Will Hydrogen Peroxide Harm Seeds?Faizan Khan
Gardening is a soothing hobby, which is booming worldwide in recent years. You can improve self-sufficiency and grow your own kitchen garden. According to a 2022 study, the Covid pandemic instilled a love for gardening in 18.3 million people.
It is very satisfying to watch life sprout from a tiny seed you nurtured from scratch. In these times of worldwide inflation, it is quite economical to grow your own fruits and vegetables. You can explore seed-starting eco pots if you are a beginner just starting out on your gardening journey.
Gardening is pretty simple but you require adequate environmental conditions according to the seed type. These include proper heat and lighting, the right container and soil type, and adequate water and sunlight.
During the growing phase, it is essential that you take the utmost care for maximum yield. One organic chemical used in the horticulture industry that can benefit your seeds immensely is hydrogen peroxide.
So, read on and discover if hydrogen peroxide will harm seeds, or if will it help you grow them better!
What Does Hydrogen Peroxide do to Seeds?
Using hydrogen peroxide is controversial in terms of whether it is beneficial or harmful to seeds. Yet, most studies have demonstrated that seeds show a significant increase in harvest after the exogenous application of hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide penetrates the seed layers and breaks down the hard outer covering of the seed. This kills any microbes present. It also encourages better oxygen absorption by the seed. This will nourish them and aid in sprouting more effectively, as it increases germination speed.
Will Hydrogen Peroxide Harm Seeds?
Generally, hydrogen peroxide is an ideal catalyst for growing seeds. However, you have to ensure to use a lower concentration. Higher strengths increase the acidity level which affects the seeds. This makes them grow slower.
Any soil with higher acid content will have lower availability of plant nutrients, such as phosphorus and molybdenum. Instead, it increases the availability of some elements at toxic levels such as manganese and aluminum.
When you soak your seeds in hydrogen peroxide solution which has been properly diluted, this outer seed coat softens. This allows the seed to absorb more oxygen. Moreover, it boosts the healing process and effectively eliminates pathogens and any fungal growth on the skin.
Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent antiseptic agent. Harmful bacteria are known to thrive in water that has a low oxygen content. So by using hydrogen peroxide, you are boosting the oxygen level as well as getting right of the pathogens.
Another essential factor affecting seed growth is soil temperature. When it is extremely low or excessively high, the seed grows slowly or worse, germination is prevented. Even in typical nature, not all your seeds sprout at the same time or grow at the same rate due to natural constant temperature fluctuations.
Does Hydrogen Peroxide Affect Seed Germination?
Did you know that you can increase the germination speed of seeds? You can do so by placing them in a properly diluted hydrogen peroxide solution.
The chemical structure is similar to water molecules. This makes hydrogen peroxide a very safe chemical that you can use in your garden to keep microbes at bay.
The Plant Signaling & Behaviour journal conducted research that investigate the effects of hydrogen peroxide on seed germination. It was concluded that hydrogen peroxide played the role of a signaling molecule during the initial seed germination phase.
This induced protein formation helps in plant growth, cellular signaling, and cell cycle control.
How Long Can You Soak Seeds in Hydrogen Peroxide?
You can soak your seeds in hydrogen peroxide to add an extra oxygen molecule to their roots to increase germination and growth speed.
The time varies, depending on the strength of hydrogen peroxide. The general rule of thumb is that you should use a concentration of 1-3% hydrogen peroxide to soak your seeds between 5 minutes to 48 hours.
The most common practice, however, is to soak your seeds in a solution of diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide for about 30 minutes. Afterward, you will need to rinse them a few times with clean water. Then, you can plant them as usual.
Can I Use Hydrogen Peroxide on Seedlings?
Hydrogen peroxide is safe and beneficial to use for seeds but you may be wondering if it is fine for seedlings. You can dilute hydrogen peroxide and spray the mixture on planted seedlings.
This will break down the hydrogen peroxide in the soil and give off an extra oxygen molecule. In turn, the seedling will grow new, healthy roots.
As long as you use the hydrogen peroxide solution in moderation and in diluted form, your seedlings will thrive as the chemical can also boost the root’s ability to absorb nutrients from the soil. This treatment will also kill unwanted bacteria and pathogens as well as control fungal invasions.
