I am looking for a technologically-viable substance that could be used to accelerate growth in plants or very large trees.

The option for administering the substance to the plant is open, whether it needs to be injected straight into the xylem, put into the air, etc.

Is this at all possible?

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    $\begingroup$ You should specify how fast you want to accelerate growth. The obvious answer, for now, is "you can use fertilizer to accelerate plant growth," but I think you know about fertilizer already and may be looking for something to make plants grow a little more "faster than a normal plant with proper nutrients (such as you get from fertilizer)." $\endgroup$ – PipperChip Aug 11 '15 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ I've added the reality check tag as it sounds like that is what you are looking for. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 11 '15 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Tim - I didn't know which tags existed, as this is my first question :) $\endgroup$ – Isaac Woods Aug 12 '15 at 18:08

To work on all plants in general, it'd have to be a genetic solution. As an ecological approach like using a gas with pheromones would only work on specific species.

You could alter the genes of the plant and accelerate its metabolism and reduce its energy storage allocation to accelerate growth.

Using a bacteriophage to deliver a virus that inserts or modifies segments of the gene to accelerate its rate of growth is a somewhat plausible way to do it.


Photosynthesis is really inefficient (3% - 6%) so most of the light absorbed by a plant is just lost. In order to make a plant grow faster, give it more energy to work with by giving it better photosynthesis.

You'll need to do some tricky protein work to come up with a more efficient chlorophyll molecule. Once you have a suitably more efficient molecule, with a little gene splicing, you can inject the new gene into plant saplings. If you have to inject it into a mature plant, then something like CRISPR-CAS9 may be useful.


A certain increase in growth can be achieved by keeping plants in the right conditions. This means fertilizer, temperature, water, etc.

There are also a few things that might increase this further, for example Hydrogen sulfide: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130417185531.htm

However none of these offer "magical" increases and introducing a simple substance will never be able to do that.

In order to grow plants need to pull up nutrients from the surface, process sunlight and water. Cells need to reproduce and arrange themselves correctly, etc etc.

Plants can grow very fast (see bamboo for example) but there are trade offs for doing so. Note that hardwood like oak for example grows much more slowly than pine.

So in other words, yes if you mean a small increase. No if you mean "magical" trees shooting up into the air.


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