It’s essential for your houseplant’s health to have healthy soil, but you wish there were some ways to enrich it more easily. This way, you can provide aerating, well-draining, nutrient-rich soil to your houseplant so it can grow and thrive. Do such hacks exist?
Need Soil Aeration? Try Chopsticks
If you work too many hours or are tired from work and just don’t feel like cooking, Chinese food always comes through.
It may seem strange to mention Chinese food on a blog about indoor plants, but there’s a reason.
Get your hands on a set of chopsticks the next time you order Chinese takeout or sushi. They are a great way to aerate the soil of our houseplants.
There are many reasons why the soil can become compacted. If too much salt builds up due to fertilization, that can prevent water from reaching the roots.
It can do the same thing to the soil if it is allowed to sit in a pot for too long. It becomes hard and more compacted instead of loose, airy, and separated.
If you want to aerate your houseplant between repottings, chopsticks can provide a convenient alternate method.
In this case, you don’t want to just leave the chopsticks lying in the soil. Dig them in so they’re no more than a half-inch deep, then poke around once or twice. Repeat this until all of the soil is applied to the pot.
Simply moving the soil gently causes it to break up a bit so water can penetrate deeper. This keeps your roots fed but not waterlogged, and keeps your houseplant happy and healthy.
You can use a pencil instead of chopsticks if you don’t have any on hand. Just be careful not to get lead in the soil. Poke with only the eraser side.
Kitty Litter Provides Soil That Succulents Love
You can go for prolonged periods without watering succulents, especially in the winter, which makes them a unique indoor plant. From their firm, full leaves to their need for little water, growing succulents is different than normal houseplants.
The special soil created specifically for houseplants such as succulents is another key difference between them and other types of plants. You should only use this soil mix when growing cacti and other succulent species.
You may need to purchase regular potting soil for some plants and another type of soil tailored just for your cacti and succulents, which will not only be inconvenient at times, but also expensive.
For a little extra money, you can always make your own succulent soil, though it requires an unconventional ingredient: cat litter.
This is true, the same stuff that masks the scent of messes from your cat will also work on your houseplants. Keep in mind, though, that unused cat litter should always be used for this.
Furthermore, when you make your own succulent mix, the cat litter should have a clay base and not be scented.
Then you have succulent soil that will work just as well as many of the store-bought varieties. Just combine some cat litter with standard soil, and mix half and half.
If you don’t have a budget for a specially formulated succulent mix, this is a temporary fix, but will hold you over until next spring.
It is important to use well draining soil mix when growing succulents. Planting succulents in regular potting soil is one of the quickest ways to develop root rot.
No Slugs or Snails with Eggshells
Whatever your use for them, it’s difficult to live without at least a carton of eggs. You’re in luck, because eggs and houseplants are BFFs. Or at least, they should be.
Whenever you crack an egg, keep the shells. They do not have to be flawless; in fact, it is better if they are broken off into pieces that are easily managed. You’ll use them to fill in the soil of the houseplant that you have.
Rinse the eggs before putting them in an egg dish if you are concerned that salmonella might be transmitted. Why is this important? Eggshells contain calcium.
In addition to enriching the soil, eggshell calcium rebalances its pH. As you know, pH measures for acidity or alkalinity.
Alkaline soil has a pH above 7.0, whereas acidic soil has a pH that ranges from 0.0 to 14.0. Although you might think acidic soil would have a higher pH, it’s actually more alkaline.
Some houseplants, such as those I mentioned earlier, prefer a more acidic environment to grow. Others do not do well in a high alkalinity environment, so having a way to control pH is ideal.
Eggshells can not only neutralize pH, but also protect against unwanted slugs and snails that have similar shapes, which are slimy, firm, and almost jelly-like.
Because the bugs will not enjoy the risk of cutting their fragile bodies on jagged eggshells, they will head into another direction and away from your cherished indoor flowers.
Here’s another egg hack that’ll benefit your houseplant: next time you eat hard boiled eggs, don’t pour their boiled water down your drain. Instead, store it.
Since eggshells have boiled in this water, it has been soaked in calcium, so using it in lieu of regular water will cause a pH neutralization in your soil.
Eggshells and egg water together may alter the pH of your plant too much; I wouldn’t recommend that.
Use an Ice Cream Scoop When Adding New Soil
You are pretty good at repotting your plants when it’s time. Sometimes, that means taking the plant out of its current container and finding it a bigger one. In other cases, it just needs a fresh batch of soil.
Repotting always results in a mess, regardless of how thoroughly you clean it up. Whether you’ve been potting plants for years or just started, it’s inevitable.
If you’ve spent money on a small scoop or shovel for adding soil, and you do your best to go slow and be careful, you may stumble over large chunks of soil all over the place.
There is an easier way to enrich your houseplant’s soil next time. Instead of using scoops and shovels, use your hands instead.
Try digging through your kitchen drawers and finding your ice cream scoop instead. Yup, that’s right, your ice cream scoop.
You need to make sure it’s completely clean. Metal ice cream scoops are the best, since they hold the dirt in place without leaking or spilling.
If you have to use an ice cream scoop rather than a small shovel, it may take a little longer, but you’re less likely to make a mess, so there is less to deal with after your plant’s pot is replenished with soil.
You do not want to compress the soil so as not to make a mess. If you do decide to use an ice cream scoop, be careful not to push too hard on the soil.
Earthworms Are Your Friend
It’s not uncommon to want to keep pests, insects, and other critters away from your indoor garden, but this is not true with earthworms. Earthworms, unlike most bugs, don’t like eating your indoor plants’ leaves or roots, preferring instead to nibble on bacteria and decaying matter.
If these pests spit, they release an organic matter that is rife with valuable nutrients, like nitrogen; enzymes and minerals are also found in this organic matter.
There is no harm in putting a few earthworms directly into the pot of your plants. They will do their thing, and before long, the benefits will begin appearing.
Perhaps dropping bugs into your houseplant’s environment makes you feel a bit iffy. In that case, you can create a small earthworm farm that does not touch the houseplant. This farm can become a compost bin for the plants.
Compost can be triggered to break down faster by earthworms since they love decaying matter, so it has a higher level of nutrients as it decays.
It is a good idea to look out for castings, otherwise known as earthworm poop, if you plan on farming your earthworms in this way.
It is possible to put worm castings into soil without putting worms in the pot. This benefits your houseplant by nourishing the soil without having to put worms in the pot.