The Orchid Forum, for the UK and Europe (previously known as The UK Orchid Forum) • View topic - Hydrogen peroxide in terraria
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:53 pm 
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I grow a few of my orchids in terraria alongside Nepenthes species and a few other carnivorous plants. One of my terraria has had some large-scale mould problems - slimy mouldy growth all over the pots and base. The carnivorous plants really don't want chemicals so I was looking for something that would leave no chemical residue to deal with it.

The base of the terrarium is covered in "hortag" - expanded clay balls. Today I rinsed and cleaned all the clay balls and soaked them in a rather weak solution of hydrogen peroxide to try and kill any mould spores, then drained them and returned them to the tank. I also washed down the inside of the tank with a ~5% solution of H2O2. Plus repotting some of the plants and cleaning their pots.

What I was really wondering is whether there is any beneficial or harmful effect of H2O2 used in terraria for plants. It should kill off decaying matter and prompt healthy root growth as well as killing pathogens. I ask, as I was considering whether a 6-monthly spray-down of the tank contents with some kind of dilution of H2O2 could be beneficial. And I am wondering what actually watering the plants with it would do to help cleanse the composts, roots and pots in general.

Any ideas or experience?

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:42 pm 
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Hydrogen peroxide will kill (depending on strength) any organic matter it comes into contact with by bleaching it. The plus side is it wont leave anything toxic around as it will decompose to water.

So its great for disinfecting and decomposes fairly quickly leaving nothing harmfull lying around, but not so good at strength on living tissue.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:57 am 
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Rob, several years back I read various posts on different forums regarding the use of H2O2 as a general purpose 'cure-all' and tonic. "water your plants with it to add oxygen to the roots" said one article and another thought it was great for cleaning off seedlings to kill any bacteria etc.

As I had just de-flasked some Tolumnia (now oncidium) seedlings I did give them a preventative spray and.............they all turned white (bleached) and died :roll:

I would never use it on a plant unless it was in intensive care and there was no other course of action available.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:03 am 
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I guess the concentration is important though - I can't find much in the way of guidance on what concentration would kill spores but not harm living plant tissue.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:14 pm 
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It could be that spores are harder to kill than living plant tissue, spores are designed to be tough. Just a guess though.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:30 pm 
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Rob-Rah wrote:
I guess the concentration is important though - I can't find much in the way of guidance on what concentration would kill spores but not harm living plant tissue.


Well I used 3% H2O2 which is what I use to clean up my glove box, seeds and equipment.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:34 pm 
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I have just killed some seedlings at 3% so be careful, personally I wouldn't use it directly on plant material. Or you could try it on a sacrificial plant :-( and see how far you could push it.
Obviously we know it kills seedlings at 3%, myself and Terry have proved that. Maybe at 1% but then is that strong enough to kill any nasties.

I think you are better off periodically removing the plants and giving your terrariam a deep clean.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:37 pm 
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Citrox may be good for a regular cleaning solution? I use it in my water storage drum to keep it sweet. I have never tried it directly on orchids so it would be wise to do a test spot on a plant.
Citrox is used to clean and disinfect greenhouses, staging, tools, pots, seed trays, capillary matting, bird tablesand sand beds. Citrox is safe, odourless, powerful disinfectant based on extracts of citrus fruit, effective against a wide range of bacterial & fungal diseases.

As it does not harm plant material it is not necessary to remove plants from the greenhouse when using. It can also be used to disinfect the water used to wash cuttings, bulbs, corms etc. When used as directed, Citrox should not harm insect predators used for biological control.

Pots, trays and small tools should be completely immersed in a dilute solution for at least 10 minutes. Capillary matting and sand beds should be thoroughly drenched with the dilute solution once a month.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:44 pm 
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It's more to do with the proximity to carnivorous plants, which want pure water, no salts at all. I'd not risk something like that on them.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:20 am 
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Probably not worth the risk Rob. I'm not sure what your growing but some CP's are a lot more choosy than orchids. I've allways just emptied out the terrarium and given it a good wash with water, sponge and elbow grease. Even a small amount of peroxide could case damage to sensitive roots.


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