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Chlorine bleach and plants

Matthew Novak ez053383 at bullwinkle.ucdavis.edu
Tue Feb 7 13:32:32 EST 1995

(dennis goos) (dennis_goos at mindlink.bc.ca) wrote:
: >From: jheinis at mailer.fsu.edu (Julius L Heinis)
: >Newsgroups: bionet.plants
: >Subject: Re: Chlorine bleach and plants
: >Date: 6 Feb 1995 11:09:12 -0500
: >Organization: Florida State University
: >Lines: 17
: >
: >telem at delphi.com wrote:
: >
: >: For whatever reason, a fairly strong chlorine bleach solution
: >: poured into the pot or around the base of the plant, if it's in
: >: the ground, will revive the plant in most instances. What's
: >: happening - is some sort of plant virus being killed by
: >: the bleach or are nematodes being discouraged or is
: >: chlorine bleach an elixir to some or most plants?
: >
: >My guess is that you are dealing with the soil fungus Phytophthora.
: >Check it out! JULIUS
: >
:  WAIT A MINUTE! Wait a minute here!  Bleach is toxic. Chlorine is toxic.What is happening
: here? Plant SHOULD die with pathogen,hein?
:  Why do the hibiscus survive is the important question, isn't it?
:  Why do they live and thrive after being hit with bleach? By the way,what happens if bleach is
: put in the soil of healthy plants?

: Dennis

It could be either Phytopthora or Pythium or in a rare case both.  There 
are a number of ways to avoid this:
1)  Do not re-use soil unless you sterilize it first in a steam 
sterilizer, or if not available try your oven at 200 degrees F for twelve 
2)If the seed has a hard coat, you can sterilize seed by immersion in 
boiling water for 1-2 minutes or immersion in a 50% household bleach 
solution for 30 minutes.  
3)  Do not overwater your seedlings!  This is your biggest problem.  
Allow the soil to dry down a bit between waterings.  Phytopthora and 
Pythium love constantly saturated conditions (water molds).

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