If you are a beginner or have been gardening for a while now, you might have learned many tips and tricks around plant growth. Sometimes, you might notice that your plants struggle to shoot new leaves and flowers or are wilting. You might be more inclined to use natural ways to help your plants grow. Whether you search online or a professional gardener, you might hear them suggest the use of sugar water. But is sugar water good for plants? Is there any documented benefit that is 100% proven to help them and make them look healthy and shiny? Let’s find out!
Why Do Plants Need Sugar? Does It Help Them Grow?
It all starts with photosynthesis. Plants basically use the much-needed energy from the sun. In combination with the carbon dioxide and the water, the chloroplasts can metabolize the carbon dioxide and create carbohydrates (made from sugars and various starches). The plants then use these carbohydrates to strengthen their roots, new proteins, or general storage.
Based on the process of photosynthesis, the use of sugar is suggested because it is believed that plants can produce sugars, so they should act as an extra benefit when watering them. This idea, though, has been completely falsified by many studies that have been conducted — there is no correlation between sugar use and the overall growth of plants.
Does Sugar Water Help Plants Grow Faster?
Amid all the studies that have been conducted, the use of sugar helps the plants only when they come directly from the plant itself (meaning that the plants like their own self-made sugar that they created through photosynthesis). This self-made sugar helps them transition smoothly and build some healthy foliage, but this won’t be achieved if we use plain sugar between our watering.
Can Sugar Water Hurt Plants?
Since we now know that using sugar in our waterings won’t help plants effectively, we must also consider the potential harm. The number one effect that most studies have found is that sugar can reduce the plants’ ability to absorb or take in any water. It might act as a temporary energy booster, but nothing else will occur afterward.
When Can We Use Sugar Water
In case you are wondering by now whether sugar is a really bad idea, take a breath. While we might become aware of the potential risks in the plant world, plants never cease to amaze us. That said, there are some cases where we can use sugar. When we notice a wilting plant near the edge of dying, we can add sugar to add more sucrose and glucose. The sucrose will also use the nitrogen in the soil with the help of the microorganisms. Nitrogen will then offer its help by providing the plant with the right amounts of energy so it can stay alive!
When Sugar Water Can Hurt Our Plants
Sugar won’t be needed when the plants are developing, and they appear lush, green, and strong. As mentioned above, you might do more harm than good — the roots will get clogged, and you will disrupt the water intake that the plant has already established for itself. If you’re already using it, plants have their own way of letting you know that.
Signs of Overusing Sugar Water On Plants
There are only two sure signs of overusing sugar water o your plants:
- If you notice any weird wilting;
- If you notice any yellow leaves while being sure that you have provided enough plant food;
Any of the two or their combination is your sign to back off and let the plant be. You can use water to flush the soil a little bit, but the plant will start to feel better after some time. There is a quote that says, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In this case, it fits perfectly; if the plants seem okay, don’t do the helicopter dance around them.
How To Make Sugar Water For Plants
If you have any dying or struggling plants, you can use the sugar water to revive them. Here’s how you can make your own sugar water at home:
- Add 4-5 cups of water to a pan, and start boiling it.
- As a next step, add a quarter of white or brown sugar into the water and stir it firmly until you see that all the sugar is dissolved.
- Set aside the pan, and let the mixture cool down completely (it might need some time, 30-40 minutes)
- Place the mixture inside your watering can and use it only once every 2 weeks for dying/struggling plants or seedlings.
Can We Use Sugar Water For Dying Plants?
Although it is not considered a fertilizer, you can use sugar if your plants aren't doing so well. Sugar water in plants can help the microorganisms in the soil break down all the nutrients. It is vastly not recommended, though, to use just the sugar as plant food to save them. Besides the help it might offer to the microorganisms, it won't solve the overall problem. It is best to try and identify what is wrong with the plants and then use the sugar water as an additional way to help your plants.
Sugar Alternatives To Give Plants a Boost
If you are sure that the plants have everything they need, you might also want to explore other ways to boost their growth:
All the nutrients are found there. Whether the goal is stronger roots or lush foliage (or even both), it can help the plant grow efficiently. Since the fertilizers are now categorized for either indoor or outdoor plants, ensure you get the right type of plant food and read the instructions before use.
For a general boost, sparkling water can do wonders, mostly because of the minerals it contains (magnesium, potassium, iron, etc.). It also helps with the process of photosynthesis both for seedlings and mature plants since the gas emitted can be absorbed easily.
You won’t need to buy a specific type of sparkling water — all of them can provide great results! Keep in mind that it just needs to be highly carbonated to work (there are some sparkling waters with a light touch of carbon dioxide and some waters with a more lasting, fuzzy touch to the tongue ).
- Plastic wrap (only for a limited amount of time)
Younger plants may need the protection of plastic wrap. It helps them catch as much carbon dioxide as possible; it is usually suggested when the plants experience carbon dioxide deficiencies. Once the bubbles go away, you will need to take the plastic wrap off, so the photosynthesis can start and take further action.
Yes, you got this right. You might have a friend of yours that does this, or you might be the one who is doing it. Hanging out with the plants and even talking to them benefits them. Apparently, they really like the carbon dioxide that is coming out of your lungs!
Pros And Cons Of Using Sugar Water For Plants
Sugar water use is considered by many an “urban myth” since the benefits are limited and, most times, it can do more harm than good. Here are the pros and cons of sugar water use on plants:
- It can give a good energy boost to young plants as they are trying to reach the adult stage.
- It strengthens the soil microorganisms and helps them metabolize the organic matter better.
- It is easy to make at home, easy to use, and a natural way to boost plants.
- It doesn’t provide any direct help or benefit to plants that have matured and seem established.
- It is directly absorbed by the plant roots (no pathway)
- It makes the soil extremely moist, and it can reverse the osmosis process — the plant might begin to absorb water from its leaves and roots so it can survive.
- It can attract many pests and bugs.
Considering the pros and cons, it is best to use sugar water on seedlings and dying plants that might need extra assistance. There is no direct benefit in adult, established plants, and you might end up causing more harm than good.
Can Sugar Attract Pests?
Yes. When using sugar water, the plants serve as easy prey for mealybugs, aphids, gnats, and flies. All of these pests get mostly attracted by the sweet smell and taste of the sugar and invade the leaves' downward surface. They can also choose to invade and lay their eggs in the soil.
Can We Use Drinks That Include Sugar For Our Plants?
You can do that by using drinks you know don’t have too much sugar. If the sugar comes in high amounts, you can dilute the drink with some water and start watering.
Can Plants Have Too Much Sugar?
Absolutely. The excess use of sugar can cause root burns, reversing the overall osmosis process on them. The soil becomes fermented and can use too much oxygen, which is essential for plant growth.