Fertilizing our plants is an important part of the plant care regime, which is necessary for their growth. Our indoor plants need to be fertilized to grow to their full potential, and natural homemade fertilizers are an easy and effective way to feed your plants with essential nutrients.
Reuse natural elements like coffee grounds, vegetable peels, egg shells, etc., to create homemade houseplant fertilizer. These are everyday organic materials we use at home. They are cheap, help to reduce waste, are environmentally friendly, and are free from synthetic chemicals in commercial fertilizers.
In this article, we will discuss the advantages of using natural fertilizers instead of commercial ones. I will also share various easy DIY homemade fertilizer recipes for your houseplants.
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Natural homemade fertilizers
Homemade natural fertilizers are very beneficial for your plants.
Unlike chemical fertilizers, they are derived naturally, so they do not contain any chemicals.
They take time to break down in the soil, so their results might not be immediate but much more long-lasting.
These organic elements also improve the quality of the soil over time and make it richer and healthier for the plants.
They can be derived by recycling everyday kitchen waste to save a lot of your money.
So instead of throwing away your kitchen waste, you can use them to make nutrient-rich food for your plants.
The sections below will discuss some of the best homemade fertilizers.
Why do houseplants need fertilizers?
Plants absorb the nutrients they receive through the root system in the soil.
For plants in nature, the nutrients in the soil are constantly replenished by the organic elements decomposed in the soil.
But for plants grown indoors in containers, the scenario is different.
The organic elements do not get replaced naturally; thus, eventually, the soil gets dead and lifeless.
So unless growers add nutrients to the soil over time, the soil will continue losing its nutrients, and its effects are visible on the plant’s health.
In the case of indoor plants, access to minerals and nutrients is restricted to the potting soil.
Unlike outdoor plants, they cannot directly get access to the nutrients in the soil.
As you water your plants, the nutrients from the soil wash out of the pot through the drainage holes.
Thus, the container’s soil gradually loses its nutrition and richness and fails to deliver the plants the essential nutrients.
Best time to fertilize indoor plants
The best time to feed your indoor plants is spring and early summer.
This is because plants grow most actively during this time and need maximum nutrients.
In winter, the growth of most houseplants is compromised due to low sunlight and cold temperatures, which makes them dormant.
Fertilizing plants during this time can keep them unused in the soil resulting in root burns.
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Benefits of using homemade natural fertilizers
There are many advantages of using homemade fertilizers instead of synthetic ones.
Let us briefly look into them:
- Improves soil quality: These fertilizers, over time, improve the quality of the soil, increase drainage, enhance the ability to hold moisture, and encourage a microbial ecosystem.
- Safe: These organic fertilizers are not highly concentrated and take some time to decompose in the soil. Thus the risks of burning your plants or salt build-ups in the soil are not there.
- Environment friendly: They do not contain synthetic elements and thus are easily biodegradable and do not contribute to environmental waste. Additionally, it is also satisfying to create food for the plants.
- Affordable: Needless to say, you can get these plant foods by recycling the waste from your kitchen. You do not need to spend money separately to buy them from the market.
Risks of using chemical fertilizers
Chemical fertilizers are extracted and processed through industrial processes and, thus, are not naturally derived.
They are popular because they show quicker results and are easily available in the market.
But long-time usage of these fertilizers harms the plants and the environment.
- Environmental damage: Synthetic fertilizers are derived from non-renewable sources like petroleum and consume fossil fuels. When they get leached out, they are potentially harmful to the environment.
- Toxicity: The excess salts released from the fertilizers leave mineral build-ups in the soil, damaging the roots and plants over time.
- Plant burns: They are highly concentrated, so if you overuse them, they will burn the plants and make them sensitive. Thus it is very important to know their usage procedure.
- Soil quality depletion: These fertilizers deliver nutrients to the plants and do not improve the soil quality. So the soil eventually loses its organic matter and becomes lifeless and compact over time.
Best homemade fertilizers for indoor plants
These homemade fertilizers have a wonderful result on your plants and enrich the soil of your plants beautifully.
Let us now discuss the best homemade fertilizers you can use to feed your houseplants.
1. Banana peels
After eating bananas, we mostly throw away the peels in the trash bin, not knowing they are a rich source of potassium and small portions of nitrogen, magnesium, and phosphorous.
They take a longer time to decompose and benefit the plants largely.
You can use them on your plants in multiple ways:
- Banana peels can be directly mixed in the potting soil and given to the plants. You can also cut the peels into tiny pieces and mix them in the soil.
- Another way to use them is by making banana tea. For this, soak all the peels in a jar for someday. This will transfer all the nutrients from the peel to the water. Then add this to the plants like a liquid fertilizer. This makes it easier for the plants to break the peels down.
Banana peels provide nutrients to the soil slowly and keep the soil healthy for a long time.
Eggshells are a storehouse of calcium and help reduce the soil’s acid content.
They also contain phosphorous, zinc and nitrogen, and other minerals which are extremely good for houseplants.
