Plants need 17 essential nutrients for its optimal growth, which it gets from air, water and soil. Due to repeated watering, nutrients and minerals in soil gets depleted.
This is why you need to supplement the essential nutrients in the form of organic matter or synthetic fertilizers.
Enriching the potting soil regularly can sometimes go out of your budget. However, when you’ve best fertilizers for indoor plants in your home, why should you opt for chemical incorporated products?
Excellent thing about natural homemade fertilizers is that they take longer time to breakdown, which ensures the houseplant gets continuous supply of nutrients.
Is Fertilizer Necessary for Indoor Plants?
Light, water and right potting soil mix are essential for plant growth. Adding fertilizers is like a bonus for your plant.
Compared to outdoor plants, indoor plants get less light, so their growth is limited. With no fruits and flowers, houseplants don’t really require lots of nutrients.
However, adding essential nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus during growing season will help indoor plants to thrive and compensate for leaf loss.
During colder months you don’t have to fertilize indoor plants, as they undergo dormant stage.
Note: Over-fertilization is a common thing that results in yellowing of leaves and stunted plant growth.
So, it is very important that you don’t over-use fertilizers. Using homemade organic fertilizer will reduce the problem of over-fertilization to some extent, as nutrients are released slowly and plant roots aren’t exposed to over-fertilization.
10 Best Homemade Fertilizers for Indoor Plants
Making your own organic fertilizer at home can seem a challenging science task that can go work, but it is quite easy.
Apart from being cost-effective, using home available things to enrich your indoor plants can be environmental friendly.
Below mentioned are some of the ingredients that are available in most households. It might be surprising to see benefits of these kitchen scraps.
1. Banana Peel
Next time after enjoying the delicious banana, don’t throw its peel. Instead compost them to be used to enrich the potting soil of indoor plants.
Banana peel fertilizer is organic and is rich in potassium and magnesium, which can strengthen plant stems and encourage root growth.
Apart from these essential nutrients, this homemade fertilizer is rich in calcium and phosphorus, which can help to break down nutrients in the soil and aids in blooming.
How to use:
The best way is to add banana peel to composting bin. Nutrients in the peel can be observed by the plant roots only after decomposition.
Another way is to dry banana peels under sunlight for couple of days, till they turn black. Next is to grind them into fine powder. Add this obtained powder to potting soil mix.
Third way is to prepare banana peel fertilizer tea. Soak peels in mason jar filled with water for about a week. Dilute the obtained liquid and spray it on indoor plants.
2. Coffee Grounds for Indoor Plants
There are many myths around the use of used coffee grounds for houseplants. Though few claims are myths, this kitchen leftover does benefit your indoor plants when used correctly.
Used coffee grounds have 2 percent of nitrogen, 0.3 percent of phosphorus and 0.3 percent of potassium. These essential nutrients encourage plant growth and root developments.
A study states that adding coffee grounds to compost will enrich it with nitrogen content.
Apart from adding nutrients, coffee grounds improve water retention ability of the soil and it can be mixed with wood chips for mulching around indoor plants.
How to use?
Composting used coffee ground is the best way to reuse this kitchen leftover and enrich indoor plants with essential nutrients.
But, make sure you don’t exceed coffee grounds more than 20 percent of total compost volume.
Other way is to make coffee ground liquid fertilizer.
3. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt adds magnesium and sulfur to the plant soil. Though they are secondary nutrients, these elements help the plant roots to absorb key nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.
Epsom salt addition to the potting soil increases blooming and makes the leaves greener.
Epsom salt contributes in photosynthesis process of the plant.
How to Use?
Dilute 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt per gallon of water. Use it to spray on your indoor plants.
You can also sprinkle some Epsom salt around the plant; this will benefit plant growth and add-up nutrients to the growing soil.
4. Crushed Eggshells
Eggshells include 1.19, 0.38 and 0.14 ratio of NPK. Along with it, organic matter in inner shell adds trace elements to the soil.
But, eggshells needed to decompose to be readily available for plant roots.
Along with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, eggshells have trace elements like sodium, manganese, iron and copper.
How to use?
Wash eggshells, dry them and grind them into fine powder.
Add this pulverized eggshell powder to your compost bin. Nutrients in eggshells needed to breakdown through decomposition process.
You can also add this finely grounded powder to potting soil mix.
