The hydroponics industry is rapidly advancing, and we’re constantly learning of new ways to optimize your system. These advancements lead to increased crop quality, heavier yields, and fewer setbacks along the journey. And today, we’re going to talk about one of the most underutilized tactics in the hydroponics industry: hydrogen peroxide.
While you may be familiar with H2O2 as an essential product for first aid, using hydrogen peroxide in hydroponics can deliver impressive benefits. From pest & disease control to better nutrient uptake, improved oxygenation, and effortless sanitation of your system – there is so much love about using hydrogen peroxide for hydroponics!
In this in-depth guide, you’ll learn how to use hydrogen peroxide in hydroponics.
We’ll discuss dosing recommendations for different use cases, which type of H2O2 is best for your plants, and how often you should top your reservoir off. As you can see, we’ve got a lot to cover today, and we know your time is valuable. So, without any further ado, let’s get into the topic at hand – why should you learn how to use hydrogen peroxide in hydroponics?
Why Learn How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide in Hydroponics?
There are so many benefits that come from using hydrogen peroxide for hydroponics. However, we’re going to summarize them into four different sections:
- Pest & Disease Control
- Root Health & Plant Growth
- Sanitizing & Disinfecting the System
Let’s begin by addressing the anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties of H2O2 – and how they can help you control pests & disease problems in your hydroponic system.
Pest & Disease Prevention & Treatment
One of the most common problems that growers face is pests & diseases. Unfortunately, these problems can quickly spiral out of control if left unchecked – leading to destroyed crops and empty wallets.
However, by using hydrogen peroxide for hydroponics, you can effectively prevent pests & diseases from wreaking havoc on your plants. And should a problem occur, you can rely on natural H2O2 to treat the issue.
That’s because H202 creates an inhospitable environment for these organisms – essentially killing them on contact. It has both anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties to help you get rid of current problems and prevent future issues from arising.
One particular use case for hydrogen peroxide hydroponics is root rot.
This condition occurs when the roots essentially drown. And unfortunately, there are very few proven treatments for this ailment. However, growers have reported great success with hydrogen peroxide!
Another reason to use H2O2 as part of your pest & disease control strategy is its ability to kill mold in your root zone or the nutrient reservoir.
Increase Oxygenation of Nutrient Solution
In addition to killing pests & diseases, hydrogen peroxide for hydroponics can also improve the oxygenation of your nutrient solution. That’s because H202 breaks down into water and oxygen when it comes into contact with organic matter.
And as you probably know, plants need oxygen for respiration – which is a process that they use to convert nutrients into energy. Even the best hydroponic fertilizer will be useless if your plants are unable to uptake it.
So, by increasing the amount of dissolved oxygen in your nutrient solution, you’re essentially giving your plants a boost of energy. This can lead to increased growth rates and larger yields!
This sort of ties back into the last point, too. With ample oxygen in the root zone, problems like root rot will be a worry of the past.
Not only does this extra oxygen help your plants, but it also helps beneficial bacteria in your system.
These bacteria play an important role in the nitrogen cycle – which is responsible for converting ammonia into nitrates. Ammonia is toxic to plants, so this cycle must be working correctly.
And luckily, oxygen helps to speed up the process!
Last but not least, dissolved oxygen also helps to prevent anaerobic conditions in your system. These conditions can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria – which can then lead to problems like root rot or mold growth.
So, by using H2O2 in hydroponics, you’re essentially creating a healthier environment for your plants.
Root Health & Plant Growth
In addition to increasing the amount of dissolved oxygen in your system, hydrogen peroxide for hydroponics can also improve root health & plant growth. That’s because H202 breaks down into water and oxygen when it comes into contact with organic matter. This process is called oxidation – and it’s a key part of how hydrogen peroxide works in hydroponic systems.
You see, when H202 breaks down, it releases free radicals.
These free radicals are incredibly reactive and they help to break down the cell walls of bacteria & fungi. This essentially kills these organisms on contact – which is why hydrogen peroxide is so effective at preventing & treating pests & diseases.
But that’s not all! Free radicals also help to stimulate root growth. They do this by breaking down the plant’s cells – which signals the plant to produce more cells to replace the ones that were broken down. So, not only does H202 kill harmful bacteria & fungi, but it also helps to promote root growth.
And as you probably know, healthy roots are essential for strong & healthy plants. That’s because the roots are responsible for taking up water & nutrients from the soil – which is then transported to the rest of the plant. So, if your roots are unhealthy, your plants will be unhealthy. But luckily, hydrogen peroxide can help!
System Cleaning & Maintenance
In addition to increasing oxygenation and improving root health, hydrogen peroxide for hydroponics can also be used for system cleaning & maintenance.
That’s because H202 is a powerful oxidizer – meaning that it breaks down organic matter on contact. This makes it perfect for cleaning dirty reservoirs or clogged emitters. We’ll explain how to use it for this purpose later on. First – let’s address any potential risks or concerns of using hydrogen peroxide for hydroponics systems.
Risks & Concerns of Using H2O2 in Hydroponics
While hydrogen peroxide is generally safe to use in hydroponic systems, there are a few risks & concerns that you should be aware of.
First of all, H202 is a powerful chemical – and it can potentially damage your plants if used incorrectly. That’s why it’s important to always follow the instructions on the label – and to start with lower concentrations if you’re unsure. We’ll talk about diluting and dosing your H2O2 later on – as this is a key step in how to use hydrogen peroxide in hydroponics systems.
