Using Molasses for Plants in Your Garden: A Complete Guide

Gardening and growing healthier, more nutritious plants can be a rewarding experience, and one of the best ways to do this is by using molasses in your garden. Molasses has long been used for many gardening purposes due to its versatility and the various benefits it offers.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to apply molasses, explore the microbial benefits you can gain from it, and understand how using molasses as an organic fertilizer or compost tea can help enrich your garden.

With a better understanding of how to use molasses in your garden, you’ll be able to transform your soil into something full of life and vitality in no time!

Blackstrap molasses
Blackstrap molasses

Molasses is a tried-and-true secret among the plant-growing community because it works. Molasses, when added to soil, helps enrich the environment so plants grow easier, but it also works as a natural pest repellent.

It’s full of calcium, phosphorus, and B-6 and a cost-effective method to yield any crop, especially if you’re growing your own tomatoes or other fast-growing plants. That’s why if you’re looking for high phosphorus fertilizers, molasses should be at the top of your list.

Keep reading for more information on how to use molasses in your garden.

How to Use Molasses for Plants

Sugarcane grown for molasses
Sugarcane grown for molasses

Using molasses on your plants is a great way to provide nutrients to them like calcium and iron while also having an all-natural way of keeping pests away without the use of chemicals.

Using molasses on plants is quite simple. Using unsulfured blackstrap molasses is key since it will provide the most to your plant.

From here, you add ¼ to ½ cup of molasses to every gallon of water you use, and then you can apply the molasses to your plant. You can simply pour it on the soil, however, we recommend using it as either a spray or adding it to your drip system.

You can even spray directly onto your leaves, as well. Your plant will be able to easily absorb the nutrients no matter how you introduce the molasses to your plants.

You can also use molasses as part of a compost tea. This will mix with other ingredients to provide a nice fertilizer that provides a great amount of nutrition to your plant which allows it to grow and stay healthy.

Why Use Molasses on Your Plants?

Many plant experts agree that using molasses is an easy way to supply nutrients to your plants that can easily be absorbed by roots and leaves. Also, the sugar in molasses feeds microorganisms that reduce the risk of bacteria and fungi growth. This helps provide a more symbiotic relationship between these microorganisms and the roots of your plant.

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Molasses is also a cost-effective fertilizer and chemical-free insecticide, making it a popular tool for plant growers, both starting out and seasoned. If you’re looking for a great, cost-effective way to fertilize your plant while also having an organic insecticide, you should consider using molasses.

How Do You Prepare Molasses for Plants?

Preparing molasses for your plants is really easy. When adding molasses to your plants, you don’t just pour on the molasses. Its thickened nature makes it hard for plants to absorb anything from it. No, you have to prepare it first.

In order to prepare your molasses for use on your plants, first, you have to dilute it using water, milk, or liquid fertilizer. From here, you can then add it to your plant, either by pouring it onto the soil, spraying it, or adding it to your drip system if you’re feeding your plants that way.

No matter how you introduce molasses to your plants, it’s a great way to provide them with extra nutrients.

Applying Molasses as a Soil Spray

Spray bottle fertilizer
Spray bottle fertilizer

One way molasses can be added to a plant is to be used as a soil spray. Use anywhere between ¼ to ½ a cup of molasses in 1 gallon of water. This will dilute the molasses enough that it can be sprayed.

From there, spray the soil as a way to add nutrients to it. You also use this spray directly on the leaves of the plant for a similar effect. It’s not as effective as spraying directly onto the soil, but the leaves will soak up the nutrients just the same.

Either way, it’s very easy to apply molasses to your plant in order for it to reap its benefits.

Using Molasses in Compost Tea

Compot tea bag
Compost tea bag

Before you click off of this page in disgust, no you don’t drink compost tea, nor should you. Compost tea is basically a liquified version of solid compost and is a great way to deliver nutrients to a plant’s roots.

You can enhance your compost tea by adding molasses to it. Adding molasses to your compost tea helps provide the necessary nutrients while also making it a natural bug deterrent. If you don’t have molasses on hand, you can also use maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey for a similar effect.

Nutrients Found in Molasses

There’s a handful of nutrients found in molasses. While iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium are going to be the main ones you’ll focus on for plant growth, molasses also contains manganese, copper, vitamin B-6, and selenium.

All of these can benefit your plants in a number of ways. It’s why you must prepare your molasses properly to ensure that your plants can absorb all of these nutrients. These nutrients also help your plants grow strong and healthy.

Benefits of Using Molasses as a Fertilizer for Your Plants

There are a few great benefits to using molasses as your plant’s fertilizer. First, is that it’s rich in minerals and micronutrients. This includes iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, all of which help a plant grow and stay healthy.

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Since you can have molasses in the soil or sprayed onto the leaves of the plant, it’s also very easy for the plant to absorb those nutrients, as well.

Molasses isn’t just a great fertilizer. It can also act as an all-natural, chemical-free insecticide. It not only helps with insect and disease control but can keep away additional pests, making it a great way to keep the pests away.

