Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Old oak tree dropping leaves in Hazlet Township NJ
July 08, 2013 - I am 84 yrs old and have a 50 year old pin? oak. No more acorns, but the leaves are falling in clumps and are still alive. Every day I fill a huge garden bag with them. I live on a fixed income and...
view the full question and answer

Pustules on geranium
March 28, 2005 - I have a geranium that has developed oblong red/brown pustules/raised bumps on the undersides of the lower leaves. The foliage around the bumps is stil green but everything else has yellowed
view the full question and answer

Problems with Live Oak in Boerne TX
April 24, 2011 - I had my large Live Oak trimmed last year. This spring there seems to be a problem with leaf growth. Most leaves are small in nature and appear to have been attacked possibly by bugs. Many of the bran...
view the full question and answer

Changing bloom color from Tulsa OK
June 27, 2011 - How do you change the bloom color?
view the full question and answer

Problems with Gregg's mistflower from Fredericksburg, TX
May 19, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Something is wilting the tops of my Gregg's mistflower, Conoclinium greggii. I cannot see bugs on the plant, so I am wondering if it's a disease. The problem is widespread to...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.