Each month V.D. Kaviraj will answer selected questions about plants and plant problems. Kaviraj is one of the foremost pioneers of Agro-homeopathy and author of the book, Homeopathy for Farm and Garden.
Send your questions with sufficient detail and pictures when possible (JPG or GIF format) to [email protected] with the subject “Plant Doctor”.
Note: When I refer to treating plants with homeopathic remedies, this is the standard dosing procedure:
Put 20 drops of a 6X potency in a litre of water. Succuss* the bottle 50 times. Put this litre in the watering can, fill it up with 19 litres of tap water and stir. If the watering can is smaller, the amount of remedy put in must be proportionally smaller. Thus a 10 litre can needs only ½ litre and just 10 drops of the remedy. Apply the contents of the watering can to the roots of the plants to be treated.
*Sucussion : Shake vigorously with powerful downward strokes on a flexible but firm surface.
With the winter months some areas will be seeing terribly frostbit plants.
My tropical banana tree’s (I have 20-26 full grown tree’s) suffer terribly. Can homeopathy help?
First of all, your bananas can be protected by piling straw around the base, which will protect against frost through isolation. Make sure you extend it far enough to cover the superficial roots – 30-50 cm circumference and 20-30 cm thick should be enough, since in California the frost is not severe, at least not in my memory – unless you live in the north of the State. Also, you can wrap it around the trunk and tie it up with a sack wrapped around it. If the sack (preferably jute) gets thoroughly wet, it should be replaced, because it will freeze and can cause damage in its own right. The layer of straw should be about 10cm thick.
However, that said, Aconite is a remedy you can use prophylactically, when frost threatens or is present. A single dose will protect it for about one week, as Aconite has but a short action. Thus if the frost lasts longer, you will have to repeat it after about one week. For the negative effects of frostbite you can also use Aconite.
Alternatively, when frost has drawn blisters, Apis is a remedy to consider, because the swelling of trunk, branches or leaves will resemble the effects of that remedy.
Dear Plant Doctor,
Several of my houseplants develop mold on the surface of the soil. It seems impossible to get rid of. The problem is not apparent when I put them outdoors over the summer (we live in Vermont), but when I bring them into the house, they start to grow the mold. (white, fuzzy). In particular, a volcanoe plant (growing on a piece of volcanic rock) is really bad. The white mold has started to get yellow, pink, green fruiting spores all over the rock. Assuming one can’t use bleach, is there anything I can do? I also assume the plants are releasing molds into the house air, and besides being bad for breathing, it will spread to ALL my plants. It is currently confined to about 4 of them.
Thank you! – Lindsay Putnam
Mould on the soil is quite normal. As long as the plants grow vigorously, there is little to worry about. Many soil fungi live in symbiosis with plants and they are of mutual benefit. Some are there all year, while several are specific to the summer, and others prefer the winter. Since I have no pictures to go by, I cannot really say if they are harmful to the plants – your question does not touch upon that subject. Your worries about them going around the house are only relevant to the question of allergic reactions of the household members, be they people, animals or plants.
Dear Dr. Kaviraj,
I am reading your book “Homeopathy for Farm and Garden”. You recommend the 6x potency for all the remedies. Could I use another potency if I don’t have the 6x? Also what precaution should I take when applying homeopathic remedies to plants. If I use the method of spraying the leaves, could I be exposed to the remedy?
You can use any potency, as records from Brazilian Universities have shown. They even used 1M and higher. The only precaution not to repeat it. The best way is always to water it on the roots. A spray on the leaves is also effective, but you could be exposed to the remedy when strong winds are present and the spray is fine enough to be blown in your face.
After a severe storm several of my trees suffered loss of bark and torn limbs from both the wind and flying debris. Are there remedies to help them deal with these trauma?
Thank you – Ann Chapelle
Arnica or Calendula can be used to give the trees some vigour back. Arnica should be watered on the roots and Calendula sprayed on the open wounds. This helps after transplants or pruning and after herbicide damage. Do not use Arnica on open wounds. Plants both transplanted and pruned cannot be given Arnica. These should be treated with Calendula . Below is more detail about the use of Arnica and Calendula.
Grows in the Alps and other mountains.
Arnica is a first aid remedy par excellence; trauma in all forms and varieties; pests, pruning, transplants and mechanical injury will be met by Arnica as by no other remedy. Arnica may not be sprayed onto open wounds as it will cause inflammation and suppuration. Arnica has been used extensively for the indications with good results.
Weeping wounds after pruning. Water Arnica on the roots. Rotting grafts, tumours on old wounds, especially on large trees where large limbs leave big scars. Scar tissue soft and spongy with rotting pulp underneath. Swellings hot, hard, shiny, red, bluish or yellow spots. Yellow spots caused by bruises or disease, eruption of small raised spots as in yellow rust.
Transplants, pruning, storm or mechanical damage. Asparagus beetle, nematodes.
Marigolds are a wonder-drug of the companion plant world, invoking the saying “plant them everywhere in your garden”. French marigolds produce a pesticidal chemical from their roots, so strong it lasts years after they are gone. Mexican marigolds do the same, but are so strong they will inhibit the growth of some more tender herbs. Therefore they are useful in weed suppression and the remedy can be used for that too.
