Using ASA in plant culture

Post by allaKAZAAM on the Hot Pepper forum

Article introduced by JohnM. (on the Orchid Source Forums)

Hydrogen Peroxide and Sulfer are great topical remedies. However, ASA is a natural compound made by plants in times of stress to help them “wake up” and fight disease or insect attack. Forests under threat by insect infestation or disease increase their ASA production and release into the local atmosphere as a means of helping to fight the problem. I have experienced so many times over the years where I lost a plant to rot just like you two….and in some cases, it’s been devastating. However, since I discovered the ASA trick, I’ve not lost a single plant. I have a lot of plants and sometimes a plant becomes really severly damaged by the rot before I even know about it. Even so, I remove the affected tissue and generously spray the entire remaining foliage with the ASA water and the rot stops. For a really bad case, I’ll respray a couple more times over the next week or two. I’ve been VERY impressed with the effectiveness of this remedy. I’ve had multigrowth plants lose growth after growth, until nothing is left but roots and no foliage at all, or just one leaf barely hanging on……then, just in the nick of time, I spray with the ASA water. The rot stops in it’s tracks and in a few weeks, I’ve got new growths coming up….and they do not rot. Don’t dismiss this. It really works! It works FAR better than H2O2 or sulfer or cinnamon. In fact, I don’t even use them any more. I just use the ASA water and the problem is solved. However, as before, I still might move a plant to an area with a little more air movement or a little more light in an attempt to improve the environmental conditions that contributed to the appearance of the rot in the first place.

Technical Info given by Gilda:

I can see why asprin would cause root growth…salicylic acid is a natural rooting agent. The way of getting it naturally is to soak weeping willow stems in water file:///C:%5CUsers%5CMark%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtml1%5C01%5Cclip_image001.gif

Source of Medicine – The use of willow bark dates back thousands of years, to the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) when patients were advised to chew on the bark to reduce fever and inflammation. Willow bark has been used throughout the centuries in China and Europe, and continues to be used today for the treatment of pain (particularly low back pain and osteoarthritis), headache, and inflammatory conditions such as bursitis and tendinitis. The bark of white willow contains salicin, which is a chemical similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). It is thought to be responsible for the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of the herb. In fact, in the 1800s, salicin was used to develop aspirin. White willow appears to be slower than aspirin to bring pain relief, but its effects may last longer. (Ref: University of Maryland Medical Centre, Medical Reference – Complementary Medicine – Willow Bark)Willow Water” is a homebrew plant rooting hormone that is easily made and can be used to increase the strike rate (growth of roots) of cuttings that you’re trying to propagate.

The way that it works can be attributed to two substances that can be found within the Salix (Willow) species, namely, indolebutyric acid (IBA) and Salicylic acid (SA).

Indolebutyric acid (IBA) is a plant hormone that stimulates root growth. It is present in high concentrations in the growing tips of willow branches. By using the actively growing parts of a willow branch, cutting them, and soaking them in water, you can get significant quantities of IBA to leach out into the water.

Salicylic acid (SA) (which is a chemical similar to the headache medicine Aspirin) is a plant hormone which is involved in signalling a plant’s defences, it is involved in the process of “systemic acquired resistance” (SAR) – where an attack on one part of the plant induces a resistance response to pathogens (triggers the plant’s internal defences) in other parts of the plant. It can also trigger a defence response in nearby plants by converting the salicylic acid into a volatile chemical form.

When you make willow water, both salicylic acid and IBA leach into the water, and both have a beneficial effect when used for the propagation of cuttings. One of the biggest threats to newly propagated cuttings is infection by bacteria and fungi. Salicylic acid helps plants to fight off infection, and can thus give cuttings a better chance of survival. Plants, when attacked by infectious agents, often do not produce salicylic acid quickly enough to defend themselves, so providing the acid in water can be particularly beneficial.

Willow water can be made from cuttings of any tree or shrub of the willow family, a group of plants with the scientific name of Salix. The more cuttings that are used and the longer they are soaked in water, the stronger will be the resulting willow water. Recommendations for the exact method of soaking vary. Cold water can be used, and soaking times of four or more weeks are often quoted. Other gardeners use boiling water to steep the willow twigs and soak the mixture for around 24 hours.

How to Make “Willow Water”
Here is the procedure for making willow water:

Collect young first-year twigs and stems of any of willow (Salix spp.) species, these have green or yellow bark. Don’t use the older growth that has brown or gray bark.
Remove all the leaves, these are not used. Don’t waste good green material though, compost the leaves or throw them in the garden as mulch.
Take the twigs and cut them up into short pieces around 1″ (2.5cm) long.
The next step is to add the water. there are several techniques to extract the natural plant rooting hormones:
a) Place the chopped willow twigs in a container and cover with boiling water, just like making tea, and allow the “tea” to stand overnight.

b) Place the chopped willow twigs in a container and cover with tap water (unheated), and let it soak for several days.

