Treating Fungus on Fruit Trees Using Hydrogen PeroxideFaizan Khan
Fungi are one of the most notorious plant pathogens to exist. The decay and rot of a single subject lead to the wastage of the whole crop in mere days. So are there any treatment plants for this nuisance?
When it comes to killing microbes, there is no agent more potent than hydrogen peroxide. So how effective is it in killing plant fungi? If so, are there any added benefits of using hydrogen peroxide over other disinfecting tools?
Why Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide is indeed effective in killing germs and bacteria. But so are other disinfectants like ammonia and bleach. So why do we choose hydrogen peroxide over other conventional disinfecting agents and declare it the best when it comes to killing microbes, especially fungus from plants?
That’s because hydrogen peroxide is naturally found in plants! Unlike ammonia and chlorine (which can be harmful to the plant), an organic disinfecting agent like hydrogen peroxide can easily kill microbes without causing any damage to the plant.
Moreover, hydrogen peroxide has been shown to promote root growth and seed germination of plants. This is a two-step benefit of using hydrogen peroxide that it eliminates disease-causing fungi as well as strengthens plants. More benefits of hydrogen peroxide on plants are discussed later.
Last but not least, hydrogen peroxide is a completely organic disinfecting agent. This means, after breaking down, it liberates byproducts that are common to plants: water and oxygen. Both of them are completely safe and harmless to plant.
Now that we know some perks of using hydrogen peroxide over other disinfecting agents like chlorine and ammonia, we can move on to discuss the greatest benefit hydrogen peroxide gives: eliminating fungi.
The thing about fungi is that they spread quickly and are incredibly hard to get rid of. So if even one of the plants gets diseased with fungi, chances are it will rapidly spread to the whole population and lead to massive wastage.
Secondly, fungi like to grow in places that are damp and poorly oxygenated. Again, this goes to show how effective hydrogen peroxide therapy can be against these microbes.
When hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with air, it rapidly releases oxygen and water. And this oxygen has been widely used to prevent and treat soils that are poorly oxygenated or have high water content. Therefore, reinforcing the watering of plants with hydrogen peroxide can save you the trouble of fungal infestations.
Moreover, hydrogen peroxide is extremely apt in killing fungus. This is because the oxygen released from hydrogen peroxide quickly reacts with the fungal cell wall when it comes into contact. As a result, the most abundant component of the fungi cell wall, chitin, is rapidly oxidized and changed. This causes the cell integrity of the microbe to deform, and thereby, die!
Some Common Plant Fungus
Fungi are some of the most intriguing creatures in nature. However, they are not bacteria or plants or even animals for that matter and mostly rely on the parasitic modes of nutrition to survive.
Fungi commonly infest hosts like animals or plants and steal their nutrition to grow. Some of them are helpful to plants as they provide minerals like zinc. Generally, though, fungi lead to the death and decomposition of the plant host.
Below are some of the most common disease-causing fungus in fruit plants:
If you a fan of fresh fruits, you may recall this type of spoilage. It is seen as dark, almost metallic stains that coalesce to form a darkened fruit tip, particularly in strawberries. This disease is known as grey mold and is caused by a nasty fungus called Botrytis cinerea.
- cinerea has a wide range of hosts which it spoils. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Kiwi fruit
And not surprisingly, these fungi are reported to be pathogenic to more than 200 species of plants!
One of the most well-known fungi, Penicillium, is also linked with the spoilage of some fruits. However, it is to be noted that Penicillium is a genus that includes many different types of species. Some of them are beneficial, while some cause spoilage in plants and fruits.
One such species is Penicillium italicum that causes blue rot of citrus. Another one of them is Penicillium digitatum that causes the devastating rapid green rot of citrus.
Another species called Penicillium expansum causes the blue rot of apples and pears. Moreover, these fungi release toxins called mycotoxin patulin that is lethal to humans in high amounts.
Penicillium species like to attack stored fruits and vegetables (unlike B. cinerea that causes rot in fresh produce).
Rhizopus & Mucor
These species of Zygomycota are some of the most lethal agents to plants and fruits. Their primary target is are the fruits and vegetables that are fresh and stored at temperatures above 20 degrees celsius.
The two culprits of this spoilage are Rhizopus stolonifer and Mucor piriformis. They cause the decay of some of the most common fruits and vegetables. Some of the are:
Rhizopus species are commonly linked with the soft rot of apples and strawberries stored at cold temperatures. Thus, making them a widespread nuisance.
Procedures can be long and hard-to-follow when it comes to gardening and getting rid of infestations. But not with hydrogen peroxide!
Hydrogen peroxide not only eliminates fungi from plants but it gives the user an added benefit of doing everything itself.
