How Does Salt Water Effect Plant Growth?

If enough salt accumulates in the soil and into the root zone, it may dehydrate the plant and impede plant growth. Water with a high concentration of salt can prevent the roots from absorbing water from the surrounding soil and may cause stress to the plant.

When a plant is exposed to saline water, it either withers or just adjusts to the salt water by controlling the plant's growth within unfavorable territories. Most plants, especially agricultural crops, stop growing or grow little when too much salt is present. An excess of salt water can also reduce the soil's permeability, prevent water infiltration and cause surface crusting. Plants in the desert and in semi-arid climates, however, have adapted to the high-salinity soil present in their environment. They are able to thrive despite the arid climate and the saline desert soil. The same goes for plants thriving in coastal and seaside areas.

Salt is a necessary component of soil, and salt such as potassium and nitrate are nutrients essential to plant growth. They are commonly integrated into the soil through fertilizers, mineral weathering and irrigation waters. When the water evaporates, a certain amount of salt is left behind and accumulates over time. When the soil is irrigated, the relatively high amount of salt turns the water into saline water, which can then adversely affect plant growth.