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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Willow woes in Philadelphia, NY
August 22, 2010 - I have a 2 yr old willow; it is August and it looks like the tree has gone dormant, is this normal?
view the full question and answer

Problems with dogwood tree in Jacksonville FL
February 28, 2010 - Sir, I believe I have a Cornus drummondii, a stiff dogwood tree on my lawn which a few years ago was big, lush and full of branches and leaves. In the last 2 years I have noticed about 80% of it drop...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native photinia in Austin
October 07, 2013 - Hi, I live in Cedar Park, TX (Austin Suburb)and have planted a number of Photinia shrubs in various areas of my property. All about 10 months old. The leaves are curling along their length on many...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Ashe juniper from Lakeway TX
May 25, 2013 - Dear Sir/Madam, I have been living for the last three years in Lakeway, Texas approximately 20 miles west of Austin. In my back garden there are several ashe junipers about 15-20ft tall. However...
view the full question and answer

Leaf drop from maple tree in Minnesota
August 15, 2008 - I have about a 30 ft maple tree in my yard, last fall I trimmed it pretty good because the branches were getting low where you could not walk under it or get grass to grow. This is the 2nd time in abo...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center