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Old 08-22-2002, 07:01 AM
Hemlock Hemlock is offline
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Hong Kong, China
Posts: 1,014
Birth control pills make good fertilizer for plants????

Sounds crazy - pills designed to supress fertility in humans helping plants grow. However, my domestic helper (DH) has recently decided that my apartment needs an orchid plant. It looks like 2 pairs of large dogs' tongues (big ones) flopping over either side of a basket 6" in diameter. A central sprout is growing directly upwards. The basket is full of moss.

At first, my DH decided egg shells would help it grow. Then she put some BBQ charcoal on. Now, she is putting pills on it (ground-up - "Nordette", levonorgestrel with ethynil estradiol, according to the box - you can buy them off the shelf here, like baked beans).

I say she's nuts. Any botanists or gardeners able to back me up??? Did a Google search. i found that the eggshells are favored by some other orchid fans (though they happen to be Filipino, like my DH). But no mention of birth control pills.
Blog plug – The Diary of Hong Kong’s Most Obnoxious Expat
Old 08-22-2002, 09:57 AM
easy e easy e is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,640
This anecdote was mentioned in Anne Fadiman's book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Some S. California physicians were complaining that Hmong women were fertilizing plants with their birth control pills, rather than taking them themselves.

I don't know of the mechanism as to why it would work, though.
Old 08-22-2002, 11:12 AM
chukhung chukhung is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 947
Sorry. Didn't find anything about orchids and birth control pills, but I did run across this press release from the Geological Society of America. I have no idea at all if the science is valid or completely loony:
Hermaphrodite fish are on the rise, thanks to the birth control pill and other natural and unnatural forms of estrogen that have made their way into the water. Feminized fish were first found downstream from sewage plants in the United Kingdom....[Chris Metcalfe, professor of Environmental and Resource Studies at Trent University in Ontario] found that very low levels of the estrogen hormones, 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol, 17 beta-estradiol, estrone and estriol, caused intersex and altered sex ratios in the aquarium fish....He believes that it is the female estrogen hormones released from sewage treatment plants that are responsible for the feminization of wild fish.
So even if the pills aren't helping the orchids, they may be confusing the hell out of the fish downstream...
Old 08-22-2002, 08:15 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 13,304
I knew a guy in high school who collected birth control pills from girls to use on his plants. Dunno if it really worked, but the belief that it does isn't unique.
Old 08-22-2002, 11:30 PM
Hemlock Hemlock is offline
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Hong Kong, China
Posts: 1,014
I'm relieved that there are at least a few other people out there doing this - well, some Hmong women and a guy in Lamia's high school.

And effeminate fish. What next?
Blog plug – The Diary of Hong Kong’s Most Obnoxious Expat


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