Dry ice is the frozen form of pure carbon dioxide. It is colorless, odorless, non-flammable and slightly acidic. These qualities make dry ice ideal for a variety of commercial ventures. Despite its cold temperature, dry ice even presents benefits when exposed to live plants.
The average temperature of dry ice is -109.3 F. For this reason precautions need to be taken with handling and exposure. Do not place the dry ice too close to a live plant for an extended period of time. The tolerance of different plants will vary, but in any case, careless placement will result in damage or death for the plant.
Dry ice is used commercially by florists to transport plants. It helps to maintain the temperature of the plants around 34 F for an extended period of time. This will delay blooming until the plant reaches its destination. Overexposure needs to be avoided, however, to prevent wilting and frost damage.
Carbon dioxide is necessary for plants to perform photosynthesis. Since dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide, adding it to the plants environment can elevate the rate of photosynthesis. As carbon dioxide goes from its solid form to its gaseous form there is no intermediate liquid phase. Dry ice can be a clean, efficient and natural way to boost the growth of a plant.
Despite its many useful applications, dry ice can present its dangers. It is important to always wear goggles, thick gloves and suitable clothing while handling dry ice. Since dry ice is carbon dioxide, it should not be handled for extensive periods of time in small spaces. Carbon dioxide poisoning is a threat that first manifests itself with headaches, difficulty breathing and nausea.
Some plants will react negatively to an excess of carbon dioxide, as will be provided by dry ice. Tomatoes and violets are two plants that are particularly sensitive. Most plants will also require and increase in nutrients provide to keep up with their accelerated rate of photosynthesis. If not provided with additional nutrients, the plants will wilt.