Can You Water Plants With Wine? (Will They Live or Die?!)
Just recently, I suddenly remembered one time when I saw a morning show host showing how he would water plants with white wine once a week. I found it intriguing (to say the least!) since I’ve never heard of anyone else ever doing it before. Is there any good in “wining” your plants or is it all just nonsense?!
Plants must not be watered with wine. Doing so can be very detrimental because even though wine contains alcohol, the sugar in it can promote fungal and bacterial growth which can easily lead to plant death. Only diluted hard liquor solutions can inhibit rapid plant growth when desirable, as with fast-growing houseplants.
The chemical makeup of wine may lead you to think that it can somehow enhance your plants. However, you’re about to make a grape mistake! (Get it?) Anyway… Scroll on to find out why you should not give your plants wine!
Is It Safe to Water Plants With Wine?
It is not safe to water plants with wine as its high sugar content can attract various pests that could cause serious damage. Furthermore, sugar will provide food for harmful bacteria and fungi that can develop in the soil and eventually kill the plant.
Even when growing wildly outdoors, it’s not rare for plants to come into contact with different natural alcohol compounds.
Purposefully watering plants with alcoholic beverages—whether they’re grown at home or outside—can lead to a variety of consequences for you and your beloved plant babies.
It doesn’t matter if you have a succulent like aloe vera, a foliage houseplant like calathea, or a showy flowering plant like a rose bush. Most, if not all, plants can be damaged by wine.
To be more specific, wine—despite containing at least 10% alcohol—will do more harm than good to your plants no matter what others may tell you. Mainly, the issue lies with all the sugar you’ll find in it.
Here’s the deal, though: the sugar content of wine can be as high as 20%!
Although I couldn’t find any research directly comparing the effects of watering plants with different types of wine, I think they’d have a relatively similar negative effect on vegetation.
But sweeter varieties like rose may show negative effects faster as it is generally sweeter than white and red wines. They may attract pests such as ants and fruit flies.
You can expect the same results if share a bottle of beer with your plants, or any other fermented drink. It can get seriously sick and stinky or quickly die within a few days.
Why Do Some People Think That Wine is Good for Plants?
There are 3 main reasons why some gardeners may mistakenly conclude that wine is good for plant growth: 1) sugar content, 2) tannin content, and 3) low pH.
Let me explain further!
1. Sugar Content
Because of its sugar content, some inexperienced gardeners think that wine may promote plant development.
Why, you might wonder? Well, remember that plants normally have to go through the process of photosynthesis to produce their own food—sugar.
So others think that giving plants wine is a good shortcut. As I’ve already discussed earlier though, it clearly isn’t.
Moreover, wine won’t help revive sick plants. If anything, it will only make things worse.
2. Tannin Content
Wine, specifically red wine, contains tannins from fresh grapes and the aging process used for making wine.
Other than giving well-aged wine a more complex but desirable flavor profile, tannins also have protective properties against the growth of detrimental bacteria.
Hence, some have come to believe that wine is great for plants due to the anti-bacterial property of tannins. But the opposite is true due to all the sugar wine can have.
3. Low pH
Wine typically has a low pH value ranging between 3 and 4.
The hypothesis that some gardeners have is that watering a plant with wine will help improve its nutrient uptake by making its soil more acidic.
Honestly, there is some truth to this notion—which is why many fruits and vegetables do well in slightly acidic soil. I’ll talk more about this later on.
But again, such practice can become an issue with wine’s high sugar content.
What Will Happen If You Water Plants With Hard Liquors?
Hard liquors including gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskey can restrict plant growth when diluted to a solution containing only 4–8% alcohol. This may be desirable for keeping plants, especially those grown as houseplants, more manageable.
Unless you’ve got tons of strong full-spectrum grow lights at home to make sure that all your houseplants can flower, many won’t do so—especially in the absence of a southern window.
Experiments done on this matter have shown that properly diluted hard liquor solutions can efficiently slow down the growth of plant stems and leaves of flowering plants.
But the shoots of these plants stay upright, not drooping out of their pots.
What makes things even more interesting is that the flowers of plants such as daffodils and paperwhites stay fragrant and colorful even when their growth is stunted by up to 50%!
Do you want to test this out yourself? Then, mix 1 part 80-proof hard liquor with 7 parts water to get a diluted solution containing only 5% alcohol.
You can get similar results by diluting 1 part 70% isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol) with 10–11 parts water.
Solutions containing 10% alcohol can cause serious plant stress while those with 25% alcohol and over will surely lead to rapid plant decline and death.
Discover other ways alcohol can be useful for plants!
Use Old Empty Wine Bottles to Water Your Plants (2 Ways)
Instead of using wine to water plants, their glass bottles can be used to 1) water plants while the owner is away and 2) serve as a self-watering container for various plants including herbs.
Each one may fit different situations better. But if you have the time and patience to do so, why not try both methods?
Just to be perfectly clear, you should drink any leftover wine in the bottle and clean it properly before starting any of these projects.
1. Automatic Plant Irrigation
By simply poking a hole—or a couple—through the cork fitted into your wine bottle’s mouth, you can make a fuss-free drip irrigation system for your plants that will keep their soil moist.
