You may have gotten the gist that I really like my houseplants. I like growing them, multiplying them by propagation, killing them occasionally too. Well, I technically do not enjoy the last bit but it does happen from time to time. And that’s fine. I used to feel terribly guilty about plants dying on me but I’ve been watching a ton of houseplant youtubers (that is a thing apparently) and they all say it’s just fine. It happens to everyone. Some plants are just grown all wrong (the growth is sped up by hormones so they can be sold quickly), some are just not meant to live. To avoid all the death in the household drama I’ve been learning to give my plants the best care they can possibly get. Which also means using plant fertilisers.
Homemade plant fertilisers you need to try
I have tried a couple of shop bought fertilisers before and to be honest, they just made me feel uneasy. They are really strong chemicals and I don’t appreciate having to buy them (which also means some company having to make them and me supporting that – not ideal). I don’t appreciate that my little plants would need such strong chemicals to thrive – since when do plants need CHEMICALS to thrive? And I’m also not a fan of pouring these chemicals into my plant pots when Pippin & Cookie can dig their noses right in. That just all seems dangerous in the most unnecessary, pointless way.
Hence I decided to research and try homemade natural plant fertilisers. They are usually made out of scraps from your kitchen and most of them work out to be zero waste too. The plants love them and the cats are still alive.
Starting with my most favourite from the bunch. After you’ve had your morning coffee, do two things. Pop the grounds on a plate and let them air dry. You can mix them with soil when repotting – they increase drainage and add nutrients to the soil. And secondly, if you have any left over coffee or just rinsing your French press, swirl the water right into the pot of your favourite plant. Just make sure it’s an acid loving one as coffee is very acidic.
Instead of throwing egg shells in the bin, let them dry and use them as a fertiliser. There are various ways to do so. You can either boil some water and let them steep in it overnight. Use the water to water your plants. You can also crush the egg shells and add them to the soil when repotting. This fertiliser adds the ever so needed calcium and also sodium and potassium to your plants.
Love bananas? Use the skins to make a banana tea – a potassium rich homemade fertiliser. Just leave the skins steeping in a jar of water for a few days. Then dilute the ” banana tea” and water your plants with it. Sometimes leaves can turn yellow around the edges on your plants – this tends to mean a lack of potassium.
Another super easy fertilising hack is to use rice water. It’s a very mild one so you don’t have to worry about overdoing it. It contains nitrogen and phosphorus and also helps all the good bacteria in soil grow and thrive which in return makes your plants very happy.
If you can’t get your hands on actual compost then vegetable broth is a decent option to try. Boil any vegetable scraps you have after cooking your dinner, let them steep overnight and then dilute in water. Water your plants to add nutrients. This is particularly useful for outdoor gardening and apparently works great on growing veggies too!
The three following fertilisers I haven’t tried personally but I have read loads of good things about them so I’ve decided to share them too. If your soil is deficient in sulphur or magnesium, then you can use Epsom salt to fertilise. You can either use it directly – by adding to the soil (definitely do not overdo it as too much salt can kill your plant). Or you can make a foliar spray. Dilute a little bit of Epsom salt in water and spray the leaves of your plant. I would definitely test this on a little leaf first to see the reaction. It’s meant to work magic on veggies such as tomatoes!
This one’s a little wild but I can imagine it most definitely works. If you have a house and the opportunity to do this, give it a try! Take a big bucket, put some manure or compost to the very bottom of the bucket. Fill up with water. After a few days you have a super rich fertilising water ready to use!
This one is a little questionable as some sources highly praise it and some sources completely bash it. Apparently unflavoured (!) gelatine is a great source of nitrogen which makes houseplants thrive big time. Boil it in water, let it cool, dilute and water your plants with it. The questionable bit comes in when you look at the amounts of nitrogen contained in a packet of store bought gelatine powder. Considering that you boil it in water and then dilute again, you’re left with a very weak concoction of nitrogen. It might be weak but it still works are a fertiliser as it feeds the growth bacteria around the roots. I shall be trying this one soon nonetheless!
Do these DIY fertilisers work?
I believe that homemade fertilisers are most definitely the way to go. I don’t want to be using harsh chemicals on my plants because that just doesn’t seem right. But I also agree that these fertiliser recipes are to be tried and tested. Everyone has different plants at home and in the garden, different soil, different light and even different humidity in the air. That means that your particular plants might benefit from different nutrients. They might even benefit from different nutrients in spring, summer, autumn and winter. Perhaps the maranta you have on your bedroom window might need something else than the Boston fern on your kitchen worktop.
Good luck learning about your plants and testing these fun homemade recipes! My favourite is definitely the coffee, egg shell and banana one, and our plants seem to love it!