sugar and water solution
Organic Gardening

Tip of the Week: Does Sugar Water Help Plants?

gardening tips

There are lots of remedies on the internet for plants, but do they really work? One of those remedies is using sugar water. Picture this – you’re strolling through the garden when you see wilting, dying plants. Your heart sinks as you see your once-vibrant flowers and vegetables lose their vitality. But as any dedicated gardener knows, the journey isn’t always smooth, and challenges can arise unexpectedly.

Quick! What do you do? Ah, a quick Google search will tell you exactly what to do and find sugar water.  Yes, you read that right! Sugar water, the sweet elixir from your kitchen, can come to the rescue of your struggling garden. Let me take you through this journey of revival, step by step.

This post is all about ‘does sugar water help plants’.

Understanding the Science Behind It: Does Sugar Water Help Plants

Before we get into the practical details, it’s essential to understand why sugar water can be a game-changer for your wilting plants. Plants require two primary components to thrive: sunlight and water. But did you know that sugar, in the form of glucose, plays a crucial role too?

Photosynthesis, a process that enables plants to convert sunlight into energy, requires glucose as a building block. When a plant is stressed or weakened, it may struggle to produce enough glucose, hindering its ability to photosynthesize effectively. But will adding sugar to your plants actually help them?

Does Sugar Water Help Plants Grow

There is quite a bit of mixed information about whether sugar water helps plants grow. Some sources say there is no scientific evidence that sugar water can help with plant health, and may in fact harm or even kill the plant. The sugar water may even attract pests that you’d rather not have in your garden.

Other sources, like the University of Minnesota Extension’s blog post ‘Can Sugar Water Help My Lawn or Garden?’ says that it may help, but you may need to still fertilize your lawn or garden. Many products commonly used in agriculture are sugar-based. The sugar doesn’t contain essential nutrients that the plants still need. Instead the sugar can be an added food source for microorganisms in the soil. The plant itself will not be able to uptake or metabolize the sugar if it’s directly fed. 

The idea behind adding sugar is that it is adding a food source for soil microorganisms. The soil microorganisms then consume this sugar (which is mostly carbon), and in the process, mineralize nitrogen or other nutrients making them plant available. These products are sometimes marketed as carbon food sources or stimulants.

These sugar-based products are more common in agricultural systems. Most often they are more complex sugars from products like molasses, and used as a liquid starter supplement or fertilizer at or near planting. There are some published reports in agricultural systems about molasses-type products resulting in a plant response through an increase in soil biological activity.

Trappe, Jon. “Can sugar help my lawn or garden?” University of Minnesota Extension, May 2023, Accessed October 15, 2023.

Since there’s a mixed consensus about this actually helping, maybe we should conduct an experiment and see how it works for ourselves.

sugar and water solution

Water Plants with Sugar Water Experiment: Creating the Sugar Water Solution

There is mixed information about whether sugar water helps plants. However, it seems that giving sugar water to a plant just to give a boost wouldn’t do any harm. This would not be something that would be recommended for everyday use. We can try it out for ourselves and see what happens.

How to make the sugar water solution is really simple:


  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 gallon of lukewarm water


1. Start by mixing one tablespoon of granulated sugar into a gallon of warm water. Stir well until the sugar is completely dissolved.

2. You can use a watering can to apply this solution to your plants, ensuring that the soil is thoroughly soaked. Be careful not to drench the leaves, as this can lead to fungal issues.

3. Water the plants when they look wilty or dying.

What to You May Expect from Sugar Water

After applying the sugar water solution, you may notice the following:

Improved Resilience 

Your plants will become more resilient and better equipped to handle stressors like drought, pests, and diseases.

Greener Foliage

The leaves will regain their vibrant green color, indicating healthier photosynthesis.

Increased Blooms and Fruits

Flowers will bloom more abundantly, and fruit-bearing plants will produce a more bountiful harvest.

A Word of Caution

While sugar water can work wonders, it’s essential not to overdo it. Too much sugar can attract pests and harm your plants. Let’s take a look at some other disadvantages to this practice.

While using sugar water for plants can be beneficial in some situations, it’s important to be aware of the potential drawbacks and disadvantages:

Pest Attraction

One significant drawback of using sugar water is that it can attract pests like ants. Ants are drawn to the sweet solution, and their presence can disrupt the ecosystem in your garden. They may even protect aphids, which can damage your plants.

Fungal Growth

Sugar water left on plant leaves can create a sticky residue that promotes the growth of sooty mold and other fungi. This can hinder photosynthesis and overall plant health.

Unbalanced Nutrition

While sugar provides a quick source of energy, it doesn’t contain the essential nutrients that plants need for long-term growth. Relying solely on sugar water may lead to imbalanced nutrition and limit your plants’ overall health.

Overwatering Risk

Regularly applying sugar water to your plants can increase the risk of overwatering, especially if you’re not adjusting your watering schedule accordingly. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other root-related issues.


If you use sugar water too frequently, your plants might become dependent on it. They may not develop natural resilience and adaptability to environmental stressors.

Not Suitable for All Plants

Sugar water may not be suitable for all types of plants. Some plants may benefit from other fertilizers or nutrients more effectively.

Soil Quality

Sugar water doesn’t address underlying soil quality issues. If your soil lacks essential nutrients or has pH problems, sugar water alone won’t solve these problems.

To mitigate these disadvantages, it’s crucial to use sugar water sparingly and in moderation. Consider it as a temporary solution to provide a quick energy boost to struggling plants rather than a long-term strategy. Additionally, maintaining good gardening practices, such as proper watering, soil amendment, and pest management, is essential for overall plant health and vitality.


In the journey of gardening, we all face moments of despair when our beloved plants seem to be on the verge of giving up. But sometimes the simplest solutions can bring them back to life. If you find yourself in a situation with dying plants, don’t lose hope! Give sugar water a try, and watch as your garden blooms back to life, one sweet sip at a time.

Happy gardening, my fellow plant enthusiasts, and may your garden be forever vibrant and thriving!

This post was all about ‘does sugar water help plants’.

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