indoor plant. I transplanted and the new soil sucks. It now has some root rot I believe and this might be the answer!
Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on February 26, 2013:
Great helpful tip. I have never heard of this so I've learned something new. Thanks very much.
DommaLeigh on February 26, 2013:
I use the dish soap trick to keep pests off my trees and strawberries but my lawn keeps getting invaded with grubs from my neighbors. Will this work on grubs in a lawn?
Zach (author) from Colorado on February 25, 2013:
Brazzy - When hydrogen peroxide is added to the soil, it will degrade all soft tissues, including those of beneficial earthworms. For this reason, I recommend applying peroxide only to container plants if you're worried about the safety of your earthworms. Your herbs will be fine. Thanks for reading.
Brazzy on February 25, 2013:
The peroxide is good for getting rid of some worms as noted, but how will it affect the good worms that I want in my soil? I don't have space for fruit or veggies, just some flowers. I have some herbs growing but no worms to worry about in those containers.
furniturez from Washington on August 08, 2012:
I've been telling people this for years... thank you!
mrslaurendickerson on July 30, 2012:
Not only is hydrogen peroxide great for your garden, but also the gardener. Use 3/4cup in your bathwater to alleviate aches, pains and help with a cold or flu symptoms. I have been using peroxide for over 20 yrs to clean my house, maintain my garden and ease aches and pains. It is the most versatile bottle in my house. Even better than 35% is 100 volume, purchased from certain beauty supply companies.
CraZyHeaD on June 30, 2012:
Absolutely fantastic article. Very informative and knowledgeable. Thank you for saving everyone $$
Gillian Namele from Complicated on May 03, 2012:
Well, there is always the first time. Will try it. Thank you for the information. Voted up!
Jill Spencer from United States on May 01, 2012:
Good to know! Will have to try it. Thanks! (Voted up & useful.)
Zach (author) from Colorado on January 23, 2012:
leann2800 & lisa.bom - I'm glad that you both were able to find this helpful. I hope that it helps you fight those pesky critters in the garden!
lisa.bom on January 21, 2012:
Great information. I am going to try it in my garden in the spring. Thank you for being so informative.
leann2800 on January 21, 2012:
I have heard of a lot of household chemicals for the garden but not this one. Thanks for sharing.