When finished, separate the liquid from the twigs by carefully pouring out the liquid, or pouring it through a strainer or sieve. The liquid is now ready to use for rooting cuttings. You can keep the liquid for up to two months if you put it in a jar with a tight fitting lid and keep the liquid in the refrigerator. Remember to label the jar so you remember what it is, and write down the date you brewed it up, and to aid the memory, write down the date that it should be used by, which is two months from the date it was made!
To use, just pour some willow water into a small jar, and place the cuttings in there like flowers in a vase, and leave them there to soak overnight for several hours so that they take up the plant rooting hormone. Then prepare them as you would when propagating any other cuttings.
The second way to use willow water is to use it to water the propagating medium in which you have placed cuttings. Watering your cuttings twice with willow water should be enough to help them root.

Another Article:

Amazing, But True—Plant Defenses Against Diseases and Pests: Aspirin
Paula Szilard

Researchers pursuing ways to protect plants from diseases and insect pests are taking a close look at how plants protect themselves from these invaders naturally. What they are learning is nothing short of astonishing. In the past a whole arsenal of chemicals was developed to kill off insects and disease causing organisms, sometimes at great cost to our environment and human health. In the future, we may simply use chemicals occurring naturally in plants to enhance their resistance to diseases and pests. It’s a major shift in the paradigm.
This works because plants do react with a type of immune response when attacked by pathogens or insects. Instead of producing antibodies like animals, plants generate defensive proteins and other substances that hold the attackers at bay. This plant defensive process is called systemic acquired resistance (SAR) or induced systemic resistance (ISR). The response is called systemic because it affects the entire plant. Scientists have been aware of this phenomenon since the 1930’s, but the chemistry behind it is still only partly understood.
There are a variety of substances or chemicals that induce this response. The one that has received the most attention of late is salicylic acid (more precisely, acetylsalicylic acid), a compound of considerable medicinal value first isolated in 1828 from willow bark and first marketed as Bayer aspirin in 1859. It has been found in over 30 plants and scientists theorize that it may have evolved as a defensive measure, signaling the plant to mobilize its defenses. Now many gardeners are using dilute solutions of aspirin sprayed on leaves or as a soil drench to activate this immune response.
When a plant is attacked, levels of salicylic acid in plant tissues can rise to 180 times normal amounts. These high levels are correlated with high levels of resistance proteins, substances that actually enable the plant to defend itself. These proteins causes changes in the plant that make it difficult for disease organisms to penetrate plant tissues or survive, if they succeed in penetrating. One makes the plant tissue more woody, making it difficult to penetrate. Others function essentially as antibiotics, while still others are enzymes that destroy the cell walls of disease producing fungi. Amazingly, one even breaks apart the ribonucleic acid (RNA) in viruses.
When a bacterium, a fungus or a virus attacks a plant, the plant has a mechanism for immediate action. To contain the pathogen, the plant commands the cells immediately surrounding the infected area to kill themselves. This is called the hypersensitive reaction. The plant’s systemic acquired resistance mechanism begins later, when a signal from the wounded area activates the defensive proteins to destroy the invader.
Experiments thus far show that salicylic acid protects cucumbers, tobacco, tomatoes, potatoes, beans and cowpeas. Master gardeners in Vermont sprayed selected eggplants, tomatoes, basil and bean plants with aspirin water (1.5 aspirins to 2 gallons of water) in their demonstration garden every three weeks. Yields of all sprayed plants were much greater, but the tomatoes did the best! The sprayed plants produced twice as many tomatoes as the unsprayed plants. Salicylic acid protects plants primarily against disease organisms. It is also known to protect against some insects. For instance, bean beetles seem to find bean leaves sprayed with aspirin water less attractive. However, there are much better substances to defend against insects generally. These will be described in the second part of this article.
For now, there is no commercially viable method of combating viruses infecting crops and ornamental plants. Since plants usually contract virus diseases from insects feeding on them, affected plants must be destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease. Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been working to test salicylic on virus diseases of potatoes, and preliminary results indicate it can be an effective control.
So why add additional salicylic acid when the plant already produces it? And why add such large amounts? Most plants apparently don’t produce sufficient amounts, nor do they produce it quickly enough. They also immobilize it and it has to be added at regular intervals.
There is a downside. Gardeners applying aspirin water to their plants need to be aware that a cautious approach is advised, because for many plants protective doses are perilously close to levels that could damage plants. Researchers have observed that certain plants in the cabbage family and some of our common cereal crops can tolerate much higher doses than beans, for instance. Protective levels for most tropical plants grown in the home or greenhouses are unknown, as are phytotoxicity levels! So for now, smaller amounts are the safest approach, and testing on an inconspicuous part of the plant is always a good idea. A general guideline is 3 aspirins dissolved in 4 gallons of water.
Anonymous. “Helping plants defend themselves” Agricultural Research (USDA) December 2003: 8-10
Quarles, W. “Aspirin, composts, talking plants and induced systemic resistance” IPM Practitioner 24 (5/6) May-June 2002: 1-9
Quarles, W. “Protect your garden with aspirin and salicylate” Common Sense Pest Control 12 (2) Spring 1996: 16-19

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