If you want to use them for your plants, wash the shells properly and dry them.
Then crush the eggshells in a mixer to make a shell powder and directly mix with the soil or soak in boiled water overnight, make a liquid fertilizer, and water your plants with it the next day.
3. Worm tea
Worm farms are yet another great source of natural fertilizers for your houseplants.
In these, earthworms break down the organic matter, further decomposed by bacteria to create nutrient-rich compost.
These worms produce a liquid known as worm juice or worm tea used to feed plants.
Lay your kitchen waste, including fruits and vegetable waste, in your worm farm, and the worms will break them down and help them to decompose and make a liquid tea to feed your plants.
4. Cooking water
The water we boil our vegetables, eggs, pasta, etc., while cooking is packed with many essential nutrients for your plants.
They contain nitrogen, phosphorous, and calcium.
Remember to cool the water down before putting it in the plants.
It not only adds these nutrients to the soil but also helps to promote the storage of nutrients and moisture in the soil.
5. Coffee grounds
Coffee grounds contain an excellent source of nitrogen for plants and thus are widely used as a homemade natural fertilizer for plants.
It is recommended for foliage plants as it has lower portions of potassium and phosphorous.
Mix coffee grounds in water and soak for a week and water your plants with it, or use the coffee in compost to make it rich in nitrogen.
Coffee also increases the acidity of the soil and thus is very suitable for plants that like acidic soil, like the jade plant, ferns, African violets, etc.
6. Epsom salt
Epsom salt is a rich source of magnesium and sulfate, which keeps your plants thriving.
However, you should not overuse them.
Dissolve a teaspoon of Epsom salt in a liter of water or sprinkle some Epsom salt over the soil’s surface.
7. Green tea
Use the green tea bags in your home to make an excellent homemade fertilizer for acid-loving plants like begonias and African violets.
The tannic acid in the tea leaves lowers the soil’s pH level and possesses high nutrients for the plants.
Mix the green tea in water and boil it to make a nutritious fertilizer for your plants.
You can also use tea directly on the plants after cooling them or add them to the compost bin.
8. Fish tank water
If you have an aquarium at home, you have a rich supply of nutrients for your plants.
Water from the aquarium contains potassium and nitrogen from the waste of fish.
Using this water to water your houseplants is very good for plants.
When cleaning the aquarium, use the water to water your plants.
This water is also beneficial because it removes toxins like chlorine and ammonia from the soil.
This water mimics the natural nitrogen cycle of nature.
Plants around water bodies use the nitrogen waste that is excreted by the fish, which helps them to get nutrients and make them flourish.
Molasses is a thick black liquid extracted from sugarcane that contains multiple plant nutrients.
It has a rich source of iron, calcium, manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium, carbon, and potash.
It also helps to create beneficial microorganisms in the soil.
Mix one tablespoon of molasses in 2 liters of water to boost your plant’s nutrition.
Molasses encourages the rapid growth of your plants and introduces a diverse ecosystem.
Use a large container to make compost tea.
Compost is created from organic waste at home.
You can throw eggshells, tea/coffee, grass clippings, and vegetable peels, and add water and soil to create a natural microbial environment.
You can use this compost as it is by mixing it in the soil, or you can make compost tea by soaking the compost in cold water for a few days and then watering the plants with it.
Let me quickly briefly explain the steps to make compost at home:
- Choose a clay or terracotta container to grow your plants in.
- Layer the pot with a base of straw. Put cardboard, leaf matters, and twigs on it.
- On top of the cardboard, add organic matter like fresh grass clippings, leaves, etc., between brown and green layers. This layering helps to preserve an equal amount of carbon and nitrogen in the compost.
- Keep the compost constantly moist. Neither too soggy nor too dry, just moist.
- Keep it covered so that the compost stays warm. More heat helps it to decompose more quickly.
- Every 3-4 weeks, you have to turn your compost with a shovel. This ensures all the parts of it receive airflow, which will hasten the process
- Your compost will be ready when it resembles soil. So wait until it is broken down and feels and smells like earth. After this, you can directly apply it to your soil.
11. Wood ash
Adding ash from burnt wood is a great fertilizer for plants.
They help raise the soil’s pH, increasing the alkaline content.
They also contain calcium, potassium, phosphorous, etc., which are very healthy for plants.
However, before using wood ash, check the pH of the soil.
If it is above 6.5, you should not use this, as too much alkaline soil can be harmful.
Using homemade houseplant fertilizer is a great way to boost your plants’ growth and keep them healthy. Many growers prefer using homemade fertilizers over commercial fertilizers because it is safe for the plants and good for the environment.
Instead of throwing them away, consider using coffee grounds, banana peels, fish tank water, and eggshells to create homemade fertilizer for your plants. Composting is my favorite way of providing nutrients to plants.
Source: Coffee grounds benefits, Effects of Winter Foliar Fertilizing, and Plant Growth Promoters.