And, hydrogen peroxide can be harmful if ingested. So, it’s important to keep it out of reach of children & pets. This shouldn’t be an issue for commercial cultivars, buy home growers should be very careful about how they store and use their H2O2. We also encourage you to always wear gloves when handling H2O2 due to its corrosive properties.
How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide in Hydroponics: Everything Growers Need to Know
Ready to learn how to use hydrogen peroxide in hydroponics? The recommendations will vary based on the specific use case you have in mind. For example, dosing & frequency requirements for routine system maintenance will be different from recommendations for a grower who wants to combat root rot. With all that said, a good starting point is choosing your actual hydrogen peroxide product.
What Kind of Hydrogen Peroxide for Hydroponics is Best?
We’ve touched on this a bit throughout – but the specific type of H2O2 you choose is very important. The most common concentrations you’ll find are 3%, 5%, 8%, and more food-grade concentrations – which can get up to as high as 35%. In general, you want to choose a product that is as pure as possible – with a high concentration of H202. That way, you’re not wasting your money paying for an ultra-diluted solution.
A 30% solution is a good place to start – but you may need to go higher or lower depending on your specific needs.
When it comes to brands, we recommend choosing something that is specifically designed for use in hydroponics systems. This will ensure that you’re getting a high-quality product that won’t harm your plants.
How Much Hydrogen Peroxide in Hydroponics?
The amount of hydrogen peroxide you use will vary based on the application. However, the rule of thumb is to shoot for 3 teaspoons or 3mL for every gallon of water in your reservoir when using a highly-concentrated H2O2 solution.
However, you should dial this dosage up or down over time depending on the results you’re seeing in your crop. If you’re not seeing the thick, robust root system you want after a few weeks of feeding at this ratio – consider adding a bit more. Similarly, if you’re experiencing mold and mildew buildup in your hydroponic system, it may be worth starting with a higher concentration and dialing back on it as the problem becomes rectified.
This is just another one of those instances where you – as a grower – will have to find the sweet spot. Across the various hydroponic systems, plant types, and use cases, there may be slight intricacies in the ideal ratio.
And, as you’re about to discover, how much hydrogen peroxide in hydroponics isn’t the only consideration. You should also consider the frequency at which you add H2O2 to the reservoir.
How Often to Add Hydrogen Peroxide in Hydroponics?
This will also vary based on the application. For example, if you’re using hydrogen peroxide for routine system maintenance – like cleaning & disinfecting – you may only need to add it once every week or two. However, if you’re using hydrogen peroxide to combat root rot – you may need to add it every day or two until the problem is resolved.
For general plant care and maintenance, we recommend a starting point of every 3-5 days. Your plants will tell you whether you should increase or decrease this frequency after a few weeks – watch for the telltale signs of under/overfeeding!
Tips for Using Hydrogen Peroxide for Hydroponics (Specific Use Cases)
Before we wrap up this guide, we want to leave you with a few tips for specific use cases.
When using hydrogen peroxide to sterilize your system after a grow cycle, add your H2O2 to the reservoir at that 3mL/gallon ratio. Turn on the hydroponic water pump and/or air pump and let the solution circulate through the lines, emitters, and growth modules.
After 10-15 minutes, turn everything off and drain the system. Then, grab a cloth and wipe down the system. You can then run pure water through the system and get into your next grow cycle or break the system down for storage.
One final tip here is that you can also use H2O2 for hydroponics medium cleansing. Whether you’re using hydroponic clay pebbles or hydroponic coco coir, you want to get the most out of your media. So, reuse it for a few grow cycles in a row by drenching it in an H2O2/water mixture to remove any fungi or other toxins!
Reservoir Oxygenation & Nutrient Uptake:
When adding hydrogen peroxide to your reservoir for the oxygenation & nutrient uptake properties it has to offer, you can mix the 3mL/gallon ratio right in with your nutrients. Just add it to the reservoir at the time of feeding.
This will ensure it gets properly mixed up and distributed within the system. And, it ensures those nutrients you’re feeding actually make it to the plant’s cells!
Curing Root Rot:
When attempting to cure root rot with hydrogen peroxide, you can choose a more passive or active approach. If you really want to increase the likelihood of saving a plant, remove it from the system and snip off the rotten, sad-looking root mass. Then, take your 3mL/gallon ratio of H2O2 and submerge the root mass that is left.
Drenching them in this manner is your best bet at rectifying the problem. The more passive approach entails just circulating H2O2 throughout your system. This is still a good idea, but we encourage you to take the active approach too.
Increasing Seed Germination:
When attempting to increase hydroponic seed germination, soak your seeds in diluted H2O2. This is an instance where a lower concentration of 3-8% H2O2 may make more sense. This is because seeds are delicate.
This concentration should be plenty to break down the seed’s coating and allow oxygen to push the taproot through the seed – increasing germination rates dramatically than when soaking with water alone.
Final Thoughts on How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Hydroponics Systems
As you can see, using hydrogen peroxide for hydroponics has tremendous benefits – but you have to be careful in the dosing, frequency, and manner in which you use it. Fortunately, we’ve covered just about everything you need to know about hydrogen peroxide hydroponics.
At this point, there is only one thing left to do – start shopping for H2O2 and optimize your hydroponics system with this powerful, natural, and underutilized gardening essential!