Gardeners often try various methods of fertilization to replace lost nutrients in soil and boost plant growth. Proper fertilization keeps plants healthy, helps them build and repair cells and encourages faster growth. Amongst some of the more unusual fertilizer treatments is using different types of beverages, such as Gatorade, as fertilizer.
Photosynthesis is a life process plants complete each day. This process helps plants store nutrients and create energy used for growth and development. During photosynthesis, plant roots absorb water and nutrients from the soil around them, while leaves take in carbon dioxide and sunlight. These ingredients are processed by the plant and put to use to keep the plant healthy and growing. If any of these ingredients are missing, photosynthesis is interrupted and the plant suffers.
Sugar is an ingredient in Gatorade, with the most common varieties including fructose, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and sucralose. Plant roots are designed to take in as much pure water as possible, as quickly as possible while absorbing water with impurities more slowly to filter out the impure substances. Plants recognize sugar as an impurity, therefore absorbing Gatorade at a slower pace than pure water. The decreased intake of water results in interrupted photosynthesis and slower overall plant growth.
Gatorade contains electrolytes to hydrate human bodies. One source of electrolytes in Gatorade is sodium from salt. The effect of salt on plants is most always negative. Salt is a desiccant, meaning it draws moisture from plants from the inside out. Plants recognize the salt in Gatorade as an impurity, absorbing Gatorade more slowly because of this. The salt in Gatorade works along with other electrolytes to the advantage of humans while those electrolytes do not have the same effect on plants. The amounts of salt plants manage to absorb from Gatorade dehydrates the plants from within, hindering growth.
Gatorade contains a number of beneficial nutrients for plants, including vitamin C, vitamin K, niacin, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. These beneficial nutrients are included in store-bought plant fertilizers. The effects these nutrients have on plants vary from protein production, foliage growth, fruiting and blossoming and increased plant health and growth. While other aspects of using Gatorade have negative effects on plants, this particular aspect of Gatorade is beneficial, but the negative effects of Gatorade on plants negate the positive effects of these nutrients.
- Estrella Mountain Community College: Photosynthesis; M.J. Farabee; May 18, 2010
- Self Nutrition Data: Gatorade
- Mad Science: How Does Sugar Water Affect the Growth and Development of a Plant?; David Hershey; February 6, 2001
- Gatorade: FAQ
- Mad Science: How Does Saltwater Affect the Plants on Land?; Keith McGuinness; January 20, 1997
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