Natural fertilizers for your houseplants

3 Natural Fertilizers You Already Have At Home

dimitri • April 04, 2022 • 3 min read

One person’s food scraps are a plant’s perfect meal.

We often think of plants as needing three key things to survive: water, sunlight and soil. But just like other living things, they need to eat, too. Indoor plants have a limited soil supply to draw their nutrients from, and when they run out, they need to be fertilized in order to stay healthy.

Sure, you can purchase fertilizers from big box stores, but you’ve actually already invested in some fertilizer options — you just may not know it yet. Some gardening pros have composting routines to make use of their kitchen waste, so you’re probably familiar with the idea that your food scraps have value for your plant friends. Don’t have the space or time for composting? Don’t worry, the good news is you don’t have to go through the trouble of composting if you use some of the most common food waste found in your kitchen.

Coffee grounds

If you enjoy a fresh cup of coffee in the mornings, start stockpiling your used coffee grounds. When added to the top few inches of potting soil and gently worked in, they can add nitrogen and minerals (like calcium and potassium) for your plant. If your plant is low on nitrogen, it may grow slowly or sprout smaller leaves than usual.

Let the grounds dry fully before fertilizing with them to avoid any mold growth, and start by adding one tablespoon of grounds to your indoor plant pots. Taking it slow and steady ensures you don’t over-acidify your plant’s soil overnight, but still provides the nitrogen boost they need.

Eggshells

While you’re making breakfast or baking, set your eggshells aside rather than throwing them away. If you crush them and add them into soil, your potted plants will get all the calcium they need. Just be sure to wash and dry them out first, and crush them in a bag or food processor until they reach a powdery consistency. If your plant’s new leaves look malformed or wither and die off quickly, it can be a sign that it’s time for some calcium.

Banana peels

Outdoor gardeners love potassium-rich banana peels as fertilizer, often tossing the peels right on top of the soil or burying it near the roots. Indoors, this strategy may be a little to fragrant and popular with houseflies. Instead, add your banana peel to a blender with water to liquefy, then pour the mixture evenly over your plant’s soil. You’ll know your plant babe needs a potassium infusion if it develops yellowing around some leaf edges, or entire leaves turn a light green hue.

(Pro tip: Curious pets? While it’s not for fertilizing, scattering small pieces of orange peel around the base of a plant can help deter pets who want to nibble your pothos’s leaves or use your ficus as a litter box.)

It’s nice to know that if you recognize a nutrient deficiency in your plant, the solution is already in your pantry. And while the price point on these fertilizers is appealing enough, the fact that they’re natural offers major peace of mind. In homes with pets or toddlers who may occasionally like to try a mouthful of potting soil from your planter, it’s nice to know the worst outcome with these fertilizers is a mouthful of dirt (and little extra caffeine).

Caring for Your Plant

Caring for your plant will keep it happy and strong. Find out how to avoid the most common issues.

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