There are many things we may have heard when it comes to growing our plants, and one odd statement you might come across is that cigarette ash is helpful for plants. But cigarettes are bad for the health, it may leave you wondering how that works! While manure, kitchen scraps, and other composts are great for soil as a natural fertilizer, is cigarette ashes good for plants or a complete myth?
Unfortunately, there are mixed reviews on this, making it a bit confusing as to whether or not you should do this method. Before you do, I did the research to help answer your questions, so read on!
Are Cigarette Ashes Good for Plants?
With all the debate online, most gardeners and experts agree that cigarette ashes are NOT good for your plants.
But where did the idea of cigarette ashes start anyway?
Ashes of cigars and cigarettes are leftovers from the carbon in paper and tobacco when it burns. Some of the ash would be made up of calcium and potassium, which are beneficial nutrients to plants. BUT, there would also be nicotine residue, among other residues from the production process of the cigarettes, which do NOT do plants good.
Adding to the nutrient content of cigarette ashes, there isn’t much to begin with for plants to feed on. There is about 1%, or even less of that, of calcium and potassium found in cigarette ashes. Sure, every little bit counts, but the other potentially hazardous contents of cigarette ashes can worsen your plants’ growth than make it better.
Another benefit cigarette ash is said to do on plants is that its nicotine is toxic to pests, shooing them away. The idea here is to spread some ashes around the plants to prevent the unwanted insects from coming in and making your plants their home. Sure, this isn’t a bad idea… But what happens when winds from open windows will blow ash all over your room and into your plants?
So with that in mind, what are the bad effects of cigarette ashes for plants?
Other than what I mentioned above, one of the biggest disadvantages of cigarette ash on your plants and soil is the risk of the Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV). This is a virus found on tobacco products, which is harmless to humans but dangerous on plants.
Even after smoking cigars, the virus may be present in ash, being resistant creatures. When you place ashes on plant soil, the virus might move to your plants.
These are the symptoms of TMV:
- Yellow and/or dark green mosaic patterns on the leaves
- Deformed and/or scrunched leaves
- Yellow and/or green veins
While the virus may not kill plants directly, it would cause stunted growth. Your plant won’t be able to recover from it, as the virus would negatively affect their photosynthesis, meaning your plants won’t be able to make enough food for themselves. In time, the inability to produce food would cause it to die.
While your plant dies, the TMV won’t, moving to other plants that will be planted on the same soil the infected plant was on.
Still Planning to Use Cigarette Ash?
And what if you do plan to use cigarette ash?
Adding them to your soil is only effective if the cigarette has been completely burnt. If not, then the nicotine from unburnt cigarettes can poison your plants, even causing a mosaic virus that is very dangerous to plants.
To nourish your plants with a few nutrients that ashes have, be sure to burn all of the tobacco and remove the nicotine before doing so. And yes, this is complex, which is why I advise against doing this!
Furthermore, you may want to stick to tobacco ashes instead. As I mentioned, cigarette ashes may be okay for certain houseplants, but you would much rather feed them better plant food sources to nourish them for improved growth.
And if you’re wondering what to do with cigars and cigarette ashes, just dispose of them in the trash once it has cooled off completely.
Moving on, there are other kinds of ashes that can help with your plants’ growth and development. For instance, wood ash can help indoor plants, as they have certain nutrients that are beneficial for indoor plants, except for houseplants that prefer soil acidities that are at least 6.5 pH.
Other types of ashes include plant ash, rice hull ash, and corncob ash. However, these are beneficial only to certain plant varieties, so be sure to learn more about your plants and their nutrient requirements before trying them.
Wrapping It Up
To sum it up, cigarette ashes may be okay for certain houseplants, but since they have very low nutrient content, you might as well choose other sources of plant food instead. And of course, we all know about the effects of smoking, which can detriment human and plant health. While it may be effective, it’s best to keep your plants away from cigarette and tobacco ash, and it also may be time to quit the habit as well for your sake.
I hope that this article answered your question, “are cigarette ashes good for plants?” Now that you know the answer, do be sure to debunk other facts and myths on plant growth and development before following trends and statements.