Is Sugar Water good for plants? Pros & Cons

Is Sugar Water good for plants?– Artificial sugar is of no use for any plant. Sugar is a complex carbon compound and plants can’t use it for any benefit. Sugar water can increase carbon content to soil for useful microbes. But it has many drawbacks that can cost your plants life.

Also, don’t misjudge sugar with molasses. Both of these are two different compounds. molasses contain sugar but itself is not sugar. So we are gonna discuss the Pros & cons of using sugar water in plants.


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What does sugar water do?

Technically, sugar water is responsible for a sudden change in the osmotic pressure. If the concentration of sugar in the solution is higher than the internal concentration, then water will be dragged out. Otherwise, the sugar solution will be absorbed and the plant will become more turgid.

A little bit of sugar can easily interfere with both indo-osmosis and exo-osmosis. It can create reverse osmotic pressure leading to water loss from root system. In simple words, Either your plant will wilt off or it will become hard as crunchy celery. The difference is related to the concentration of solution and the way to use it.

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Is sugar water different from molasses solution?

Yes, definitely it is. The sugar-water solution is completely different from the solution of molasses. Molasses is a raw extract from cane sugar. It contains enough potassium and phosphorus to feed your plant.

White sugar is just sucrose extracted from molasses. It is sweet and may be useful for us but our plants have nothing to do with this artificial sugar. In fact, plants have their own well-organized mechanisms to prepare sugar which is enough for their use.

Speaking about molasses, it is more useful for plants due to the presence of soluble nutrients. Overall both sugar and molasses have some pros and cons for garden application. It is just the way you use it. Don’t worry we will discuss those in the next topics. Keep reading.

Can a plant absorb sugar water?

Yes, A plant can absorb dissolved sugar. This is same as the plant absorbs fertilizers. I know there are a lot, really lots of videos and forums answering this as a no, but I tried it my self. Plants can absorb sugar solution.

The actual question is- can plants use this dissolved sugar? I think no they can’t. At least, not for any metabolic use. Some of you may think that sugar solution is used for cut flowers, isn’t it useful for the plant?

Think again, is the sugar solution being used by the plant for any personal benefit or just for the sake of our need. The use of sugar solution is helpful only to keep cut flowers fresh for a longer duration. This is nothing to do with the lifecycle of the plant and the flower it grows.

Concluding to the fact that plants can absorb sugar but is it helpful for them or not is a matter of discussion.

Is sugar water helpful to plant growth?

No sugar water is not helpful for plant growth. We already know that plants can absorb sugar water. Whether it is good or not is something we are gonna discuss now.

Let’s start with the basics, it is a well-known fact that green plants are autotrophs. It means they can prepare their food in the form of glucose.  This entire process of preparing food is related to a natural phenomenon called photosynthesis. This prepared glucose is sufficient to fulfill the plant’s need for sugar.

One important point to consider here is that chemically glucose is similar but not the same as sugar. Sugar is a complex compound, it is also quite difficult to decompose especially for the plants.

I think this is obvious to understand, plants don’t need extra sugar. So sugar water is not really helpful to plant growth.

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Can Sugar water kill my plant?

Now this is interesting 3 out of 5 times, sugar water is safe. I have tried this on more than 13 different plants and just 3 of those actually die.

So I think, Yes sugar water can kill plants but the chance of it hapening is very low. The actual result is dependent on many factors. Any of of these can change the final outcome. The rate of damage to any plant due to sugar water is guided by these important factors-

  1. Size of the plant
  2. Location of the plant
  3. Concentration of the sugar solution
  4. The ability of the plant to survive in adverse situations

The size of the plant is very important. Small plants are soft and delicate. They are more likely to die in adverse situation. Bigger plants or trees have more developed structure to maintain proper osmotic pressure. Therefore, they can easily survive some sugar water.

Plants grown in pots or containers have very limited space for their root system. The small quantity of soil and less room for roots creates a difficult environment for the plant growth. In this situation the sugar water is more likely to damage the root system. Abundance of soil can increase the viability of plant. It can also reduce the harmful effect of sugar water on the plant.

Third important factor is concentration. More concentration outside the root will cause reverse osmosis. This will result in excessive water loss from the roots. The plant will wilt and ultimately die. If this is not the case then the plant will absorb enough sugar to make it firm and hard. This situation is also fatal to the plant. In both cases the plant will dehydrate and loss of water will led to its death.

Some plants are genetically stronger than others. They are healthy and can survive difficult climatic conditions better than other. Sometimes plants native to rough terrain like desert or mountains can also stay strong against sugar water. Overall, strong healthy plant is more likely to survive in high concentration of sugar water solution.

Can sugar water increase fungal or pest attacks?

Yes, sugar water will definitely increase fungal and pest attacks. Ants, aphids, leaf cutters, gnats, powdery mildew, meleabugs and caterpillars, all of these are attracted toward sweet sugar water.

These insects and bugs are followed by excessive fungal attacks. In fact, plants damaged by these pest or bugs are more likely to be infected by fungal or bacterial diseases. Leaf burn or stem rusting is very common viral problem observed in plants damaged by sugar water solution.

Overall, the pest and fungal problem can be severe if the concentration of sugar in water is high. This is why I personally never recommend any one to use sugar water for the plant. Always remember your plant doesn’t need extra sugar.

Still if you want this to try then strictly avoid any contact with leaves and stem to the sugar water solution. Even few drops of sugar water can easily attracts 100s of ants and aphids. Sometimes the damage can be irreversible and your plants may die.

Read more: Common Succulent Problem: 6 Pests and their treatment

Pros & Cons of Using Sugar water in plants?

up to now we have discussed some very important questions about the use of sugar water in plants. Most of them indicates that it is not good for plant. So can we say sugar water is completely harmful for our plants? Most of you may think so but it is not that true.

Sugar water can be helpful to your plants, though it is quiet tricky to use. If you know How, when and where to use sugar water  then this can be a helpful easyto use gardening tool for you.

Lets see some Well known pros and cons of its application.



  • Sugar water can kill weeds and grass in your lawn.
  • It is useful in attracting microbes especially decomposers in the soil.
  • Sugar water can help in maintaining turgidity of soft plants during rainy days.
  • Sugar water can protect cut flowers for longer duration.
  • High concentration of Sugar in water can cause wilting to the plant. It is responsible for reverse-osmosis.
  • Sugar water can attract lots of harmful pest and bugs. This infestation can be followed by severe fungal and bacterial attack.
  • Sometimes sugar water can affect the ph. value of the soil. sugar water is ph neutral but after decomposition by microbes it will change the soil ph.

How much Sugar water can a plant Survive?

Use as much as 1/2 of internal solute concentration. In simple words if you add 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 gallon of water then its probably ok. But more than that can cause damage to you plants.

This is just like using chemical fertilizer. If you do more then it will damage the plant. In these situation less is always better.

Final Words

Every thing has its own pros & cons. Just like other garden materials, sugar water is also good for some reason while not so for others.  It is the way that actually maters. we use these materials just for good not the way others say. So I think sometimes sugar water is good for plants and sometimes not.

Is sugar water good for plant? what do you think? write your thoughts and suggestion in the comment section. I’ll be back with something new and interesting. Till then, Keep Reading Keep Gardening!


Hi, My name is Sukant. I am an I.T professional. Gardening for me is not just a hobby, it's a way of living life with nature. My Ancestors were Commercial farmers: So I personally feel attached to the green. I am not an expert, I'm here only to share my gardening experiences. It's always Refreshing.

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