It helps in the production of pheromones, fruiting of other plants. When one is sick, Calendula will often restore health. She must be compared to Chamomilla, which has the same capacity. There are a few other companion plants that are considered wonder drugs for the plant world. They should be carefully studied in comparison. Now we shall turn to the aspects for which it has been listed here.
What Arnica is to trauma, Calendula is to open wounds. Where Arnica is of little or no use, or even dangerous to plants, Calendula comes to the rescue. It belongs in the same order of Compositae as Arnica. Lacerated and ulcerating wounds such as those found on roots that have been ripped or cut during transplants. Calendula will be of much help here, as confirmed in the field tests.
Calendula in suspension or in tincture is used topically to treat acne, reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding and soothing irritated tissue.
Calendula is antiseptic and restores vitality to the injured parts. It stops the entry of external opportunistic infections, as well as the proliferation of internal dormant viruses, but only in wounded plants. Nematodes cause these types of wounds. Calendula proved to be effective.
Arnica irritates, whilst Calendula soothes. Suitable for all cases where skin or bark is broken. Flowers of marigolds close when dark clouds pass overhead, therefore affected plants are usually worse in cloudy weather and during cold winter nights, which may be the cause of ulceration of pruning wounds or broken roots.
Is there a homeopathic way to deal with Tobacco Mosaic Virus in tomatoes?
Thank you – William Kerkhof
Here is a description of the virus and some remedies that can be used.
Mosaic – Brassicaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Leguminosae, Solanaceae
Mosaic is a disease caused by a virus. Mosaic can infect beans, peas, corn, cucumbers, melons, peppers and tomatoes. Infected plants are generally stunted. The leaves of affected plants will have light and dark green areas. This mottled appearance is due to the virus attacking the chlorophyll in the leaves. This will inhibit the plant from creating its own food and cause other disastrous side effects, including distortion of the leaves and fruit.
Crop rotation is a good preventative measure. Purchasing disease free, certified seed and plants is also a plus. In addition, control aphids, which may carry the virus. One common mosaic is tobacco mosaic, which affects tomato plants. The virus is spread by gardeners who smoke, is the claim. Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling tomato plants if you smoke.
Several different viruses cause mosaic symptoms on potatoes and other related plants. These are referred to as potato virus X, A and Y. Symptoms vary from a light mottling of yellow and green on the leaves, to yellow spots or crinkling of leaf tissue. Sometimes veins may blacken and plants die early.
Cruciferous vegetables, annual flowers and weeds like shepherds purse, field cress, wild turnip, mustard and charlock are most affected by mosaic virus. The latter may be eradicated by Nat. sal., Acidum salicylicum. or Lac.. preparations.
C6H4(OH)COOH. Artificially prepared from phenol.
Potato virus. Tobacco mosaic virus, Mosaic virus, blue mould anthracnose, downy mildew, angular leaf spot, Pseudomonas infections.
Salicylic acid forms an important part of the immune system of plants. Without it, the plant can do little to fight off diseases or pests. When plants are invaded by a pathogen, a number of responses may be induced in the area surrounding the infection. These responses include rapid cell death, to prevent the spread of the disease, while healthy cell walls are strengthened and antimicrobial agents are released. The unaffected parts develop more resistance to further infections by viral, bacterial or fungal pathogens.
This mode of resistance is termed systemic acquired resistance. These mechanisms have been recognised since the early part of this century, but little is known about the how of this response. There must evidently be some messenger substance that provokes the healthy cells to action. Salicylic acid has been implicated as a component (Vernooy et. al. 1994 “The Plant Cell”).
Salicylic acid is not the translocated signal, but is required in signal transduction. In a similar manner as a vaccination works in humans, there are now voices that demand “plant vaccination”. However, if it is not broken don’t fix it, as the saying goes. In an infected leaf, salicylic acid accumulates at the site of infection. When salicylic acid is not available to plants, the systemic acquired resistance does not work. In addition, when Sal. Ac. has been given, it shows increased resistance build-up. Most research has concentrated on tobacco mosaic virus.
Salicylate of sodium. NaC7H5O3. Trituration/ solution.
Tobacco mosaic virus, blue mould, anthracnose, downy mildew, angular leaf spot, potato virus, alfalfa virus, barley yellow dwarf virus. Septoria blotch, tan spot, ring spot, eye spot, scald. Fusarium spp. Anthracnose.
Salicylic acid is found in nature in the leaves and bark of willows, in oil of wintergreen and is synthetically obtained from carbolic acid. The latest findings have revealed that aspirin given to plants when sick greatly speed recovery. As a food preservative, it has found great employ. Prolonged use in humans causes Menieres disease (auditory nerve vertigo), gastric disturbances, delirium, septicaemia and necrosis of the tibia. These symptoms in humans can point us to some indications for its use in plants. Roots may be covered with white or red patches. Many pustules, pale or brown on the leaves. Septoria blotch, tan spot, ring spot, eye spot, scald and all other blotches and mosaic viruses may improve under Acidum salicylicum regardless of plant species.