5. Kitchen Leftovers
Not knowing about the nutrients in kitchen scraps, most of us throw them away. Instead, you can reuse them to enrich your indoor plants.
Vegetable scraps and kitchen leftovers are packed with key and secondary nutrients that can strengthen plant stems and encourage blooming.
These natural fertilizers aren’t just cost-effective; they make our environment garbage free.
How to use?
Most popular way is to add vegetable scraps to compost bin. Before adding these leftovers, chop them into small pieces and add them along with brown material.
Second way is to boil leafy veggies in water for about 15 minutes. Allow the liquid to cool for about 4-5 hours and then use 2-3 teaspoons of this liquid fertilizer to enrich your indoor plants.
6. Wood Ashes
Potassium, calcium and magnesium residing in wood ash are water soluble and are readily available to enrich your indoor plants.
Adding wood ash to acidic soil will reduce its acidity and make it alkaline.
If your indoor plants thrives in alkaline soil, then adding wood ash can benefit your plant growth.
How to use?
You can add directly to the potting soil or mix it to compost pile.
But, ensure you don’t over-use it, as plants that like acidic soil will face problem with more alkaline soil.
7. Green Tea
Potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium are packed in green tea that can enrich plant growth and improve root development.
Acidic nature of green tea powder will reduce soil pH and make it more acidic.
Don’t use green tea on plants that thrive in alkaline soil should stay away from green tea use.
How to use?
You can add green tea to compost bin or use it as mulch around the plant.
Mulching indoor plants with green tea may attract flies, so cover it with dry potting soil.
8. Worm Tea
Earthworms are used to decompose kitchen waste and turn them into organic fertilizer.
Along with solid matter, you can collect liquid fertilizer from worm composting.
The obtained liquid is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
You can use this worm tea to enrich indoor plants.
Check this: How to Use Worm Castings for Succulents?
9. Fish Tank Water
If you’ve aquarium in your house, don’t throw the water; instead use it on indoor plants.
Fish produces excrement that is toxic fish but, rich in nutrients for most of the plants.
You can also grow your indoor plants in fish aquarium in hydroponics way.
It is a by-product of sugarcane and grapes, which is used to make crystallized sugar.
This brown thick liquid consists of magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium and other micronutrients that contribute in healthy growth of the plant.
Sugar in molasses can be consumed by microorganisms in the soil, making the soil healthy.
Excellent thing is, these nutrients are readily available for plant to absorb.
How to use?
Dilute 2 teaspoons of molasses in one gallon of water and use it as a liquid fertilizer for your indoor plants.
You can also add dilute molasses to your compost bin.
Third way is to add 1 teaspoon of molasses with compost tea and use it to enrich plant soil.
Tips While Fertilizing Indoor Plants
Fertilizers strengthen plant stems, encourage its roots and contribute in blooming.
But, over-fertilization can kill your indoor plants. This is why you should maintain a balance of nutrients.
- Choosing the right fertilizer is essential. Opt for well-balanced fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
- Water indoor plants before fertilizing.
- Natural fertilizers are safe when compared to synthetic fertilizers as they are released slowly into the soil.
- Most organic fertilizers aren’t well-balanced, so you should rotate fertilizers to maintain balance of nutrients.
- Ensure you don’t over-fertilize the plant. Yellowing of leaves, stunted plant growth and salt deposits on surface of the soil are signs of excess fertilization.
- Plant needs nutrients when they get enough sunlight. Without optimal sun exposure your plant won’t be able to use these nutrients.
- Don’t fertilize during winter, as most indoor plants undergo dormant stage.
Though most organic fertilizers don’t have serious side-effects on plant, you should do your bit of research about its nutrients before adding it to plants.
Check these articles:
- Best Homemade Fertilizer for Jade Plant
- Fertilizing Hibiscus Plants with Homemade Fertilizers
- Peace Lily – Fertilizing Tips
It is rewarding to use homemade fertilizers for indoor plants. These slow-releasing fertilizers ensure the plant gets continuous supply of nutrients throughout the growing season.
The key is to do prior research to ensure the pH of the soil isn’t altered and nutrients supply is well-balanced.
Kitchen scraps, eggshells, used coffee grounds, molasses and worm tea are few home available things that can be used to enrich indoor plants.
Khaja Moinuddin, a computer science graduate, finds joy in gardening and homesteading. Join him on this blog as he shares his experiences in homesteading, gardening, and composting