Salicylic acid for plants

As independent sports turf consultants we are constantly looking for innovative solutions to turfgrass managment and in reality the use of salicylic acid for plants has several benefits. In 1933, salicylic acid (SA) was first proposed to develop acquired immunity after disease infection. However, most of our knowledge about plant immune signalling has mainly been recent after it was found that salicylic acid (SA) is defence signal derived from within the plant. So what is this novel plant biostimulant?

SA show that it affects several plant processes.

  1. Abiotic stresses: SA impacts on several abiotic stresses including cold tolerance, temperature extremes, drought tolerance, tolerance to UV radiation, and soil salinity tolerance. It also
  2. Induces resistance to biotic (disease) stress.

Foliar applications of SA affect several aspects of plant growth and development1 2 3.

For instance, it affects:

  1. The germinaton of seeds;
  2. The growth of plants;
  3. Root development;
  4. Photosynthesis;
  5. Plant respiration and
  6. the Krebs cycle.

Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR)

Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR) is a long-lasting and broad-spectrum defence mechanism that occurs when a pathogen infects turfgrass. Consequently, after infection, the pathogen triggers the salicylic acid pathway. Next, This induces defence response genes in the plant and then results in PR protein production.

Above all, salicylic acid plays a beneficial role in turfgrass management as it is a plant hormone that helps regulate various physiological processes in plants, including turfgrass.

Here are a few key roles of salicylic acid in turfgrass:

Disease resistance using salicylic acid for plants:

In short, this occurs as a result of salicylic acid boosting the plant’s immune system. It enhances the plant’s resistance to several diseases, in particular fungi or bacteria. It activates defence mechanisms within the plant, making it less susceptible to infections. For example, foliar applications of salicylic acid cause systemic acquired resistance (SAR) in plants, and provide protection against various biotic stresses.4

Fungal diseases:

Salicylic acid enhances turfgrass resistance against turfgrass diseases such as dollar spot (caused by Sclerotinia homoeocarpa) and brown patch (caused by Rhizoctonia solani). It activates defence responses within the plant, including the production of antimicrobial compounds and reinforcement of cell walls, consequently, making it more difficult for fungi to infect the turfgrass.

In fact, It has been shown to be effective against grey leaf spot on turf type perennial ryegrass, giving a significant decrease in disease5.

Bacterial diseases:

Salicylic acid also helps turfgrass combat bacterial diseases like bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum) and bacterial leaf blight (Xanthomonas spp.). A series of growth chamber studies pre-treating plants with SA reduces disease symptoms of bacterial wilt in both creeping bentgrass ‘Penn-A4’ and ‘Tyee’.

SA application reduced disease in both cultivars under both optimal and high temperature treatments. Moreover, at both 23 °C and 35 °C, disease severity in plants with SA was less than in control plants.6

To sum up, it achieves this by stimulating the plant’s immune system to produce defence-related proteins, enzymes, and chemicals that can inhibit bacterial growth and limit disease progression.

Viral diseases:

While salicylic acid doesn’t directly target viruses, it can indirectly enhance turfgrass resistance to them. By activating systemic acquired resistance (SAR), salicylic acid helps the plant produce antiviral proteins that hinder the spread and replication of viruses.

Nematode resistance using salicylic acid for plants:

Salicylic acid increases turfgrass resistance against nematode infestations. Nematodes are microscopic worms that can damage turfgrass roots, leading to stunted growth and decline. Salicylic acid induces defence mechanisms in the plant, such as the release of nematode-repellent chemicals, which deter nematode feeding7 8

Insect effects

Research has even shown it repels certain insects such as thrips9, caterpillars10, and indirect effects on mite mortality11.12

Stress tolerance using salicylic acid for plants:

Turfgrass often faces environmental stressors, such as drought, heat, or cold. Salicylic acid helps the plant cope with these stresses by regulating various stress-responsive genes and biochemical pathways. It improves the resilience of turfgrass, therefore allowing it to withstand adverse conditions more effectively.

Growth regulation:

Salicylic acid influences the growth and development of turfgrass. It promotes root growth, leading to a healthier and more robust root system. Additionally, it can regulate shoot growth, helping to maintain a balanced growth pattern and overall turf quality.

Photosynthesis and chlorophyll production:

Finally, salicylic acid also enhances photosynthesis, which is crucial for the production of energy and the maintenance of turfgrass health. It can increase chlorophyll content, leading to greener and more vibrant turf.


salicylic acid for plants

Salicylic acid on plants – cool season turf

Cool-season turf is highly susceptible to temperature extremes and as a result, this can have major impacts on growth. Significantly, research shows that salicylic acid increases heat tolerance on both kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, and increases turfgrass quality.14

Vertmax Duo: A premium turf colourant containing salicylic acid

Why Vertmax Duo?

Vertmax Duo turf pigment is the only product on the market containing 200g/L of salicylic acid. This means that one application gives an immediate colour response together with all the potential benefits listed above. It is also the only product on the market that contains adjuvants and stickers to help longevity and uptake.

  • Increases in disease resistance;
  • Increased in tolerance to stresses like heat and drought;
  • non staining if used as per label;
  • Increases in root growth;
  • Extensively researched over two years before market launch and
  • Higher quality playing surfaces.

In summary, given these points, please feel free to check out more information on Vertmax Duo or contact us directly. To put it another way, why prevent your playing surface from being at its best?

Vertmax Duo label

Vertmax Duo presentation