This is great if you need to leave for a few days, even a whole week, for vacation or a business trip and you have no one else to water your plants in your place.
Just make sure to first test and observe how fast and steadily the water will drain from the punctured cork before leaving. You may also opt to attach a watering stake like the one below from Amazon.
For smaller potted plants, especially those that prefer relatively dry soil, a beer bottle should do the trick.
2. Self-Watering Planter
If you’ve got more time and energy to burn, you could also up-cycle your old empty wine bottles—or any other glass bottle, really—into a self-watering planter.
However, I would advise you to wear thick working gloves and maybe even a pair of safety goggles in case the glass shatters while you try to cut it.
First, mark where you want to cut the glass. Make sure that the bottom half is still tall enough that the neck of the bottle won’t be touching the very bottom when fitted inside it.
Then score that line with a glass cutter. After that, gently heat the glass bottle along the scored line with a candle or kitchen torch. Run it after cool tap water to make it crack from the temperature shock. You may need to repeat this a few times for a clean break.
Once you’re done, smooth out the cut edges with some sandpaper, and voila! You’ve got a cheap but sturdy self-watering planter.
Is It Okay to Water Plants With Carbonated Water?
Some evidence suggests that watering plants with plain, sugar-free carbonated water at room temperature can promote overall plant growth and increase fruit yield by 16%.
Also called sparking water or club soda, carbonated water without additional flavorings and sugar has been shown to improve the growth of plants in terms of mass and height.
If you want to conduct your very little experiment at home, you can use plain Perrier or make some with a soda stream.
Use it at room temperature or let it slowly warm up with some sunlight to avoid having your plants, especially seedlings, go into temperature shock.
Studies have also shown that plants given carbonated water became more drought-resistant as having excess CO2 in soil decreases the rate of water evaporation in plants.
Improved plant growth and increased yield may also be attributed to the fact that carbonated water makes soil slightly more acidic for up to 5 days after irrigation.
Lowering the soil pH can affect which and how much nutrients are absorbed by the plant’s roots. Nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, and boron become more available with carbonated water.
Can Soda Help Cut Flowers Bloom for a Longer Time?
Sodas, like 7-Up and Sprite, can help keep cut floors blooming for a longer time when diluted in water by 1:3 and a few drops of bleach. The water and sugar in them help cut flowers stay alive while bleach prevents bacterial development.
After big holidays and events where flowers are up for display and gift-giving, like Valentine’s, it would be a shame to let such magnificent blooms wilt away quickly.
Check out the perfect flowers for dates!
Stop this from happening by adding some soda to your vase filled with water.
More specifically, experts recommend mixing 1 part of a citrus-flavored soda mixed with 3 parts of clean water and some drops of bleach.
This soda solution can help cut bouquets stay fresh, even without its plants’ well-established root systems!
Sugar in the soda keeps the cut blooms fed, water helps it remain hydrated, the acidic component in citrus sodas helps the water travel up the cut flower, and the additional drops of bleach keep it all safe from bacterial growth—which is to be expected due to the sugar.
Consider snipping an inch from the bottom of their stems every 3 days or so for extra precaution against harmful microbial development.
Does wine kill weeds?
Despite the fact that wine can act as a herbicide and kill weeds in lawns and gardens, it is not recommended as doing so can make the soil quality poor. The excess sugars introduced to the soil all around plants can also lead to their death directly through alcohol toxicity or indirectly by attracting various damaging pests.
Is wine a good fertilizer for plants?
Though it contains some essential plant nutrients including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese, wine is not a good fertilizer for plants—regardless of whether they’re grown indoors or outdoors. The possible harm from the alcohol and sugar content of wine easily overpowers the potential benefits of feeding it to plants.
Summary of Can You Water Plants With Wine
Wine should never be used to water any kind of plant. While its alcohol content may be useful for gardeners, in theory, its sugar content will attract all sorts of damaging pests. This also promotes the growth of damaging fungi and bacteria which can be deadly for the plant.
Diluted hard liquor solutions with more or less 5% alcohol can be used as a safe and effective growth inhibitor for rapid-growing houseplants. There is also evidence that carbonated water can improve plant development and yield. Lastly, cut flower arrangements and bouquets can live longer with a diluted solution of citrus soda and bleach.
- “Why tipsy flowers don’t tip over: Booze stunts stem and leaves, but doesn’t affect blossoms, study finds” by Susan S. Lang in Cornell University
- “Fact or Fiction?: Vodka and Citrus Sodas Keep Cut Flowers Fresh” by Ciara Curtin in Scientific American
- “The Effect of Alcohol on Plants” by Jeremy Nicholson in Sciencing
- “Applications of Biotechnology to Fermented Foods: Report of an Ad Hoc Panel of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development” by J. Maud Kordylas in National Center for Biotechnology Information
- “Field-Grown Tomato Response to Carbonated Water Application” by R. Novero, D. H. Smith, F. D. Moore, J. F. Shanahan, and R. d’Andria in Wiley Online Library
- “Bubbly Soil: The Effect of Carbonated Water on Plant Development” by Kelsey Speer, Alec Sheets, and Jenny Swinton in Undergraduate Science Journals