All you have to remove fungus on fruit trees using hydrogen peroxide is:
- Before beginning the procedure, make sure to wear gloves
- Take a spray bottle and pour some 3% hydrogen peroxide into it
- Gently pat down the site of infection using a wet cloth before spraying
- Then carefully spray peroxide over the sites that show microbial growth
- You will start to notice “sizzling” sounds, that’s hydrogen peroxide working
- Make sure to wet all of the affected sites with peroxide
- After a few minutes, take a scrub brush and start to wipe away fungus debris manually
- The mold and debris should come off easily after being sprayed with hydrogen peroxide
- After scrubbing all the affected sites away, make sure to clean hydrogen peroxide off using a wet cloth
- Repeat the process if needed
And voila! Your tree is now free from fungal growth. All it takes is a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and 10 minutes of your time to treat this nuisance away.
Benefits of Using Hydrogen Peroxide on Plants
Now that we know how you can get rid of fungi effectively, we can move on to discuss some of the benefits of using an organic chemical such as hydrogen peroxide.
The benefits mentioned here are primarily focused on the development and maturation of plants caused by hydrogen peroxide. However, other obvious benefits such as fungicide action have been discussed in the above segments.
Hydrogen peroxide is naturally produced and released by plants. Unlike humans, who have complicated nervous and muscular systems, plants rely on changes in the internal composition of chemicals to detect changes in the surrounding environment. And hydrogen peroxides serve that purpose.
Scientists have reported how plants constantly produce ROS species in the form of hydrogen peroxide. They are responsible for the influx of calcium ions inside the cell, which elicits a long list of mechanisms.
Replaces Old Cells
Like all cells, plant cells also undergo cellular death to replace old and worn-out cells with new ones. This cellular death is a controlled physiological response called apoptosis.
Hydrogen peroxide in the form of reactive oxygen species (ROS) can stimulate this response in the plant cell by the calcium ion influx. Which then activates cytotoxic enzymes present in the mitochondria and lysosomes.
One amazing way hydrogen peroxide can stimulate growth and development in plants, especially the younger ones, is by inducing the production of anti-ROS species.
This is a paradoxical way of strengthing the plant. By introducing enough concentration of hydrogen peroxide, we can effectively produce the anti-ROS enzymes in the plant to combat this increased response. These enzymes not only decrease hydrogen peroxide concentration but also promotes the development of leaves and stem!
The benefit of using hydrogen peroxide is particularly pronounced because of this effect. As mentioned before, a plant cell contains millions of chemical receptors, receptors for hydrogen peroxide concentrations being one of them.
The increased hydrogen peroxide concentration leads to the calcium influx inside the cell. This has a myriad of cellular responses, and increased immunity is one of them. Therefore, by using hydrogen peroxide, we can get rid of the fungal infection of plants as well as make them strong enough to counter any in the future.
What Concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide is Ideal?
Hydrogen peroxide is available in so many different concentrations and labels that it becomes difficult to choose which one is the best for you. One thing you should know is that the concentration of hydrogen peroxide directly correlates with the task at hand.
However, as a general rule of thumb, 3% hydrogen peroxide should be more than enough for any process that involves living things or usage inside a house. At this concentration, hydrogen peroxide is free from all types of toxic stabilizers and can be used over the skin and plants. It is strong enough to combat microbes and dilute enough to prevent any skin damage or burns.
Moreover, this concentration of hydrogen peroxide is the most commonly available and is the cheapest. So it is a win-win situation in terms of price and usage!
We have used 3% hydrogen peroxide in the above-mentioned procedure. If you have some other concentration of hydrogen peroxide available, make sure to dilute it first to a level of 3% and then begin the procedure.
Using hydrogen peroxide is a relatively safe procedure, which does not have any serious side effects. However, you should be careful as hydrogen peroxide is a chemical nonetheless.
One of the best safety tips is to make sure you are making gloves and other protective gear. This will not only ensure safety from the chemical effects of hydrogen peroxide but also the harmful fungi and their toxins. Thus, use proper equipment and tools while performing the procedure.
This goes without saying but make sure to keep hydrogen peroxide away from your nose and eyes. The skin is a relatively tough surface than eyes and nose. The mucosal linings present there are somewhat sensitive, and hydrogen peroxide can easily irritate them.
Another tip is to make sure that the hydrogen peroxide solution you are using is fresh and not expired. One way of testing this is by draining some hydrogen peroxide down the sink. If it is active, you will immediately start to notice some bubbling sounds.
Fungi are one of the most stubborn and rapid-growing microbes that infest a plant. Therefore, it is important to know and apply safety precautions and treatment plants. But, most of the treatment plant that manages to get rid of fungal infestations are either too strenuous or too expensive.
The use of hydrogen peroxide is the single most effective way of eliminating fungi from your fruit trees and plants. Not only is it amazing in killing plant fungus, but it also saves the plant from any collateral damage during the procedure. And did we mention how cheap it is?
So if you are someone who loves gardening and is concerned about fungal infection, orders a set of hydrogen peroxide bottles today!