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6 Natural Homemade Fertilizers For Your Houseplants And Garden

If you've recently become more aware of your environmental footprint and chemicals are starting to freak you out, you've come to the right place. Natural fertilizers are just that - natural.

And since you can use ingredients you already have in your home, it's also much lighter on your wallet.

Natural fertilizers can be used anywhere in your house - on plants in your kitchen, on plants that are safe for your cats, and homemade fertilizer can help remedy some common indoor plant problems and save your plant babies from dying.

Hands putting soil in garden

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6 Natural Homemade Fertilizers

Top view of Epsom salt in a bowl with spoon

1. Epsom Salts

Why is this good?

Epsom salt contains both sulfate and magnesium. These are essential for plant growth and help to improve soil quality.

Magnesium can:

  • Improve the uptake of other essential nutrients by plants

  • Support your houseplant in recovering from stress caused by transplanting, drought, or extreme temperatures.

Aloe vera, roses, peppers, tomatoes, and ferns love magnesium.

  • Dissolve 1 cup of Epsom salt in 1 gallon of water.

  • Shake the mixture vigorously.

Give your plants a monthly dose of this mixture during the growing season.

Overuse can lead to:

  • Mineral imbalances - leading to deficiencies or toxicities.

  • Salt buildup in the soil - making it difficult for roots to absorb water and nutrients.

Wet coffee grounds in wooden spoon, on table

2. Coffee Grounds

Why is this good?

Coffee grounds are abundant in potassium, nitrogen, and magnesium.

It can increase the soil's mineral content and have long-lasting effects, changing the soil for many months.

Blueberries, rhododendrons, roses, and azaleas are among the plants that benefit significantly from coffee grounds.

  • Collect your used coffee grounds.

  • Spread it on a cookie sheet, cover it with newspaper, and let it dry completely.

Remember, if you don't allow the grounds to dry completely, they might become moldy and attract bugs.

  • Use the grounds to cover your plant bases.

Use coffee grounds as a fertilizer once a month for best results.

Overuse can lead to:

  • Acidic soil - detrimental to plants that prefer neutral or alkaline soil conditions.

  • Nitrogen overload - leading to stunted growth and reduced flowering or fruiting.

  • Root rot - as coffee grounds have a high water retention capacity, this can lead to waterlogged soil.

  • Potential toxicity - because of compounds like caffeine, tannins, and oils. These substances can inhibit seed germination, root development, and overall plant growth if present in excessive amounts.

Eggshells on white

3. Eggshells

Why is this good?

Eggshells are made almost entirely of calcium carbonate - the main ingredient in agricultural lime.

Monsteras, including Swiss cheese plants, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, spinach, and eggplants, will benefit from shell fertilizer.

  • Keep all eggshells and let them air dry.

  • Process the dried shells in a blender until powdery-fine.

If you don't have a blender, your can place the eggshells in a bowl and use the bottom of a cup or glass to crush the shells into small pieces.

  • Sprinkle the shell powder around the plants in your garden or mix them into the soil.

Overuse can lead to:

  • pH imbalance - too many eggshells can increase the alkalinity of the soil.

  • Slow decomposition - undecomposed material affects water penetration and root growth, potentially causing drainage issues and root suffocation.

  • Calcium imbalance - disrupts the balance of other essential nutrients in the soil, such as potassium and magnesium.

Glass bottle of vinegar

4. Vinegar

Why is this good?

This works because the acetic acid in vinegar increases the soil's acidity.

It works particularly well on African violet, rubber plants, and gardenia.

  • Combine 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 gallon of water.

  • Use the solution to water your plants.

  • Repeat every three months.

Always dilute vinegar before giving it to your plants, and avoid spraying directly onto the leaves.

Overuse can lead to:

  • Soil acidity - imbalanced soil conditions, hindering nutrient availability and potentially causing plant nutrient deficiencies.

  • Root damage - the acidity of vinegar can burn and damage delicate root tissues, leading to stunted growth, wilting, and overall plant decline.

  • Harm to surrounding plants and wildlife - insects, worms, and other tiny organisms in the garden.

Cold fireplace ashes

5. Fireplace Ashes

Why is this good?

Fireplace ash is rich in potassium and calcium carbonate.

Plants such as carrots, tomatoes, spinach, beans, broccoli, celery, peas, avocados, and garlic tend to thrive with wood ash.

  • Collect fireplace ashes after they cool down.

  • Sprinkle the cold fireplace ash over your garden beds and work it into the soil.

Overuse can lead to:

  • Altered pH levels - making it difficult for plants to absorb certain nutrients.

  • Salt accumulation - creating an unfavorable osmotic environment for plants, causing root damage, reduced water uptake, and nutrient imbalances.

  • Heavy metal contamination - as fireplace ashes may contain trace amounts of heavy metals, posing a risk of plant toxicity over time.

Food scraps in grey compost bin

6. Compost

Why is it good?

Compost is full of nutrients and microorganisms that are good for your garden.

It has to break down in the soil before the nutrients are available to plants, which makes this a slow-acting fertilizer with long-term results.

  • Collect your fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, newspaper cuttings, twigs, leaves, etc.

  • Combine everything in a dedicated compost bin/ area.

  • Add some water from time to time, and turn your pile often to speed up the composting process.

  • When everything has broken down into dark, crumbly soil, it's ready to be spread in your garden.

Remember, certain things, like meat scraps, oils, or dairy products, shouldn't go into your compost pile.


The Bottom Line

There are no two ways; using items you already have around your home as natural fertilizer is an eco-friendly way of caring for your plants. You won't need to spend your precious dollars on chemical fertilizers when homemade works just as well or better.


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