Houseplant Care 101 - Feeding Plants
Fertilizing houseplants may seem like a hassle, but for those of us who are houseplant enthusiasts, we know it's integral in maintaining healthy (and happy) houseplants.
Houseplants need food to help them grow to their full potential and look stunning all year round. Natural houseplant fertilizers are a great option as they are safe, effective and provide a steady release of nutrients into the soil. In addition, they are eco-friendly and will even improve the quality of the potting soil over time. But mainly they cost absolutely nothing!
The key to making your own effective fertilizer at home is understanding the “big 3,” the N-P-K, that is:
- The N is for nitrogen - the nutrient plants use most to grow large and lush—tall stems with lots of good leafy growth.
- The P for phosphorus is needed to grow strong healthy root systems, and to promote vigorous flowering,
- The K for Potassium - helps with plant growth, protein production, plant hardiness, disease resistance, insect resistance and efficient water use. Plants without enough potassium grow slowly and can have yellow leaves.
But let’s not overthink it and start feeding your plants monthly with below variety:
- Banana Peels - Chop up the peels and soak them in hot water overnight. Remove the peels from the water and pour the cooled liquid on your plants. Bananas add needed potassium to your houseplants.
- Egg Shells - Dry the shells thoroughly and grind them to a powder with an old coffee grinder. Sprinkle the dried egg shells around your plants. Dried egg shells add nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium to your soil.
- Coffee – Used coffee grounds can be mixed with potting soil or you can make liquid coffee fertilizer by soaking them in water for a week. Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, but relatively lower in potassium and phosphorus, so will be better for foliage plants. Because of the acidic nature of coffee it should be reserved for plants that do well in acidic conditions, like ferns, roses, and aloe.
- Fish Aquarium Water - If you have a freshwater aquarium at home, you have a supply of houseplant fertilizer ready and waiting. The wastewater is rich in natural nutrients from the decomposing fish food and fish waste. Using aquarium water to fertilize your houseplants actually mimics the natural nitrogen cycle. In nature, plants in and around a pond will process and make use of nitrogen waste produced by fish, helping the plants grow and filtering and cleansing the water for the plants.