Sugar Water for Plants – Amazing Gardening Facts!

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Last Updated on June 21, 2023 by Tony Manhart

If you have ever wondered about using sugar water for plants, then this article would be beneficial to you. Do plants like sugar water? I have read a few blogs on the internet where people enthusiastically espouse using sugar water. This is not a good idea!

Sugar water can cause pathogenic bacteria to grow, cause mold to grow on leaves, and actually dehydrate the roots of plants. There are some advantages to using molasses solutions, that contain a bit of sugar – but these will be far more effective if you actually culture microbes in the solution first to remove the sugar.

Can Sugar Water Kill Plants

So, can sugar water kill plants? If your plants are thriving, feeding them sugar water can have adverse effects that will contribute to their deterioration. This is because sweetened water will affect the way the plant roots absorb nutrients and moisture, among other things. In other words, feeding your plant sugar water can kill them.

For this reason, if you want your garden or indoor plants to grow healthily, you should not give them water that has been sweetened with sugar. Although some may argue that sugar water enhances the plant’s growth, this is not the case, as we have evidently seen in our tried and tested methods. Reverse osmosis, which causes plants to lose moisture and perish, is imminent with the continuous use of sugar water. So, steering clear from it is best to keep your plants thriving.

 Sugar Water for Houseplants

Is sugar water for houseplants a recommended gardening hack? Although this hack is widely seen as beneficial on several social media platforms, I am against it for several reasons. According to these platforms, the use of sugar water in plants enhances photosynthesis and reduces transplant shock.  Carbon dioxide, water, and energy is used in the photosynthesis process as it aids plants in producing starches and sugars.

Sugar water is thought to be the answer to enhance the carbohydrates that plants need, but this is untrue. The reality is that even if this were the case, the damage that sweetened water can cause to your houseplants will actually be irreparable in most cases. The reason why sugar water does not work as a plant food is that, unlike humans, plants do not possess a digestive system to process carbs as we do.

Therefore, refined sugar, which is complex, is not recommended for houseplants. Plant roots can also become blocked if they are fed sugar water. Thereafter, your plant will undoubtedly deteriorate.

sugar water for houseplants

Do Spider Plants like Sugar Water

Do spider plants like sugar? Although spider plants may like sugar water, too much of it can cause reverse osmosis, which can kill them.  Keep in mind that snake plants, like others, photosynthesis to make their own sugar and don’t usually consume sugar water as a food source. Soil components like phosphorous, nitrogen, and minerals are what plants actually rely on to thrive. Adding sugar when watering spider plants may seem like a good idea to encourage their growth, but it actually does more harm than good.

For spider plants to grow their best, filtered or rainwater is best. The reason for this is that these plants have a negative reaction to the chemicals and chlorine found in tap water. However, this does not mean that tap water cannot be used. To use it without causing harm, allowing it to stand overnight will get rid of harmful chemicals.

Here are a few spider plant care tips to keep them healthy and happy:

  • Ensure that your spider plant is placed in a bright location with shaded light.
  • Room temperatures should be moderate to keep your plant growing at its best.
  • The soil should be kept slightly moist when growing spider plants.
  • In the spring and summertime, water your plant weekly. Letting the soil dry out completely before watering is ideal for the winter season.
  • The telltale signs of underwatering include faded leaves, which are quite different from the lush, green spider plant leaves.

Sugar Water for Snake Plant

So, you’re wondering about sugar water for snake plant. As I have mentioned above, although some may argue that sugar water for plants is a great source to encourage their growth, ignoring the fact that the use of it can be detrimental is sheer ignorance. Snake plants, like other garden beauties, are capable of naturally developing sugars to keep them well-fed.

Whether you’re an established or new gardener, ask yourself, is it worth taking the risk? Seeing that there are so many safe-to-use plant foods on the market, getting one that is best for snake plants would be a better option. I understand that home remedies for gardening are a much cheaper option, but I speak from experience when I say that it is not worth throwing your efforts down the drain by feeding your plants sugar water as it is bound to destroy them.

