I am not a medical doctor nor do I pretend to know more than one.
Let’s start at the beginning. I am not a medical doctor nor do I pretend to know more than one. I don’t even play one on television. The data here is gleaned from sources across the Net (all are linked so you can read the original)
Let’s assume somebody with coronavirus had been in the garden center. Let’s look at some of the variables.
Other Gardeners Shopping
It goes without saying that avoiding other shoppers is a key factor here. This is particularly a problem in the narrow shopping aisles of most garden centres. The 6-foot rule is critical to follow.
Shop at strange hours – very early – very late – to avoid people in the garden centre aisles
How Long Does Coronavirus live on common items found in a garden center?
- Paper: 3 hours
- Copper: 4 hours
- Cardboard: 24 hours
- Wood: 2 days
- Cloth: 2 days
- Stainless steel: 2-3 days
- Plastic: 3 days
- Glass: 4 days
- Paper money: 4 days
Will it survive in standing water.
Survival of Coronaviruses in Water and Wastewater
The quick answer is yes, no and maybe. There’s need for more research. It’s likely safe to assume 2-4 days on very wet greenhouse surfaces if the water is allowed to stand (and not evaporate).
Areas under benches, in the shade or with constantly damp fibre pots could be an issue.
The advent of severe acute respiratory syndrome and its potential environmental transmission indicates the need for more information on the survival of coronavirus in water and wastewater. The survival of representative coronaviruses, feline infectious peritonitis virus, and human coronavirus 229E was determined in filtered and unfiltered tap water (4 and 23°C) and wastewater (23°C). This was compared to poliovirus 1 under the same test conditions. Inactivation of coronaviruses in the test water was highly dependent on temperature, level of organic matter, and presence of antagonistic bacteria.
The time required for the virus titer to decrease 99.9% (T99.9) shows that in tap water, coronaviruses are inactivated faster in water at 23°C (10days) than in water at 4°C (>100days).
Coronaviruses die off rapidly in wastewater, with T99.9 values of between 2 and 4days. Poliovirus survived longer than coronaviruses in all test waters, except the 4°C tap water.
Does It Live On Plant Leaves
I think it’s safe to assume it could. The question of course is for how long?
Virus are no strangers to the plant world and can create a wide range of problems for growers/gardeners.
I was not able to find data on this – if you run across a reputable source, send it to me via email in the contact page.
But Can I Kill It On The Plant Leaves
This was an interesting search to pull up
In the next section of their paper, the authors address the best way to inactivate coronaviruses.
They conclude that agents, including hydrogen peroxide, ethanol, and sodium hypochlorite (a chemical in bleach), quickly and successfully inactivate coronaviruses.
For instance, the authors write that “hydrogen peroxide was effective with a concentration of 0.5% and an incubation time of 1 minute.”
After assessing the evidence, the authors conclude:
“Surface disinfection with 0.1% sodium hypochlorite or 62–71% ethanol significantly reduces coronavirus infectivity on surfaces within 1 min[ute] exposure time.”Medical News Today
The problem with spraying a disinfectant on a leaf – with no previous data re concentrations etc – is that you could burn the leaf. For example, insecticidal soap at aphid-killing concentrations burns the colour right out of impatiens flowers.
From the data above, Hydrogen peroxide is probably your best bet for spraying plants but do watch the concentrations and test on leaves first. It will very likely burn flowers.
If you decide to do this, do a small test first.
I was not able to discover whether Covid-19 lives on plant leaves and for how long.
My Best Advice: Start Your Own Seedlings
It’s still not too late to start common vegetables in the basement and switch to seeds like asters, zinnia etc to sow directly in the garden rather than shopping/transplanting etc.
I will do my best to update this post about Covid-19 and gardening as I find new data.
Let me be frank. I don’t give a damn about the politics of Covid-19 and the U.S. political right-left response to it. I want hard research-based information to share which may influence our gardens and how we garden.
Political commentary will be deleted and banned.
Use the contact page to send me relevant research links.