A-Z Guide for Watering Plants with Sugar [Do’s and Don’ts]

watering plants with sugar

Curious about watering plants with sugar? We discuss all you need to know in this post.

What’s not to love about sugar? As plant lovers, you want to do everything possible to ensure your plants blossom and thrive. , you have to provide your plants receive proper nutrients to ensure healthy growth.

In plants, sugar is a necessary component to boost growth and foliage. However, the trick to achieve desirable results is in knowing how to use sugar for your plants. Fortunately, this article will take you through all you need to know about the relationship between plants and sugar. After that, you will be in a position to decide what you want.

Read on.

Also check – Best Self-watering globes

Is Sugar Important For Plants?

During photosynthesis, plants use carbon dioxide and hydrogen to produce sugar. The plant sugar has the energy that the plants use in respiration and transpiration processes for better growth. In short, sugar is vital in plant life, from the delicate and young stages of seed to sprout foliage as they mature up.

Also, sugar is crucial to help plants in forming cellulose. Therefore, the plant cells’ fibrous material makes the plant firm erect the stem and hold the leaves.

What’s more?

Plants are also able to transform a simple sugar called glucose into a more complex starchy sugar. Typically, photosynthesis cannot occur at night when there’s no sunlight; hence, the need for starchy sugar keeps the plant’s functions running. Better yet, plants use starchy sugar to produce new tissues and cell walls.

Nonetheless, the sugar levels in a plant will alert it at the right time to flower. How so? During respiration, a plant uses sugar to grow flowers producing energy even without the presence of sunlight.

On the other hand, transpiration occurs when the plant sugar mixes with water from the root system. Consequently, the water and sugar mixture surges upwards, distributing the energy on the whole plant and the water evaporates via the leaves.

It is also important to note that the plant cannot produce adequate sugar without water in producing the energy needed in the plant. This way, the plant cannot survive.

How Does Sugar Water Affect The Growth Of Plants?

How plants use sugar water for their benefit is not as you think. Usually, people take a sugary drink and immediately feel lots of energy bursting through their bodies. At the same time, this is not the case with plants because they cannot directly consume sugar water from the soil. Read on.

So, sugar water only provides energy to the valuable soil microbes, which break down more organic matter in the soil that feeds the plant. If you use more nutrients to remain healthy, it becomes easy to produce the beneficial sugar to make it lush and rapid-growing. Also, plants can regulate their sugar intake to suit their needs in different stages of their development. This means that sometimes they need more sugar while others have less or none.

In addition, plants that intake sugar water show a significant improvement, especially if they lacked water in general. In this case, any additional moisture goes a long way in ensuring better growth.

When Should You Avoid Using Sugar Water?

Adding sugar water to plants is not a must. So, if you see your plant is growing well and healthy, there is no need to use sugar water.

Besides, too much of something is poisonous! A healthy plant means it’s producing enough sugar on its own hence no need for more. So, when you add more, it may lead to adverse effects than what you intended. For instance, excess sugar can choke the roots making it difficult to draw up water. If your plant doesn’t draw water, it will die.

So how can you tell that you are giving your plants excess sugar water?

In case you are worried about when to stop or tell that your plants have excess sugar water intake, check out for the physical signs below;

  • Wilting due to dehydration
  • Discoloring of leaves to yellow
  • No or sparse flowers

How to Give Plants Sugar Water

The primary aspect is when and how to give sugar water to plants. When you do it correctly, you smile every time you look at your plants, and the feeling of pride will never leave your heart. Besides, one good turn deserves another.

Now that your plants seem weak, sugar water is necessary. Let’s see how to give them with a step-by-step guide below:

  1. Water to a plant is life hence the utmost need for it; please add about 4 cups of water to a pot.
  2. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil under medium heat
  3. Pour in 1/4 cup of granulated or brown sugar into the boiling water
  4. Before you stir to dissolve the sugar, ensure the stovetop is off
  5. Set the mixture aside and allow it to cool down to room temperature
  6. Pour the cooled mixture into an appropriate watering can
  7. Go ahead and water your plants with the sugar water mixture

Preferably, it would be better to water your plants with sugar water like three days a week and two days use plain water. Better still, you can do it once after a maximum of 2 weeks and ensure to use plain water in between. This way, the simple water will dilute and keep the sugar levels to a safe level.