Take heed of these snake plant care tips to grow them healthily:

  • It is best to water your snake plants once the soil is almost dried. A quick test to check for soil moisture with your fingers is advised in this case.
  • Overwatering snake plants will result in their deterioration, as this is one of the most common ways to kill them.
  • Snake plants do best in sunlight, so ensure that they get enough.
  • Warm environments with temperatures above 10 C are ideal for snake plants.
  • When repotting snake plants, doing it during the springtime is best.
  • Houseplant compost is recommended to keep them thriving.
  • To ensure that the leaves stay lush, wiping them now and then with a damp clean cloth is recommended.

Watering Plants With Sugar: What Happens?

The sugar will go into the soil. Here it will contribute to the osmotic pressure in the soil – if you add a lot of sugar, it will actually dehydrate the roots. Sugar will cause rapid growth of bacteria in the soil, and these bacteria will remove oxygen from the soil. Now your soil is putting the roots under stress and has no oxygen. This will kill some roots. In short, you can damage your plant badly!

Do plants like sugar water?

There are anecdotal tales on the internet about sugar being helpful to plants, but I cannot find a peer-reviewed article that shows any benefit. My general gut feeling would be that, no, they do not like sugar water. Sugar is a very desirable chemical to microbes – if you pour sugar into the soil, the microbes in the soil will consume this – in so doing, they first consume oxygen, and once this has been depleted, anaerobic bacteria will ferment the sugar – producing more carbon dioxide and acids and solvents that will damage the roots. The lack of oxygen will also damage the roots, or even kill them.

 Can sugar water help plants grow

Does sugar make plants grow faster?

If plants are under stress, they grow more slowly. Introducing sugar into the soil, will increase osmotic stress, increase the growth of carbon dioxide-producing bacteria and reduce oxygen in the soil. Adding sugar to the soil will also result in the soil becoming acidic, and this will cause heavy metals to leach out of the soil. All of these will conspire to cause slower plant growth.

We have often been told that “sugar gives you energy”. Biologically this is true – in very very small concentrations. If our sugar levels go wrong for us as humans we call it diabetes. It kills you. Plants are hardly ever exposed to large concentrations of sucrose in nature – this means they will always be stressed by its presence outside the roots.

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The Best Way to Water Plants With Sugar…

Do not!

If you want to use a  sugar product buy some black strap molasses – mix a tablespoon of this per gallon of water, add a bit of yeast and let it ferment for a week. Dilute this mixture 1/10 with water and use it as a foliar feed and drench.

The company I work with in Mauritius produces thousands of tons of the above mix, which is applied to sugar cane with great success. Molasses is rich in calcium, potassium, phosphate, sulfate, and trace minerals. Removing the sugars through fermentation helps to make this better for the soil. Adding molasses straight to the soil can damage plants due to the sugar in the molasses.

In my main line of work, we help distilleries convert molasses into alcohol such as rum and neutral spirits. In this process, molasses and water are mixed and fermented in very big tanks. When I say very big I mean tanks that ferment 100 000 gallons each day at the bigger distilleries.

The fermented product is injected into a distillation system that uses steam as a heat source to strip the alcohol out of the mix. This alcohol is distilled to 96% purity, and the gunk that falls comprises water and molasses that has its sugar removed by fermentation and converted to alcohol. So this is sugar-free molasses – we call this dilute mess vinasse.

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We then take this vinasse as it is known, and boil the water out of it to produce concentrated molasses solids or CMS. CMS is an exceptional fertilizer because it contains minerals – and does not contain sugar. If molasses were a good fertilizer, people would rather use it straight as a fertilizer, but the sugar in molasses is toxic to plants in large concentrations, hence we go to all this effort to make CMS and alcohol to produce “sugar-free” molasses to use as a fertilizer.

There are billions of dollars worth of systems like this in Brazil, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, the USA, China, and many more sugar-producing countries. Trust me – if sugar was good for plants, these folks would apply it!! Sugar is not good for plants. That is why these sugar barons do not give sugar to their plants.

