If you’ve looked at recipes for compost tea, you might have spotted people recommending that you add molasses. This might seem a bit strange, but this substance can have many benefits to your soil.
From the nutrients present in it as well as the beneficial properties of its sugar, you’ll find that molasses can be a great addition to your organic gardening endeavors.
What is Molasses?
This substance is a byproduct of sugar production. It is what gives brown sugar its distinctive color and flavor. There are a few types on the market, but you only want unsulfured blackstrap molasses.
Blackstrap has more nutrients that will boost plant energy and encourage growth. If you can find dried molasses, this is much easier to use for gardening.
Can Plants Use this Sugar?
Plants can’t take up the complex sugars in molasses as is, but they can take up what microbes in your soil break it down to.
Remember, plants make their carbohydrates when they photosynthesize. The sugar from molasses will help your soil by feeding beneficial microorganisms that pass on important nutrients.
You can also add it to your compost to increase the amounts of nutrients it has and give a similar boost to those that compost starters offer.
Garden Benefits and Uses
Horticultural molasses has many benefits for plants and organic garden use. The liquid form is mainly added to water or liquid fertilizers to make them a bit more nutritious.
The dried version can be sprinkled to benefit soil and compost. You don’t need to add it more often than any other fertilizer treatment.
If you’re adding it to the soil generally, you only need to do so once a year, and twice if your soil is very poor.
1. Improving Soil Health
Healthy soil is the foundation of a good garden. By making sure your soil provides all the nutrients your plants need, it can make for a rewarding gardening experience.
Harmful pests will target weak or sick plants, but keeping plants healthy can help prevent many infestations.
Potassium, which this substance contains, is essential to healthy growth. If lacking, you will notice lethargy as well as plants that can’t handle the cold or poor weather when they should have been just fine.
Keeping helpful microorganisms alive will allow them to break down nutrients from molasses to a form your plants can use. This product can help both by providing nutrients as well as sugar that helps feed these microorganisms.
Molasses is high in potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and other important micronutrients. Adding it as fertilizer to your soil helps your plants gain more nutrients.
Combining it with liquid plant fertilizers or compost teas can also boost the nutrients they already have. It adds extra iron, which produces chlorophyll.
The extra potassium also strengthens the plant’s abilities to fight diseases and improves crop yield. Many recipes for liquid fertilizers already include molasses as an ingredient.
Some gardeners have also had good results using molasses for tomato plants. It gives the plants a boost of energy and makes tomatoes sweeter.
Other plants that benefit from molasses include melons, cannabis, peppers, and eggplant. However, it works best on eggplant, melons, and peppers when it is diluted with milk.
To make molasses fertilizer, mix 2 tablespoons with one gallon of water. Apply once a week by pouring it on the soil or spraying onto plant leaves.
You can also mix it with Epsom salt to make a homemade fertilizer that will improve plant root health and aid in the production of more flowers. Just combine 2 tablespoons of liquid molasses with 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt and 2 gallons of water.
Let the mixture dissolve and use it to fertilize your plants.
3. Add to Compost
The sugar in this product is great for feeding beneficial bacteria.
You can add it to your compost to help start it. Adding it occasionally will also help encourage good bacteria to stick around.
Dried molasses is the easiest to use here — just toss a handful in your compost pile occasionally. You can also add a small amount of the liquid form to water and sprinkle this in.
4. Add to Water
To mix molasses with water for your plants, combine 2 tablespoons of liquid molasses with a gallon of warm water. This recipe makes a good mixture as the ratio is generally 1-3 tablespoons per gallon of water.
Feed the solution directly to the soil around individual plants or spray it over a large acreage in addition to your regular waterings. Plain molasses water will give your plants an extra boost of energy.
How often should you apply it to your plants? In addition to regular fertilization, apply molasses water to plants every two weeks.
5. Pest Control
Molasses can be used as a natural insecticide. Just 1.3 mL in one liter of water makes a great insecticidal foliar spray that won’t harm your plants or any animals that visit your garden.
Ingesting the product will disrupt their digestive system by drawing water from the gut’s surrounding tissues, dehydrating, and killing them.
Besides, by spreading 5 to 10 pounds (dried product) per 1,000 square feet of lawn or garden bed, you can help control pests like grub worms or nematodes. It will also keep out animals like moles and armadillos that eat grubs.
6. Weed Control
Molasses can help control difficult-to-control weeds like dallisgrass.
For this molasses spray recipe, use one cup in a gallon of vinegar or water and then spray the solution over the crown of the plant.
The mixture increases microbial action that prevents seeding and breaks down stubborn root systems.
Why Dried Molasses?
Dried is easier to handle and use for agricultural purposes than liquid form. The liquid is very sticky and can be hard to measure.
The dried stuff has all the benefits of the liquid in a much easier-to-handle form. You only need about ¼ teaspoon for most compost tea recipes. This means it should last you a long time.
Where to buy molasses for plants? You can find it in both dried and liquid form online or in some gardening stores.
Now that you know how to apply molasses to plants, don’t be afraid to give it a try. It can be a great addition to your gardening routine.