The natrum component refers to salination problems or deficiencies in some salts in the plant. All natrum-compound salts will be affected in plants. Plants defective in lime salts, which often wilt easily, do not hold upright well. The sap is not of normal consistency, it looks and feels as though it is decaying. There is capillary congestion, imbalance in nutrient uptake. Plants become infected and die.
Hydroponic testing has been underway since 1992 by Malany, Klessig, Pierpoint and Vernooy et al. Their results show only crop resistance, through “inoculation”. They do not signify cures. From these results, inference may be drawn as to cures affected. Acidum salicylicum remedy, being homoeopathic, is different from the crude form used during the tests and will prove to be less aggressive and thus may take longer to produce results in provings. Plants have their own immune system. Acidum salicylicum affects other plant processes also. Foliar application has shown to speed up and increase flowering, adventitious root initiation and fruit yield. It increases absorption of Kali and reduces germination of lettuce seed.
Greetings Kaviraj Sir,
I have 200 rose bushes in my garden. They’re doing well and give healthy flowers. I use cow dung, a little bit of micro nutrients and rose mix . Roses need a lot of fertilizer and I wondered if homeopathic medicines can be used as fertilizers. My dad is a great fan of homeopathy and I have many remedies. I will love to hear from you.
Yes, it is quite possible to use homoeopathic remedies as fertiliser. Actually, everything is already in the soil from the cow dung, including micronutrients. Here is some information about the importance of Phosphorus in the soil.
During the flowering period – which is quite long with roses – you can give Phosphorus.
A component of the compound within plants which supply the energy to grow and maintain the plant. Part of cell membranes, the structures that selectively keep out unneeded compounds and allow in those compounds which are needed for the plant cells to function correctly. A part of DNA and its relatives. Needed for cell division and for reproduction. Phosphorus has a great influence on all these processes in each and every species of plant.
Plant nutrients which can move from places where they are stored to places where they are needed are called plant mobile. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are always plant mobile nutrients. Deficiencies are noticeable first on older tissue. Plant immobile element deficiencies are noticeable first on younger tissue. Calcium and Boron are always plant immobile nutrients. Sulphur, chloride, copper, zinc, manganese, iron and molybdenum are intermediate in plant mobility. Under certain circumstances the intermediate elements are mobile. Mobility in intermediate elements may be linked to the breakdown under low nitrogen conditions of amino acids and proteins in older parts of the plant, and the mobility of these organic compounds to younger parts of the plant in the phloem stream. Under good nitrogen availability, these elements are mostly immobile.
Mobility is therefore visible in some cases from the symptoms presented by the plants and enables to distinguish between nutrient deficiencies and diseases more easily. Mobile nutrients are situated in the young leaves awhile the immobile nutrients are situated in the old leaves. From the appearance of symptoms it is possible to determine many characteristics of the problem and it is moreover striking that many so-called diseases are factually the result of nutrient deficiencies.
Moreover, there is evidence that other soil flora and fauna has influence on nutrient availability. Thus, the homoeopathic remedy will make these nutrients available.
Both too much and too little phosphorus can cause changes in pest behaviour. An imbalance encourages egg production in spider mites, as mentioned by the USDA.
This increases phosphorus availability in the soil. Also plant life affects the pH and the availability of nutrients. Plants can change the soil environment and its level of alkalinity or acidity. The occurrence of barley grass is correllated to the concentrations of organic calcium, transfer of nutrients and the presence of NH4, available phosphorus, exchangable cations and soluble salts.
(Metson et al. 1971)
High soil concentrations of phosphorus are also connected with perennial ryegrass causing ryegrass toxicity in sheep. When potassium was increased the ryegrass responded with an equal increase, while a low level of potassium reduced the occurrance of ryegrass in the paddock, while Paspalum and brown top bent increased.
Sheepsorrel, which is supposed to grow on acid soils, actually makes the soil more alkaline. It is an acid soil pioneer plant, which prepares the soil for plants, which require a more alkaline soil.
This can lead to problems with white fly in the field and in potting mixes. In field tests mixed results were obtained, depending on the plant species and the potting mix used.
Phosphorus and iron interaction must always be considered when dealing with phosphorus imbalances. Phosphorus is an important element for enzyme binding in the Krebs Cycle. A deficiency shows in discolouration of the leaves and stems to dark blue-green. Stunted growth, reduced quantity and quality of the seeds and fruits are the most observable symptoms. Increased scenescence and abscission are marked.
Phosphorus sources in agriculture consist of the following.
FLOWERS AND FRUITS
The flowers are abundant and fruits are big with tough skins, but a watery interior and little taste. In excess phosphorus flowers come too early and fail to fully develop the stamen. Sterility is the result. The reproduction is sublime if Phosphorus is given at the right time.
The diseases connected with Phosphorus are similar to Nat. phos. and Kali phos. but more pronounced. Dry rots are similar to Calcarea, Silicea, Calcarea fluor. or Lapis., soft rots, Armillaria root rots, collar rot citrus, bacterial soft rot, to name but a few examples.