And with it being chemical-free, you can get rid of pests without having to worry about harming your plants or the environment in any sort of way.

And lastly, it’s a great, cost-effective way to eliminate chemicals from your plant growth process. Since it doubles as both a great fertilizer and insecticide, you can save even more by having one substance doing the work of two, and all of it being organic and chemical-free.

It’s also cheaper than most fertilizers and insecticides. You’re going to save a lot of money by using molasses as your fertilizer.

Drawbacks of Adding Molasses to Your Plant’s Soil

Yes, there are many benefits to using molasses in your plant’s soil. But, as with anything, there are also some drawbacks you should be aware of, too.

First and foremost, adding too much molasses to your plant’s soil can negatively affect the soil’s pH level by making it too acidic. This is because molasses has a higher sugar content, so it ends up making any soil it goes too acidic, especially if used incorrectly.

To combat something like this from happening, you need to dilute your molasses first before adding it to your soil. Use up to 3 tablespoons of molasses for every gallon of water. If you don’t have water handy, you can use milk or liquid fertilizer instead.

Diluting the molasses first isn’t just good for the soil, but it can help ward off unwanted pest infestations. Just adding straight molasses to the soil will attract pests.

How Does Molasses Change Soil pH?

At its core, molasses can increase your soil’s microbial health. Microbes help to prevent soil erosion and conserve water. Microbes found in soil ultimately create a nutrient-rich environment for plants to grow, with molasses also increasing the benefits.

However, not all changes are positive. As we said, molasses can change the soil, however, when used inappropriately it can make it more acidic. Like the yogurt we consume, soil has “good” bacteria. “Good” bacteria help promote plant growth.

So, when sulfured molasses is added to soil, it eventually destroys all the “good” bacteria needed to help the plants grow successfully.

This is why, if you’re new to using molasses, you should use unsulfured molasses – a kind of molasses that’s made from pure sugar cane. This is the most common form of molasses and the one most commonly sold in stores, so you shouldn’t have any problem getting this yourself.

Will Molasses Attract Ants and Other Pests?

Red ants on a leaf
Red ants on a leaf

Since syrup attracts ants, it’s normal for beginner plant growers to wonder the same thing about molasses. The answer is that no, molasses will not attract ants and other plants.

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But maybe not for the reason that you think.

See, ants and other bugs can’t really digest the type of sugar that’s found in molasses. As such, their organs essentially have their organs crushed from the inside once they do digest it.

While this is, indeed, unpleasant, it’s good news for plant growers looking to keep away those pesky bugs such as thrips, aphids, fungal gnats, fire ants, and lace bugs.

However, keep in mind that molasses will ONLY detract pests if it’s properly diluted first. Remember, add three tablespoons of molasses for every gallon to create an effective insecticide. Like bone meal, you want to make sure you’re using this ingredient sparingly.

Can I Mix Epsom Salt or Other Mineral Buffers with Molasses?

Yes, you can mix low nitrogen fertilizers like Epsom salt with molasses. In fact, it’s actually recommended you do so to create your own natural fertilizer.

The reason why is that they work well with one another. Whereas molasses contains high amounts of potassium and nitrogen (which plants need to survive and thrive), Epsom salt naturally bolsters healthy roots. Combined, they’re a total force to be reckoned with.

To create your own fertilizer with Epsom salt and molasses, grab a watering can and fill it with 2 gallons of water. Then, add a tablespoon of Epsom salt and two tablespoons of molasses. Mix together until fully dissolved. Then, add it to the base of your plants and you’re all set.

Can Molasses be Used as Insecticide?

Is it possible that something that is used as a fertilizer can also be used as an insecticide? Yes, molasses can be used as an insecticide for the same reason it can be used to detract ants and other unwanted bugs.

Pests undergo a whole life cycle in your soil, from laying eggs to the new generation’s reproduction. So when you add molasses to your soil, it ultimately raises the sugar content on the plant sap. Bugs don’t like this.

But, when they inevitably digest it, they’ll get infected with bacteria, and those that don’t perish will ultimately migrate to another area.

While using sugar with plants is nothing new, some studies, as outlined by Nebraska Extension Entomologist, Bob Wright,“…documented the increase of beneficial insects in fields and plots treated with a sugar-water solution, suggesting application of this solution as a biocontrol method for reducing pest populations.”

In other words, molasses, in this context, is used as a biocontrol method. It’s worth noting that there are some varying degrees of insight regarding the use of molasses with plants, especially in the scholarly community, but that’s mainly because there hasn’t been extensive research done on this subject.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been looking for cost-effective, easy ways of promoting healthy plant growth, molasses is the perfect ingredient. Just follow these tips, and you’ll well be on your way to yielding successful garden crops.

Brock

Brock is the head gardener and writer behind Bigger Garden. Every year you can expect to see something new in his raised beds, from purple broccoli to cotton candy peppers.

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