What Happens When You Give Sugar Water to Plants?


Naturally, plants produce their own sugar known as glucose via photosynthesis. They also produce sucrose, a commonly refined sugar. Because plants and sugar have a significant relationship, most people have considered feeding the plants with sugar water to help them in sugar production and photosynthesis. Because this does not sound illogical or senseless, this is one of the common things in the gardening industry that individuals have been trying out. However, it is important to get more insight into this topic before you try it out yourself.

So, what happens when you give sugar water to plants?

When you feed plants with sugar water, it lowers the osmotic potential of water in the soil, which results in the water being less available for the plant roots. For plants to absorb water from the soil, the water potential in the soil must be higher than the water potential in the soil. Because plants can’t absorb the water from the soil, they might get dehydrated and even die. Therefore, sugar water can harm your plant significantly instead of helping your plant.

The sugar components in water are not processable or digestible by plants because of their limited metabolic pathways. Most of the plant’s roots are not adapted to absorbing sugar. According to Penn Today, plants can readily make their sugar through photosynthesis to help them grow. Additionally, sugar water can increase the activity of harmful microorganisms as it serves as a treat for both good and bad microorganisms. However, sugar water can be helpful to plants, although it should not be given in excessive amounts. Plants growing in Petri dishes or hydroponically require sugar as a carbon source to help them grow and sprout. This is particularly true for tissue plant clones and young plants that have not started to produce their sugar effectively via photosynthesis. However, ensure the water is added in small amounts and diluted well.

When To Avoid Sugar Water

You should avoid using sugar water on healthy plants growing properly because it means they are generating all the sugar they require from the water and nutrients drawn by roots from the ground. According to Oregon State University, plants use photosynthesis to make the amounts of nutrients they require. Therefore, if you add sugar when the plants are already growing healthy on their own, the plants won’t accept the sugar and might even make them wilt or die off. A lot of sugar can choke off the roots, so they will find it challenging to draw up water, and lack of water equals plant death. Some of the symptoms that you are using a lot of sugar water on plants include; wilting, yellowing leaves, and lack of sparse blooms.

When Is It Okay to Add Sugar Water to A Plant?

Sugar water is normally acceptable to give to cut flowers that are beginning to wilt or the plant species that usually grow outside the soil. The cut roots absorb the sugars enabling the flowers to live longer and look healthier. When you have live plants with wilted leaves, some sugar water can often help bring them back to life. If you plan to do this, you roughly need a teaspoon of sugar for each quart of water to avoid oversaturating the plants with sugar, although this ratio can differ based on the flower species and type.

Alternative Methods

If plants still have difficulty achieving a healthy rate of photosynthesis and making sugars even after providing them with the best cultivation practices in place, here are some alternative ways to boost their growth.

Plant food

One of the safe alternatives to sugar water is plant food commonly used with house or indoor plants. You can readily find plant food at gardening centers, supermarkets, and even home improvements. For most florists, when you buy or receive cut flowers, you are normally given a small packet of plant food and use instructions. Follow the instructions on the package while ensuring the food is safe for your type of plant. You can also consider adding compost and mulch to the soil.

Club Soda

Club soda is, also known as sparkling water, is mineral water that has been infused with carbon dioxide bubbles. It works best for young seedlings that don’t have sufficient leaves to photosynthesize independently. By adding carbon dioxide water to the seedling, it can absorb the gas quicker for photosynthesis and, as a result, grow quicker. Additionally, club soda normally contains magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, and other trace minerals. This will be highly beneficial for plants growing on soil with nutrient deficiencies. As a gardener, you don’t have to find any specific type of club soda for your plants. Any of the cheap brands will do it. However, the more carbonated the club soda, the better it will be for your plant. You will only need to water your plants with club soda around once a week.

Plastic wrap

Consider applying plastic wrap if you have younger plants with carbon dioxide deficiencies. You just need to curtain a layer of plastic cling wrap over the top of the plants to help trap carbon dioxide gases around the leaves. However, ensure the plastic is not held too tight over the plants for too long. Keep it only until the process of photosynthesis can take place. This is noticeably after bubbles stop forming.

Talking to the plant

It might look senseless, but there is some truth in terms of plants benefiting from you talking to them. When talking to the plant, the carbon dioxide breathed out from your lungs can help the plants absorb more carbon dioxide in a shorter period. Talking to your plant for only five minutes, you can give them sufficient carbon dioxide equivalent to one-liter club soda.

Bottom Line

Plants can take care of themselves by producing their own food through photosynthesis without our help. While adding sugar water to a plant won’t help it grow, you can use the other tips reviewed to help your plant thrive instead of risking it. All in all, as long as plants are provided with necessities for survival, including water, air, and sunlight, in addition to organic soil packed with healthy nutrients, they will continue growing and flourishing naturally.

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