Is beer good for plants? After all, beer is mostly water with carbohydrates and yeast, so what is the big deal if plants get some of it? While it is true that beer is mostly water, which helps promote plant growth, using leftover beer on plants may not be a great idea because it only contains simple sugar, yeast, and contains alcohol.
So, is beer good for plants or does beer hurt plants? What are other reasons that adding beer to a plant’s diet isn’t a great idea? What does beer consist of exactly? Can you add beer to a compost pile, which can be part of an organic fertilizer option for your garden soil? Can beer help deter bugs away from your garden plants?
Here is the complete guide about using beer on indoor plants and your outdoor garden.
What is Beer Made out of Exactly?
According to Renegade Brewing, beer consists of water, hops, carbon dioxide, barley, a small amount of protein, and beneficial bacteria yeast. Most beers consist of over 90% water, and there is a breakdown between hard and soft water when making this drink. Finally, outside of those main ingredients, breweries and DIY beer enthusiasts can always add additional ingredients to give their cup of beer a different flavor.
What Do Plants Need to Grow Healthy and Strong?
While plants need sun and water to grow healthy and strong, they also need nutrients. These nutrients are calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. While beer has some calcium and other nutrients, the product is mostly water, so people think adding old beer directly to plants is good.
Why Do People Think Adding Beer is a Good Idea to Houseplants?
People say adding beer is a great gardening tip hack because it is 90% water. Along with the water, beer also consists of yeast, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and carbohydrates (simple sugars), which plants could benefit from these components. However, studies have shown that adding beer to plants is, at best, neutral, which means you are wasting your time and money.
Check out the study made by Cornell Chronicle that shows what beer and other types of alcohol did with plants. At best, alcohol did stunt the growth of stems but did not affect the daffodils’ flower size. At best, is beer bad for plants is more in favor than if beer is good.
Don’t Plants Thrive on Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates that you find in beer are simple sugars. According to Royal Queen Seeds, plants don’t directly absorb sugar. That means that the simple sugars from beer don’t add any long-term benefit to the plants. Instead, plants utilize complex carbohydrates in the soil, so adding liquid beer to the mix won’t help anything.
Can You Add Beer to a Compost Pile for Fertilizer?
Adding stale beer to a compost pile can work great for your organic fertilizer. The liquid from the beer can help keep the pile wet and moist, and the simple sugars and yeast will break down the other materials in the compost bin. Adding the beer to the other organic material in your compost bin is probably the best thing you can do if you want to give your plants some beer without directly giving it to them.
Common elements to add to your compost pile include eggshells, tea bags, tea, coffee grounds, wood ash, and banana peels. Adding stale beer to this mix can be excellent plant food for indoor plants and outdoor gardens.
Why is it Better Not to use Beer Directly on Plants?
While you may be an avid beer drinker, your plants will have other ideas. Here are some reasons to consider not using beer on your plants.
It is Expensive to Use
It doesn’t matter if you buy craft beer, cheap beer, or brew your own; using beer to water your plants will always be more expensive than water. If you want to water plants, using beer wouldn’t be a great option, even though it is mostly water.
Instead, if you are looking for cheap DIY ways to provide additional nutrients to your plants, you have better options at home. Consider using banana peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and tea. If you must use beer, add it to the compost pile to help break down those organic structures.
Beer Contains Alcohol
According to Sciencing.com, putting ethanol on plants will stunt their growth. If you want to promote healthy plant growth, then putting beer on the plant-soil will do the opposite. The more direct alcohol that a plant absorbs, the further harm you will do to promote new growth.
Beer Only Contains Simple Carbohydrates
Beer only contains simple carbs, not complex carbs. Simple carbs work the same as they do with people, where they give a burst of energy, but they are not sustainable. If you were thinking of using beer to promote growth, you should stick with regular fertilizer.
Beer Contains Yeast
The yeast that is part of beer might, in theory, will be good to give to plants. However, putting yeast on top of the soil can cause it to smell bad and even harm the material.
Can Beer Help Deter Pests Away from Your Plants and Garden?
While pouring beer directly on plants or the soil won’t help much, you can leave leftover beer outside next to your plants to create a fruit fly trap. The beer will attract bugs like slugs, fruit flies, and snails away from your garden, which can be a quick and easy way to stop these pests from invading your garden.
Conclusion: Is Beer Good for Plants?
In summary, putting beer directly on plants doesn’t help them in the way you might think. While beer mainly contains water, and plants need water, those benefits stop there. Beer contains yeast, which can cause issues with the plant soil, and have simple carbs, which don’t provide long-lasting benefits to plants. Not to mention that putting alcohol on a plant tends to slow growth, generally the opposite outcome you want. So, in quick summary, “does beer hurt plants” tends to be more accurate than not.
However, while there isn’t much benefit to putting beer directly in your plant soil, you can put stale beer into your compost pile. The leftover beer can keep the compost moist and help break down organic matter. If you have a party with leftover beer, consider putting some into your compost mix instead of down the drain.
Finally, beer, outside of compost, can also act as a way to deter bugs from attacking your plants. You can leave leftover beer outside your plants to stop these bugs from latching onto your plant to create a fruit fly trap. However, if you ever think “is beer good for plants,” the general answer is no.