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An Easy DIY Garden Elixir to Beat Summer Plant Stress

A potent summer elixir for ailing plants.

Phoenix gardeners are undoubtedly familiar with the gardening woes that come with summertime heat. 

“If plants are not receiving the proper care, they struggle with UV stress, chlorosis, salt burn and drying out during the warmer months,” says nursery owner and plant collector Shamus O’Leary. “Correct care and choosing amendments that strengthen and support them can alleviate these issues.”

This potent organic plant elixir combines three simple ingredients: water, seaweed extract and humic acid, which are available through local nurseries or online retailers. According to a Virginia Tech study, plants treated with the combination produce 50% more of a powerful antioxidant enzyme and plant-protection agent called superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD protects plant membranes from oxidative stress and boosts resilience to pests and diseases.

Plant Science 101

Benefits of humic acids
Humic acids are complex molecules of decayed organic matter. Desert soils are void of humic acids, as they do not contain organic materials, and are often high in pH and easily compacted. Alkaline soil causes nutrient deficiencies and chlorosis—the yellowing of green leaves due to lack of chlorophyll. Humic acids improve soil structure by increasing aeration, preventing water loss, loosening the soil and  lowering the pH. As a bio-stimulant, they also support plant enzymes, encourage root development and thicken cell walls in fruit. 

Benefits of seaweed extract
Seaweed extract is made from kelp, which is a bio-stimulant and contains more than 70 nutrients and powerful plant hormones to help plants cope with stress. Additionally, it improves flowering and leaf development, which increases fruiting. The benefits for soil include improved structure and water retention, as well as healthy microbial activity

Summer Plant Elixir

2 ounces seaweed extract
5 ounces liquid humic acid
5 gallons water

Mix ingredients in a 5-gallon bucket, and use a watering can to apply roughly 1 gallon of the preparation to each tree or large potted plant. For veggie beds, apply 1 to 5 gallons, depending on the size. This plant panacea is advantageous year-round and safe for all plants, including houseplants.


Shamus O’Leary, GreenLife by Shamus O’Leary, Phoenix,


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