Creating your own houseplant fertilizer may sound like a complicated science experiment, but it is actually incredibly simple to do and uses things you already have around the house anyway.
Furthermore, it is a more natural and environmentally friendly way to provide your houseplants with essential nutrients.
It’s easy to fertilize houseplants by using leftover kitchen waste that might otherwise be thrown away.
There are a variety of easy homemade fertilizers you can use to give your plants a healthy nutritional boost:
- Crushed eggshells for lowering acidity and adding calcium
- Banana peels for adding potassium
- Used coffee grounds for adding nitrogen
- Green tea for acidifying the soil
- Molasses for adding macronutrients like carbon, iron, sulfur etc.
- Epsom Salts for adding magnesium and sulfur
- Wood ashes for increasing the alkalinity of soil
- Gelatin powder for a nitrogen boost
- Used cooking water for a general dose of essential nutrients
- Corn gluten meal for extra nitrogen
Homemade plant food is safer, more cost-effective, and environmentally friendly than chemical fertilizers that you can buy at a store.
Here are some easy ways to ensure your indoor plants get the nutrients and properties they need to thrive so you can create your own DIY all-natural plant food.
Organic Fertilizer Versus Synthetic Fertilizer For Houseplants
One of the key differences between a natural homemade fertilizer and chemical fertilizers found in stores is that the natural ones tend to be organic.
Natural homemade fertilizers often contain nutrients sealed away inside organic matter. Unlike chemical fertilizers bought in the store, which are usually highly refined mineral concentrates, homemade fertilizers are typically made from natural organic matter.
It is the soil microorganisms that break down the roots of plants into their mineral components so that they can absorb nutrients from the soil.
The idea behind natural homemade fertilizers is to feed soil microbes, not directly the plant roots. So home-made fertilizers will deliver nutrients more slowly to your houseplants.
Understanding The N-P-K Ratio
If you want to know how to fertilize your houseplants, you need to know what the NPK ratio means, and what it does to them.
Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are the elements that make up the nutrients NPK. There are different kinds of nutrients required to sustain healthy plant growth, but nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are considered the “big 3.”
Generally, fertilizers with a higher nitrogen content than potassium and phosphorus are most frequently used for plant growth that is rapid in its early stages, bushy plants, or ornamental foliage, such as Monstera or Elephant Ear.
The phosphorous in commercial “blooming” fertilizers often contains a high amount of phosphorous to promote floral displays. Phosphorous in commercial fertilizers is essential for root growth and flower production.
Similarly, potassium helps the plant grow indirectly by enhancing hardiness and water efficiency. It is responsible for root formation, promoting growth, and increasing water retention. Potassium deficiency leads to slower growth and yellowing leaves.
Top 10 Household Items To Fertilize Houseplants Naturally
Having a complete understanding of the nutrients, their sources, and how they contribute to fertilizer preparation is extremely important.
Here’s how you can provide these nutrients and others to your houseplants, using natural materials found around your home:
It is important for the plant to be able to manufacture its own new cells, and therefore for the overall growth of the plant.
The calcium in eggshells is also high, along with trace amounts of other elements like nitrogen and zinc.
The best way to use eggshells as a plant food is as a fertilizer. Rinse the shells first to reduce the likelihood of mold.
Using eggshells as fertilizer for houseplants is the easiest option. Simply freeze them with about a whole carton worth.
In order to make shell powder, you can use a coffee grinder to grind shells, or you can crush the shells with a rolling pin inside their freezer bag.
If you are planting in a pot, you can mix eggshells right into the soil, or you can incorporate them into the soil surface of an existing plant.
Always be cautious when working the soil with a living plant in order not to disturb its roots.
Bananas are not only delicious and nutritious for humans, they can also offer good fertilization to be perfect for growing roses.
The first method is to infuse water with banana peel nutrients and then add it to your plants for better growth. Making banana peel tea is another way to amend soil. Saving old banana peels for a few days will allow the peels to infuse the water with nutrients.
It is possible to prepare the banana peels by pureeing them in water and using them as soon as possible.
It is also possible to add banana peels to the soil surface by cutting them into pieces, however this is most commonly used outside.
Used Coffee Grounds In Houseplants
You can add used coffee grounds to your indoor plant’s soil to boost nitrogen, which helps it flourish and grow strong foliage. Used coffee grounds are especially useful in the case of acidic plants, such as fruit bearing plants, begonias, African Violets, and roses.
You can use prepared coffee grounds to fertilize your garden in two ways. The first method is to apply them as a top dressing. It is best to allow the grounds to dry before spreading them thinly over the soil to prevent mold.
Alternatively, you can also make a liquid coffee ground fertilizer by soaking the grounds for a week in water similar to banana peels. The water will have nitrogen infused into it so that you can feed your plants with this.
The use of green tea leaves or green tea bags is another excellent way of fertilizing acid-loving plants like those above.
