En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - August 22, 2011

From: Three Rivers, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Watering
Title: Watering Houseplants with Soapy Water
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I accidentally watered my house plants with a container that had a some dishsoap in it. Will they be okay? One of the plants is a 20yr old cactus, with small roots.

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants thinks your plants will likely be OK - - but you didn't tell us how much soap was used. 

So, we'll give you some examples of how soap is used on plants and maybe that will help you decide about your situation.

We're having a serious drought here in Texas right now and many of us are using grey-water to water our plants as a water conservation effort.  The plants are fine with this and some of them thrive on this  regimen.  Here's a conversation from Wiki-Answers where this is discussed.

At about the same concentration of soap, soapy water is often recommended as a natural approach for bug control.  Here are webpages from manipedia and evergrow where this is discussed. Mr Smarty Plants recently recommended soapy water for contolling Cochineal insects on Cholla Cactus and for Powdery Mildew control.

Larger concentrations of soap are used for opening conpacted soil and aiding water penetration.  Mr Smarty Plants has recommended soap for opening hydrophobic soil.

So - Your chances of the plants being OK are pretty good; perhaps you can remember these applications for soapy water for later use. 

 

  

 

From the Image Gallery


Cane cactus
Cylindropuntia imbricata var. imbricata

Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

More Watering Questions

Overwatering and fertilization of whiteleaf manzanita
July 27, 2007 - Hi, I have an Arctostaphylos Dr. Hurd, southern California coast, several years old, 10 feet, that has a few large branches with yellowing and spotted leaves... also dropping many. causes? remedy? sh...
view the full question and answer

Shy blooming non-native Crape Myrtle, in Littlestown Pennsylvania
July 25, 2011 - My Crape myrtle has been planted about three years, and reached a height of about 4'. It blooms late July and for the past two years, has only had one or two blooms on it. I have a lot of buds whic...
view the full question and answer

Patio plants suffering from heat in Austin
August 22, 2010 - My patio plants are burning up from the intense sun of Austin's August. Last year it even burned the leaves. Besides moving 40 plants to a shadier spot do you have suggestions on how to protect the...
view the full question and answer

Hollies not retaining leaves in Tulsa
August 10, 2008 - I have Little Red Hollies that have lost their leaves, some areas being bald. They are also not full - you can see through them. These were planted in this condition Spring of '08 and have been wat...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Carolina Laurel Cherry from Pflugerville, TX
September 02, 2011 - In 2007 we planted 7 Carolina Laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana)across our back fence. Everything was fine until this year. Three of the trees seemed to get sick and a local arborist said the roots ne...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center