Can You Spray Hydrogen Peroxide on the Seeds?
Yes, you can use the 3% hydrogen peroxide, which is a food-grade solution made in pure distilled water. Doing so as a pre-treatment will make them germinate faster. It does this by penetrating the top layer of the seed coat and plumping up the embryos inside.
What You Need
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
How to Use
Mix 1 part of hydrogen peroxide with 6 parts of water. For optimal results, it is better that you use water which is at room temperature. This natural chemical is a lot better than a commercial surfactant which will do exactly the same job, at a fraction of the price of a fancy packaged chemical.
Did you know that normally seeds are coated in brightly dyed dust, mist, or clay? The key goal of this practice is so that the brightly colored seeds can warn any predators that the seed is treated with pesticides.
How Do You Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Seeds?
By treating seeds with hydrogen peroxide overnight, you can boost the health and growth quality of your seed as it sprouts. You need to ensure that all the seed is in contact with the hydrogen peroxide solution.
The strength has to be sufficiently diluted as you do not want your seeds to be damaged before you even plant them.
#1 Using Hydrogen Peroxide to Soak Seeds
You can soak your seeds in hydrogen peroxide but it is essential that you rinse them well. After planting the seeds, you have to ensure that you are giving adequate water.
Your goal is to keep the soil moist but wet. If you come across mold, it is a sign that your growing medium is too wet.
Other factors like temperature and sunlight come into play as well so you might need to experiment with some trial and error before fixing a routine. There are thousands of seed varieties you can grow at home. Try to select a few varieties of easy-to-grow plants to avoid getting yourself overwhelmed.
What You Need
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
How to Use
Start off by mixing 30 ml of hydrogen peroxide in every two cups of water. This makes it a ratio of 1:8. You can soak the seeds for half an hour. Experts suggest that you soak the seeds and leave it in the solution overnight.
Do not exceed 48 hours as it will change the seed’s protein structure and negatively impact its growth. When done correctly, the seed coat softens and allows itself to absorb more oxygen. It will also eliminate bacterial pathogens such as tobacco mosaic virus from the seed surfaces.
#2 Using Hydrogen Peroxide Drops On Sowed Seeds
Hydrogen peroxide is quite similar to water in its chemical structure, making it one of the safest chemicals you can put on your sowed seeds to combat root rot.
A study published in 2016 investigated the effects of hydroxide peroxide effects on the health and quality of the seeds.
The results showed that six fungal specials were isolated from untreated seeds. On the other hand, significantly higher shoot lengths were obtained from the seedlings raised from the hydrogen peroxide-treated seeds.
What You Need
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
How to Use
To give your sowed seeds an extra boost of oxygen and keep pests at bay, you need to add 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide to a cup of water. Mix well and store this solution in a spray water bottle.
You can regularly mist your sowed seeds. Ensure to keep the soil moist but not wet as it may become a breeding ground for fungal infections.
Hydrogen peroxide is quite a staple in horticulture, when the molecule breaks down, the extra oxygen separates from water and helps plants to germinate more successfully by making them absorb more oxygen.
What Happens if You Use Too Much Hydrogen Peroxide on Seeds?
Just like anything related to hydrogen peroxide, it really matters what strength of the solution you are using and in which quantities. The right amount will immensely benefit your seeds but too much can harm or even kill them.
Overexposure of seeds to hydrogen peroxide is likely to be disastrous as it may lead to local tissue damage. The ideal recommended time is to spray your seeds with hydrogen peroxide solution every week.
How Does Hydrogen Peroxide Help With Seed Germination?
A seed germinates under optimal environmental conditions such as water, moisture, temperature, air, and light. When seeds absorb water, they expand in size.
The enzymes in the seed are hydrated and hence they are activated. The ultimate result is that the seed increases its metabolic activities in order to give off enough energy during the growing phase.
This natural process occurs on its own but you can use hydrogen peroxide as an additional catalyst to bump up the reaction time.
Hydrogen peroxide can help with seed germination as it effectively supports the growth of healthy and strong plants, in a relatively shorter period of time.
As discussed above, the only difference between hydrogen peroxide and water is the extra oxygen atom. So when the seed absorbs water, it undergoes a series of mechanisms of action before germination.
