An aspirin a day may do more than keep the doctor away. Did you know that using aspirin in the garden can have a beneficial effect on many of your plants? Acetylsalicylic acid is the active ingredient in aspirin and is derived from salicylic acid, which is naturally found in willow bark and many other trees. This natural cure-all really can boost the health of your plants. Try aspirin water for plants and see if your yields and overall plant health don’t improve.
Theory Behind Aspirin for Plant Growth
The use of aspirin on plants appears to be beneficial, but the question is: why? Apparently, plants produce minute amounts of salicylic acid on their own when they are stressed. This tiny amount helps plants cope when they are under insect attack, dry, underfed, or maybe even experiencing a disease issue. The component helps boost the plant’s immune system, just like it does for us.
- A diluted solution of aspirin water for plants provides accelerated germination and some resistance to disease and pests.
- Aspirin in vegetable gardens has been shown to increase plant size and yield.
Sound like a miracle? There is real science behind the claims. The United States Department of Agriculture found that salicylic acid produced an enhanced immune response in plants of the nightshade family. The enhanced response helped prepare the plant for microbial or insect attack. The substance also seems to keep cut flowers living longer too. Salicylic acid appears to block the plant’s release of a hormone that impels death after cutting. The cut flowers will die eventually but, usually, you can add some time by the use of aspirin on plants. Gardeners at the University of Rhode Island sprayed a mixture of aspirin water on their vegetable gardens and found that plants grew more quickly and were more fruitful than a control group left untreated. Aspirin in vegetable gardens produced healthier plants than the control group. The team used a rate of three aspirins (250 to 500 milligrams) mixed with 4 gallons (11.5 L.) of water. They sprayed this every three weeks throughout the growing season. The vegetables were grown in raised beds with drip irrigation and compost-rich soil, which probably aided the effects found from using aspirin for plant growth.
How to Use Aspirin in the Garden
There are some potential side effects if aspirin is used improperly. Plants may develop brown spots and appear to have burnt foliage. The best way to protect against this is to spray early in the morning so plant leaves have a chance to dry off before evening. It is also best to spray early to avoid harming any beneficial insects. Bees and other pollinators are most active once sun has touched the plants, so a period of time prior to that sun’s kiss is the best. Watch plants for their response to the treatment. Not all plants may be suitable for the aspirin regimen, but it has been shown that the nightshade family (eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes) do benefit greatly. Best of all, aspirin is fairly inexpensive and won’t harm plants if applied properly. As with all drugs, follow the directions and application rates and you may find yourself with bigger tomatoes and bushels of potatoes.
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.