In addition to containing tannic acid, green tea leaves are high in nutrient concentrations and help oxygenate the soil, which in turn encourages root growth.
Plants can be fed a mix of green tea bags to 2 gallons of water once every 4 weeks to increase their strength and health. The water should be not too hot before being given to the plants. Use green tea leaves as compost or work them directly into the soil surface.
Molasses in Blackstrap has been used as a proven miracle worker in making homemade organic fertilizers for plants, which has been grandfathered into the organic fertilizer industry.
The brand-name organic fertilizers are usually quite expensive, but molasses can be made into organic fertilizer easily at home.
The mineral content of molasses is rich in carbon, potassium, calcium, manganese, potash, magnesium, iron, and additional nutrients. Additionally, molasses feeds the beneficial microorganisms that live in the soil.
This nutrient-rich compound is commonly used in compost teas, where it gives the microbes brewing within the tea a sugary boost. This promotes growth and a diverse ecosystem in the soil.
A variation of this method is to mix molasses with other organic fertilizers such as epsom salts and alfalfa meal in four gallons of water, then use the mixture to water plants.
If you are adding other composts or natural fertilizers to your garden, you are unlikely to need Epsom salts because these minerals are likely not lacking. Therefore, Epsom salts may not be needed if you are adding additional magnesium or sulfur.
A healthy green color is derived from magnesium, which is the building block for the chlorophyll molecule. Magnesium is one of the ingredients that make up the chlorophyll molecule. If a leaf lacks magnesium, the green turns yellow along its edges and between its veins and the oldest leaves will usually show early signs of yellowing and deformation.
Plants that suffer from magnesium deficiencies can be treated with Epsom salts to restore their chlorophyll levels and healthy green color. Herbs, peppers, or tomatoes are some of the plants more susceptible to magnesium deficiencies.
Burnt wood ashes are a safe and easy method of raising the pH of potting soil, effectively increasing the alkalinity.
Additionally, wood ashes are a good source of potassium, calcium, and phosphorous, all of which are beneficial to plants.
The best solution to add to your soil isn’t the same for everyone, just like epsom salts are not suitable for everyone.
The mineral should only be used in certain situations or the alkalinity could already be high enough to harm the plants.
The pH of the soil should be below 6.5 for wood ash to be beneficial for your plants. Anything above 6.5 could be harmful to the plants. A pH test will determine if wood ash can be added to your potting soil.
It is possible to raise the alkalinity of your soil by simply scattering the ashes on top of it as a top dressing, then gently working it in.
Water immediately after digging and avoid disturbing the roots. Don’t dig too deeply.
The right amount of nitrogen is essential to the growth of healthy plants. Gelatin powder is an easy way to provide a small boost of nitrogen, which will help your plants grow strong and healthy foliage.
This is especially helpful for plants such as elephant ears or Monstera, whose leaves tend to be large and attractive.
The recommended dose of gelatin is one 7g packet dissolved in 1 quart of water.
The powder is usually dissolved in 1 cup of hot water first, then in 3 cups of cold water and applied directly to the soil about once a month.
Used Cooking Water
Many essential micronutrients such as phosphorous, nitrogen, and calcium are released into the water when pasta, vegetables, or eggs are boiled.
You can use cooking water to water your plants for a variety of reasons. It is a free source of nutrients that would otherwise go down the drain, and it will encourage the soil to hold onto nutrients and retain water.
Ferns and umbrella plants prefer moist environments, so this is ideal.
Corn Gluten Meal
It is a byproduct of the wet-milling of corn and is highly nitrogen-rich. It is commonly used as a pre-emergent herbicide.
This means that corn gluten meal can harm seeds during germination, but it won’t harm plants once they’ve been established.
Even plants with plenty of foliage will benefit from the gentle nitrogen boost provided.
Corn gluten meal is applied as a top dressing to the soil, and it should be gently scratched into the soil to incorporate it.
If you want to disturb the roots, you need to do this two weeks after germination. Corn gluten meal should be used sparingly, but not too much.
The Benefits Of Using Homemade Fertilizers For Houseplants
You can make your own natural houseplant fertilizer at home for a number of reasons:
More affordable. Most commercial fertilizers are extremely expensive, especially the brand name ones. When you consider the organic or more natural commercial options, the cost is even higher. But we should not compromise on health and safety just to stay within budget.
Safe and Gentle. Often, less is more when it comes to fertilizer. Chemical fertilizers can be overfertilized, which leads to burning and damage to the plants. Homemade fertilizer often has a more “slow release” approach, which means burning and damage is much less likely.
Environmentally Friendly. Most of the organic material used in homemade fertilizers is biodegradable, and reusing something makes it feel good to know you can do something positive with it rather than throwing it in the trash.
Although making your own homemade fertilizer may sound intimidating at first, you can see in the following guide just how easy it is. With this information, you are now confident in making fertilizer at home for your plants. They will thank you for it!