Introduction: Hacking Plant Growth - Submitted by BayLab for the Instructables Sponsorship Program
Want to hack your plants on a genetic level and make them grow huge? This instructable will show you how!
Step 1: Gibberellic Acid
Gibberellic Acid is a naturally occurring plant growth hormone. Plants normally produce GA, and it’s what regulates their growth. So, if you introduce more to a plant, it will grow faster. There’s a ‘sweet spot’ of concentration you have to hit, or else the plant will die. It’s a very small concentration, no greater than 10 mg/L. GA stimulates the cells of germinating seeds to produce mRNA that codes for hydrolytic enzymes. That stimulates mitosis in leaves, and increases the speed that seeds germinate. It also causes plants to experience cell elongation, breaking and budding, seedless fruits, and can be used to break the dormant cycle. GA plays an important role at the beginning of a plant’s life as well. Before a seed has sprouted, it can’t photosynthesize, so it uses stored energy reserves in the form of starches inside the seed. GA signals hydrolysis by inducing the synthesis of an enzyme called α-amylase. That enzyme then hydrolyzes the starch into glucose, which the seed uses for cellular respiration.
Step 2: Where to Get It
I got my Gibberellic Acid from United Nuclear. You can also get it from other plant supply shops online (although it's a little hard to find in small quantities). You should note that when searching for information about GA, most of it will be found in Marijuana growing forums. Apparently those people like to experiment with it and people ask questions about it a lot. It's also used in huge farming operations, especially for grapes.
Step 3: How to Use It
The biggest mistake you'll make with GA is using too much. When you buy it from United Nuclear, they include a sheet to help calculate concentrations, but in general, you should keep it under 10 mg/L. Different amounts have different effects on different plants, so playing with concentration is part of the fun of experimenting!
You'll know you used too much if the plant dies. Often times, the plant will get hard and woody after exposed to GA. Next we'll look at my results.
Step 4: Example Experiment
I performed controlled experiments on 3 different plants: a tomato plant, a small cactus, and rose bushes. I had two of every plant, each in it’s own pot, and kept them physically next to each other during the experiment. The control was given only water, and the second plant was treated with a dilution of 5 mg/L. I took photographs of the plants with a reference ruler next to them over the course of several weeks.
Step 5: Experiment Results
The tomato plants died, because of the Florida summer heat. That’s the rose bushes. My little brother is standing there for scale. The one on the left was treated with GA, the one of the right was not. There was some growth, but the plants didn’t start at the same height to begin with, so it looks more dramatic than it really is. But the one that was treated definitely grew faster than the control and grew about 2 inches more than the control did during the same time period. GA treated cacti grew about 0.5 inches more than the control did.
Step 6: Conclusion
My experiment only lasted about a month and I was able to see results. I suggest trying different concentrations with different plants, but make sure you have a control for each one so you can see the effect of the GA against how it would normally grow.
Final word of warning: if you try this on plants that produce fruit, DO NOT eat them. We're still not sure what the long term effects of GA are, and who knows what different concentrations will do. Be safe.