DON’T DO THIS with Apple Cider Vinegar on Plants (TOP TIPS)
Seriously, is there anything that apple cider vinegar (ACV) can’t do? This wonder liquid adds a zing to cooking, you can drink it with mother to keep your gut flora in check, and now you can even use apple cider vinegar on plants and in the garden! The question is how can you use it without hurting your garden?
In this article we’ll explore the many ways you can use ACV on plants and in your garden. More importantly, we will discuss HOW NOT TO use ACV on your plants. Regrettably, making these mistakes can lead to irrecoverable damage to your plants, weakening your plant and leaving you frustrated and disappointed.
So before you start adding apple cider vinegar to your garden, make sure to read this article to the end to understand the correct way of using this super fluid.
Mistakes to Avoid When Using Apple Cider Vinegar on Plants
BEFORE we get into the benefits, we feel it is important to understand the mistakes that can occur with apple cider vinegar in your garden.
Don’t Kill Your Plants Accidentally
As a vinegar, apple cider vinegar is highly acidic in its natural form.
When vinegar comes into contact with a plant, it dissolves the cell membranes in a plant’s leaf. This results in extensive damage and immediately begins to disintegrate the plant.
Shortly after application, you should see a reaction from the plant. Your plant’s leaves will begin wrinkling and curling. Your plant will also begin to wilt or droop as the damage weakens your plant.
To avoid this mistake, ALWAYS make sure you dilute apple cider vinegar before you add it to your plants and garden.
VERY IMPORTANT – always dilute Apple Cider Vinegar before applying to your plants!
Unless of course – you intend to kill plants (like weeds), but more on that in our benefits section later.
Wrong pH Levels
You may or may not be aware that the pH level of your soil will impact on the health and growth of your plants.
For those new to gardening, soil pH is an indication of whether your soil levels are acidic or alkaline. The pH (potential hydrogen) is the measuring unit.
- With a pH of 7 indicating a neutral soil environment – neither acidic nor alkaline.
- Acidic soil conditions are present when pH levels are between 1 – 6.9.
- Alkaline conditions are indicated when pH levels read between 7.1 – 14.
As an acidic solution, apple cider vinegar can change the pH levels of the soil. Some plants thrive in acidic conditions (another benefit to be discussed later). However, other plants will struggle to draw nutrients from acidic soil, and eventually weaken and die.
Therefore, before you start sprinkling apple cider vinegar around your garden, we recommend doing a bit of research up front. Find out which plants like acidic soil versus the alkaline loving plants.
It would be devastating knowing your damaged hostas or lavender (alkaline plants) could have been prevented with a bit of research online.
Benefits of Using Apple Cider Vinegar on Plants
Okay, that’s enough on mistakes – let’s get onto the good stuff. What are the benefits of ACV for your plants and garden?
Apple cider vinegar has so many applications in the garden we could write a book on it. We won’t bore you with that though! Instead, we’re going to summarize our favorite tips and tricks on how we like to use ACV in our garden and plants.
Apple Cider Vinegar is a Great Fertilizer for Acidic Plants
From our little science lesson earlier, we now understand that apple cider vinegar is an acidic solution. Which is perfect when we want to create an acidic environment in the soil. Some examples of acidic-loving plants are:
- Rhododendrons (one of our favs),
- Camellias, and
- Japanese Pieris.
To create your own ACV fertilizer:
- add 10 ounces of raw unfiltered ACV (5% acidity) to 10 gallons of water. The more raw and unprocessed the vinegar is, the better it is for your garden soil.
- pour into a watering can and generously sprinkle around your plants that thrive in acidic soil conditions.
One of our best tips for using apple cider vinegar in your garden (and indoors) is for controlling pests.
For outdoor gardens, ACV is effective at deterring ants, slugs and snails from attacking your plants.
- Ants – don’t like the smell of ACV, and will avoid it like the plague. It disrupts their sense of smell and makes it hard for them to leave scent trails for the rest of the clan to follow. Simply mix ACV and water on a 1:1 basis and spray on ant trails and ant hills. IMPORTANT – do not spray this concentration on your plants. It is too acidic and will likely damage your plants.
