Curious gardeners have experimented with different methods for growing healthier plants for years. Some of these experiments are based on experience and fact, others are based on questions and ideas, while some are based a little on both. Replacing water with pickle juice for plants is one method that falls into both of those categories. Pickle juice, a salty brine used to give pickles their flavor, contains various substances that are beneficial to plants. However, it also contains various substances that are known to harm plants.
Photosynthesis is a biological process all plants complete daily. This process creates energy needed for growing, storing food and producing flowers or fruit. A plant takes in sunlight and carbon dioxide through its leaves and water through its roots, which are the ingredients needed to complete photosynthesis. If any of the necessary ingredients are missing or inadequately supplied, photosynthesis becomes interrupted. When photosynthesis stops, the plant is damaged and eventually dies.
Water is one of the ingredients used in pickle juice that is beneficial to plants. As stated earlier, water is necessary to complete photosynthesis. Water also keeps plants hydrated, strong and able to withstand heat. Plant roots are designed to take in as much pure water as possible as quickly as possible to facilitate good health. Plants are better able to process pure water as filtering out impurities takes more of the plant's time and energy. Distilled water is extra purified making it most efficient for plants to process, while pickle juice contains other ingredients used to flavor pickles that could damage a plant's overall health.
Salt is another primary ingredient added to make pickle juice. Salt dissolves in the pickle juice solution, becoming liquefied. When the salt in pickle juice is poured over plant roots, the roots take in the salt along with the liquids it dissolved into. Salt is a desiccant, meaning it draws moisture out of things. When a plant takes salt in through the roots, the salt begins to dehydrate the plant from within. Salt also decreases the amount of water plants are able to take in, as it is recognized as an impurity by plant roots. Roots take their time absorbing salt water, filtering out salt as best they can, reducing the plant's overall water intake and leading to dehydration.
Vinegar is perhaps the most recognizable ingredient in pickle juice as its tangy taste makes it noticeable. Vinegar is useful in the garden, though it is not always beneficial to plants. Vinegar applied directly to unwanted plants kills them quickly and effectively, as its acetic content is hazardous to plants. When very diluted, however, vinegar solutions applied to the soil of plants that prefer acidic soil raises soil pH and helps the plants to thrive. The vinegar in pickle juice is polluted with salt, making that vinegar useless for the health of plants.
- Estrella Mountain Community College: Photosynthesis
- Vanderbilt University Health Psychology Home Page: Pickle Juice
- Professor's House: Watering Plants with Distilled Water
- Mad Science: How does saltwater affect the plants on land?
- Vinegar Tips: Garden
- University of Illinois: Q & A: Vinegar, Plants, and Soil pH