They give sugar (and alcohol) to you – and give the good healthy nutrients back to their plants. There is a lesson in there somewhere.

Is Raw Sugar Good For Plants?

No. Plants make their own sugar, in their leaves and move it around. If you put sugar into the soil, it will actually inhibit the plants from being able to absorb nutrients and will cause all sorts of problems for the plant and the soil. Bacteria and fungi will grow rapidly using sugar as an energy source – they can do this – and in so doing they will remove all oxygen from the soil. This will cause a lot of stress or even death of the plant roots.

Is Cane Sugar Good For Plants?

No. Cane sugar is sugar, and it will damage the plant roots. Sugar decomposes rapidly in soil, using up oxygen. Organic acids such as vinegar can be the byproduct of this process, and this actually damages the soil. Sugar can also dehydrate plant roots, by actually sucking water out of the roots. I work in many sugar mills around the world, where there is an abundant waste of sugar to be used, and I have never seen a single agronomist ever recommend putting sugar on plants. Molasses yes (calcium, potassium, etc). Sugar no.

How Do You Increase Sugar Levels in Plants?

Plants produce sugar through photosynthesis. This is often measured as the so-called “Leaf Brix” or “Sap Brix”, a measure of the dissolved salts and sugar in the plant sap. If plants have weak sunlight or short days, they will tend to not be able to produce enough sugar, and this results in low sugar symptoms in leaves. The easiest way to increase sugar levels in plants is by providing additional lighting so that the plants get 15 or more hours of light a day, and ensuring that they have healthy soil and nutrients.

You cannot increase sugar levels in plants by feeding it to their roots – if anything, this will probably reduce the Leaf Brix, because you may kill the roots, and then the plant cannot get nutrients for photosynthesis.

What Sugar Do Plants Need?

Plants make glucose, by using sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into this sugar in a process called photosynthesis. They make their own sugar – feeding plants sugar will cause more harm than good. Plants do not need sugar, and giving sugar to plants is actually a bit toxic to them.

Where is Sugar Created in Plants?

Sugar is created in any green parts of the plant – this is normally mainly the leaves of the plant, but in many plants the stems and smaller branches can also be green, increasing the total area that receives sunlight and produces sugar. The entire process of sugar production in leaves is really an area game – the larger the surface area of the leaf, and the more sunlight the leaf can absorb, the more sugar it can produce and the faster the plant can grow.

The process by which carbon dioxide is converted to sugar in the chloroplasts is called photosynthesis. The chloroplasts are small organelles within the cells of the leaves and stems that are very similar to photosynthetic bacteria. These small, independent organelles, contain pigments that absorb various wavelengths of light, allowing light energy to be converted into chemical energy.

This chemical energy is used to drive a process whereby carbon dioxide is freed of its oxygen, and the carbon is then reacted to create glucose through a long complex reaction. This reaction is called photosynthesis and is the cornerstone reaction that allows all complex life on earth to exist. Without this huge production of sugar by plants, none of the rest of us animals would be able to mooch a living off the plants of our planet.

Conclusion On The Topic “Do Plants Like Sugar Water?”

Do not put sugar water on your plants. You risk damaging the plants. If you do wish to do something like this, mix a few tablespoons of molasses in a gallon of water, ferment it for a week by adding yeast and dilute this 1/10 and use it as a drench and foliar feed.

The molasses has nutrients in it that straight sugar does not. A second answer to our question would be – plants do not like sugar, but, they love the stuff that sugar came from – molasses. Because sugar is essentially basically bad for humans, and bad for plants, and all the good stuff stays in the molasses. So, consider using molasses in your coffee!! It is a healthier alternative to sugar.


Can sugar water help plants grow?

No - it will damage the roots, make the soil a bit anaerobic and hurt your plants.

Will sugar water hurt plants?


Can plants have too much sugar?

Yes. Sugar ferments in the soil and uses up oxygen. It also burns the roots with its high osmotic potential.

Do plants need sugar?

Plants produce their own sugar in their leaves. They do not need us to provide additional sugar to their soil.

Read more about Growing Sugar Snap Peas In Containers

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