Often used as a weed killer or cat deterrent, vinegar certainly does have its place in the gardening world however it can pose a serious threat to your houseplants and can kill them.
Vinegar can kill your plants if applied directly to them. This happens because the acidic properties of vinegar breakdown the cell membrane which leads to the plant losing moisture, drying out and dying.
How does vinegar kill your plants?
Normal household vinegar contains up to 5% acetic acid, this is very harmful to your plants. If you get vinegar on your plants it will begin to eat through the outside layers of the leaves, destroying the waxy cuticle and exposing the cells underneath. Part of the cuticle’s function is to stop the plant’s cells from losing water, when this has been taken away the plant will begin to dry out and lose moisture.
Vinegar will quickly destroy the leaves on your plant and if it gets into the soil within your pot it will also dry out and destroy the roots. This would leave the plant unable to be saved.
When vinegar is used in large quantities it can also alter the pH level of your soil. So if a plant has died because of vinegar and you decide to reuse that soil or plant something else, chances of that soil burning and drying out other plants or seedlings is very high. If this is the case it would be best to dispose of that soil.
Why would anyone use vinegar on their plants?
As mentioned before, there are some uses for vinegar in the gardening world which can be extremely helpful. As you know, vinegar can kill plants, so obviously it will kill weeds as well. It is a very common weed solution to spray them with vinegar as it is easy to do, every household will have it at their disposal and most of all, it is extremely effective.
If you’re going to use vinegar as a weed killer you must ensure that you don’t get it on any of the plants you would like to keep alive and to also keep it away from the soil surrounding those plants. As long as you can manage that, then by all means, use vinegar as a weed killer. I would much rather use a commercial weed killer that only targets weeds and not plants for a bit of added piece of mind knowing that my beloved plants will be safe. One of the best weed killers I have used can be found on Amazon here.
Vinegar, white vinegar in particular is also very good at keeping cats away as they cant stand the smell. Using vinegar as a cat deterrent is extremely popular because it is non-toxic to animals and children, the draw back is that it can be incredibly dangerous to plants. Our furry feline friends can’t resist plants at times and since they are so curious they will play with them and some also eat plants. A lot of people spray their plants with a vinegar solution as a deterrent for cats, this does more harm than good however. I mean sure, it will keep your cat away from your plant but that is because there will be no plant left to entertain the cat.
If you want to use vinegar to keep your cat at bay then try this instead, soak a towel in a vinegar solution and then wrap it around the base of your pot. This will keep cats away as it is the smell that they do not like but it also wont harm your plants because the acid isn’t making contact with them at all.
What to do if you get vinegar on your plants?
If you get vinegar on your plants, the most important thing to do is try to get it off as quickly as possible before the acid has time to harm your plant. To do this get a damp cloth and wipe the leaves and stems where the vinegar is. It is important that this cloth is damp, if you use a dry one it will only move the vinegar around to more parts of your plant whereas if the cloth you’re using is damp, it will dilute the vinegar so even if it does spread it wont be as harmful.
If you have vinegar in the soil, around the base or roots of your plant then it would be a very good idea to re-pot that plant into some soil with a more appropriate pH level. The quicker you do this the less time the acid has to harm your plant. It is very important to always water your plants after you re-pot them, this reduces stress and the plant will respond much better to its new environment.
So now you know the dangers of vinegar and how they can kill your plants. Vinegar certainly does have a purpose in the gardening world and you will almost definitely use it at some point or another. The important thing is to not get it on or around your plants. If you can do this then you will never have a problem with vinegar harming your plants ever again.