The seed coat softens in a similar fashion when exposed to hydrogen peroxide. This makes the seeds absorb extra oxygen and hence increases the seed’s germination speed.
Another study evaluated similar research and found that levels of hydrogen peroxide in seed germination can be modulated during the pre-sowing seed conditions. Moreover, the outcome also highly matters on the age of the seeds at the time.
Why Hydrogen Peroxide Is Good for Seeds?
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural, organic chemical that is safer than commercial pesticides. It is more budget-friendly and does not break down into any harmful by-products. Moreover, it is a multipurpose disinfectant which means that you can use it for numerous household purposes for the whole family, including pets.
Hydrogen peroxide is widely celebrated for its antiseptic properties. It is available in both liquid and gas forms. You can pick any to use as a disinfectant, sterilizer, or preservation uses. Compared to other pesticides or microbicides, hydrogen peroxide is flexible in use with a higher safety index.
It has a potent and broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. You can use it to disinfect your gardening tools, clean surfaces, or even bleach your workplace for an aesthetic look.
Hydrogen peroxide is unstable and can easily decompose when exposed to heat or sunlight. Hydrogen peroxide itself is not flammable but it is a robust oxidizing agent. Due to the explosion risk, that is why pure hydrogen peroxide is usually in a water solution.
This makes it an excellent fertilizer to boost plant growth. Hydrogen peroxide aids in promoting healthy root growth due to the presence of the extra oxygen molecule.
Hydrogen peroxide readily reacts with just about anything. All it needs is some sunlight or a bit of heat and it will quickly disintegrate into water and hydrogen. There are no harmful byproducts released.
If placed in water, it increases the oxygen content. The free oxygen radicals can overcome and decompose pollutants, eventually leaving only water. The average degradation half-life for hydrogen peroxide is about 24 hours.
What Hydrogen Peroxide Concentration Is Ideal for Seeds?
Depending on the intended use, hydrogen peroxide is available in different strengths. The lowest is 1% to use as a very mild or undiluted form. The 3% concentration is the most common for everyday purposes. Most gardeners use diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide to soak, wash, and germinate their seeds.
Other available hydrogen peroxide concentrations are 6-10% which is more commonly used in the beauty industry as an ingredient for cosmetic products. The 35% is called food-grade but should never be consumed. 90% hydrogen peroxide is primarily for industrial use. The super high strength makes it unsafe for home use.
Hydrogen Peroxide on Seeds — Precautions
Despite being an extremely safe organic chemical, there are still some safety precautions you need to undertake while handling hydrogen peroxide.
You should ensure that you never add undiluted hydrogen peroxide to your seed or seedlings. Always mix in a larger part of the water first. Get your hands on fresh distilled water for optimal results. The recommended amount is 3% hydrogen peroxide in hydroponics.
You can also select the 1% strength, but avoid going for a higher concentration. When starting off, you can even add a little less than the mentioned quantity so that your seeds get adapted to the chemical.
Make small batches of solutions in your spray bottle. As hydrogen peroxide may lose its efficacy if left out for too long.
Do not spray your seedlings too much as they should be merely moist and not wet. Otherwise, this may become a breeding ground for mold.
When using hydrogen peroxide, make sure you have your safety gear on such as masks, gloves, and safety goggles. Avoid letting hydrogen peroxide get on your skin directly as it may cause irritation to your nose, skin, throat, and eyes. It can be highly corrosive.
At higher strengths, hydrogen peroxide has the potential to burn the skin and even turn your fingertips white. In case it gets on any part of your body, ensures to rinse properly. If needed, do not hesitate to visit your nearest health practitioner immediately.
Make sure to store it in a dry, cool place in an air-tight dark container, away from sunlight. This will make it last longer as it will be less likely to decompose. Keep it out of reach of children and pets.
The Bottom Line
There are some clear advantages of using hydrogen peroxide for making your seeds and seedlings thrive. But you should be wary and extra cautious regarding the storage and handling of this product.
Hydrogen peroxide is unlike harsh acids, alcohols, chlorine, or any other harmful product. It is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and even biodegrades completely. You can use it to germinate your seeds better, and ultimately, grow better healthier plants.
This makes it a great product for your house, whole family, pets, and your plants.
So, order your set today!