The Effect of Sugar on the Growth of Minnesota Native Plants


Sugar compounds dissolved into the soil can have disastrous results that can be difficult to remedy. Many gardeners know of the rumor that sugar dissolved into irrigation systems will help plants grow, which is untrue. Sugar can be potentially lethal to plants when applied in large amounts. Native Minnesota plants are equally susceptible to the damage done from sugar.

Native Minnesota Plants

Minnesota is well-known for having one of the most diverse plant populations in the country. Some distinctive species of grasses and rare flowers are only found in this state. Flowering plants such as colored asters, wood lilies, strawberries, baneberries, starflowers, milkweed and wild licorice are found in this habitat. A number of spruce, pine, oak, birch, maple and fruit trees also grow here. All plants found in Minnesota can be potentially killed from the application of processed sugar.


All plants require large amounts of the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to thrive. These are the main components of most fertilizers; along with proper sunlight and water, they fulfill a plant's nutritional requirements. Unnecessary compounds such as sugar can lower a plant's natural defenses and leave them more susceptible to environmental threats.


Sugar created by plants to be used for food is not the same sugar that most people purchase from the store. Sugar compounds created by photosynthesis are used to help plants grow and reproduce. Processed sugar for human consumption is bleached and processed in laboratories before being placed on the shelves. These processes make these types of sugar hazardous for plants.

pH Levels

Dissolved sugar will disrupt the pH balance in the plant's soil and block the plant's natural ability to absorb nutrients and water through its roots. This will starve the plant over time. Sugar also retains moisture, which promotes fungal growth and attracts harmful insects.


Processed sugar stimulates the growth of microorganisms that reproduce in the soil near the plant. Microorganisms help plants absorb water and nutrients but can become stressed from sugar, making it much more difficult for plants to receive the nourishment they need. Long-term complications such as nutrient deficiency and root rot are often the result of sugar in the soil.

Keywords: alternative gardening troubleshoot, plant nutrition facts, sugar water gardening

About this Author

Jonathan Budzinski started his writing career in 2007. His work appears on websites such as eHow and WordGigs. Budzinski specializes in nonprofit topics, as he spent two years with Basic Rights Oregon and WomanSpace. He has received recognition as a Shining Star Talent Scholar in English while studying English at the University of Oregon.