- Slugs & Snails – spraying ACV on slugs and snails will instantly disrupt their alkaline base that helps them keep moist and stay alive. If you feel this is a inhumane way of killing snails and slugs, you can create an acidic ring around your plants by spraying the soil with ACV and water. This way when the gastropods come across the acidic soil, they won’t be able to cross.
Apple cider vinegar is just as effective as pest control for your indoor plants as well.
- Fungus Gnats and Fruit Flies – apple cider vinegar is one of the crucial ingredients in our DIY gnat traps that we make for capturing those pesky little flies. It is a great little trap that sends out a smell that is irresistible to these annoying pests. Once they touch the liquid, they become stuck and eventually drown. Check out the exact steps for making the DIY GNAT TRAPS.
Great as a Leaf Cleaning Agent
Another ingenious way to use apple cider vinegar is to clean the dust and stains (like hard water) from your indoor plants’ leaves.
When you water your plants with hard water, it can stain your leaves by leaving a build up of minerals when it evaporates. Hard water stains are notoriously hard to remove, but fortunately apple cider vinegar helps to break down the minerals.
We can hear you asking “HANG ON – didn’t you just say NOT to use apple cider vinegar on plant leaves?”
You are absolutely correct – using 100% ACV on your leaves will damage them beyond repair. Which is why we are going to use a diluted form of ACV.
To use ACV to clean your houseplant leaves:
- dilute one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with two cups of water (use distilled water if you are removing hard water stains)
- dampen a soft material cloth, like microfiber, and gently wipe down your leaves on the top and bottom.
- Use another dry soft cloth to dry your leaves.
For a detailed guide on cleaning hard water stains from your plant’s leaves, check out our step-by-step instructions HERE.
Clean Your Garden Equipment
With its acidic nature, apple cider vinegar also works as an effective cleaning agent for dirty garden tools, and pots. Especially for those tools that have caked on dirt and stubborn stains.
To clean your garden knick knacks:
- mix up a solution that is 1:1 of ACV and water in a large tub
- leave your dirty tools in the solution overnight to allow the vinegar to work its magic
- In the morning, pull your tools out and use steel wool to clean off the remaining dirty and stains.
Apple Cider Vinegar as Rooting Hormone
Did you know that raw organic apple cider vinegar is an effective rooting agent?
Because of its acidic nature, ACV is a naturally occurring pesticide and fungicide. It promotes environments that are inhospitable to disease and pests, which allows the cuttings to devote its energy to producing new roots.
However we recommend caution when using ACV as a rooting agent. In high concentrations, ACV is actually also a natural herbicide, and it will not only prevent rooting, but it will likely damage your cuttings.
To create a perfectly balanced rooting agent from ACV follow these steps:
- mix one teaspoon of raw organic apple cider vinegar with 6 cups of distilled water,
- dip the end of your cuttings into the solution, and
- plant your cuttings into high quality propagation soil.
Effective Weed Killer
As we established at the beginning of this article, when used at 100% concentration levels apple cider vinegar can be detrimental to plants.
But this effect can have some positive applications when it comes to getting rid of particular nuisance weeds in our garden. You can effectively use ACV as a natural weed killer, without having to use nasty chemicals from commercial products.
WORD OF CAUTION: Ensure you do not accidentally apply any raw apple cider vinegar to any of your precious plants. It could have some dire consequences. If the weeds are in a tricky spot, you can paint the ACV directly onto the leaves instead of spraying.
Apple Cider Vinegar on Plants – Closing Comments
Apple cider vinegar can either be your friend or foe when it comes to its use with your garden and plants. Understanding how it can be used in the garden is important to avoid making mistakes and damaging your plants instead.
Hopefully by reading this article, you now understand that apple cider vinegar can be an extremely effective tool to help you fertilize and cultivate healthy pest-free plants.