Also, it is not a must to use white sugar. Some people opt for brown sugar, which provides better results. Others also tend to use molasses. What matters is having the proper ratio of sugar to water.

Remember, a young plant in the seedling and juvenile stages will need the extra nutrients from sugar water more than an adult plant. This way, it will grow strong and healthy; don’t overdo it with the sugar water.

Ideally, some people have issues making their sugar water mostly because they lack time to oversee the whole preparation process. In such a situation, it would help to try a commercial sugar-boost product for plants that will only need you to dilute with water whenever you need it.

Sugar Water Alternatives

As observed earlier, you don’t have to be strict on sugar. Besides, sometimes the sugar water process can fail. Such situations call for the need for alternative methods to help the plant push through photosynthesis naturally. Such alternatives are like:

Plant Food:  Plant food is one of the safest alternatives you can use to substitute sugar water. Usually, experts recommend it for only indoor plants. However, it can also boost the growth of plants same way as sugar water. Luckily it is easily and readily available even at supermarkets, gardening, and home improvement stores. Please ensure you follow the recommended procedure of use as well as getting a safe and right type for your specific plants;

Club Soda: Preferably, club soda is ideal for young seedlings without or with few leaves to enable photosynthesis on their own. This is because club soda consists of carbon dioxide, which seedlings take in effortlessly for photosynthesis.

What’s more?

Because photosynthesis is crucial, you can opt to cover your plants with a plastic sheet to trap carbon dioxide.

Pros and Cons of Using Sugar Water for Plants

A simple way to study the effects of sugar water on plants is by using grade-school science fair projects. Besides, scientists do that!

It is not something familiar that requires prior learning; many gardeners hear about this “plant growth hack” by word of mouth from other beginner growers and not garden specialists.

Therefore, with proper or wrong use of sugar water, expect the following effects on your plants;


  • Requires an easy DIY process at home
  • Boosts the soil microbes with sufficient energy to process organic matter
  • Provides an excellent boost to plants in their early and vital stages of development


  • Plants do not take in the sugar water directly.
  • Excess levels of sugar in the soil can lead to an adverse reaction like a reverse osmosis condition. This way, the plant draws water from the leaves and roots, avoiding the heavy concentration in soil moisture for roots to absorb.
  • Sugar water hardly works on mature plants.

Take note: The use of sugar water as a gardening technique is a viable option only when specific plants face growth difficulties and every other method refuses to work. Also, remember always to balance sugar water applications with plain water to reduce possible adverse effects.

Tips for Watering Plants with Sugar Water

Below is a summary of what to keep in mind with using sugar water to water all your plants; indoor or outdoor plants:


  • You can choose to boil the sugar in water or still stir it in cold water. The bottom line is to ensure it dissolves completely to make the syrup.
  • Only use sugar water in damaged, dying, withered plants.
  • While watering, it would be best to pour from the top. This way, the syrup touches the leaves, trickling down to the roots.
  • Ensure you water the withered plant three times a week until it fully recovers


  • Avoid spraying sugar water on healthy plants as this will hinder proper growth.
  • When your plant recovers, stop watering it with the sugar water anymore. Continuous sugar water watering will lower the plant’s osmotic potential.

Wrapping Up

While this is a great and easy gardening tip, it would be best to avoid it together. The only way to ensure you do not get to this point of watering with sugar water is by providing your plants with sufficient basic needs for proper and healthy growth: water, sunlight, and nutrients. Besides, the right temperature and protection from severe and harsh environmental conditions are also necessary for your plants.

Using fertilizers and growth boosters would be ideal alternatives to save your dying plant or boost its slow growth. Other than that, it won’t hurt to try this sugar water gardening hack precisely as mentioned above. Happy gardening!

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