How does salt water affect plant growth ? It’s not salt which is the problem, it’s too much salt. All living things on Earth need some salt. But too much salt is poisonous to plants, just as it is to animals, such as ourselves. Presence of too much salt impact on the plant’s appearance, hydration and growth.
When there is too much salt in the soil, which happens if it is regularly flooded with sea water or salt water or if poor land management leads to salinization, then plants take too much in through their roots and too much gets into their tissues that is, into the cells of their roots, stems and leaves. This excess salt interferes with the chemical reactions in cells which the plant needs to make food and to grow. As a result, the plant’s growth is stunted and the plant may even die.
Osmosis is the procedure in which water absorption through semi permeable membranes happens at high concentration levels. Semi permeable membranes pertain to tissues found in the plant roots; from there, water will be transported to an area with much lower concentration levels. Fresh water, along with vitamins and minerals found in the soil, flow freely to the roots and up to the stem, leaves and other parts of the plants distributing the nutrients effectively. When salt is present in the water, it tends to play tug of war with the roots. The roots pull in the available water while the salt pulls out the water. After regular exposure to too much sodium, plants will shrivel and die.
While most living things need some salt, too much of it can be toxic. This is true in plants, although some can withstand sodium and are more salt-tolerant than others are. Salt is a nutrient than can be absorbed by the plant. When an accumulation of sodium happens, it can severely alter the chemical composition, thus resulting to nutritional imbalance.
As we have discussed how osmosis works, sodium can have a negative impact on plants, sometimes confusing the caregiver. The plant life affected with an over-abundance of saline will have indications of drought (wilted brown/yellow leaves); yet, water will be obviously present in the soil. Even if the soil is damp, the plant cannot absorb required water and nutrients due to the saline present, which is pulling the moisture from the roots, thus leading to dehydration.
When plants are exposed to too much salty water, they have a hard time completing the osmosis process. They spend too much energy playing tug of war with the salt, pulling in as much water as they can – in short, they have to fight for moisture. Because of this, they put in lesser energy into making leaves formation and flowering; as a result, they may not produce or grow as well.