Are your monstera plants looking a little droopy or your spinach leaves falling limp? It may be time to add some pep to your plants with homemade plant food. Just like you, plants need essential nutrients in their diet to grow, flourish, and fight off harmful diseases. But there's no need to rush out to your local garden center to buy expensive fertilizing powders and concentrates. Save money by making your own fertilizer at home!
Whether you prefer to use Lomi to decompose your food waste or to get creative with banana peels and coffee grounds, this blog will provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to start feeding your plants with natural fertilizer.
If you'd like to skip to the recipes, use these links to jump ahead:
- What is fertilizer made of?
- The benefits of making homemade fertilizers
- How to make homemade fertilizer: 10 easy options to try
- What is the easiest and best homemade fertilizer for plants?
Keep reading to learn more about fertilizer and the benefits of making it yourself.
What is fertilizer made of?
Fertilizer is made up of essential nutrients that stimulate plants to grow and thrive. Although the exact nutritional makeup can vary from one fertilizer recipe to another, the best homemade plant food contains a healthy dose of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).
Without these 3 essential nutrients, plants struggle to grow robust root systems, generate hearty leaves and create energy from the sun (photosynthesis). Because these key nutrients are found anywhere from composted banana peels to recycled fish waste, there are a variety of homemade plant food recipes for you to explore.
But first, take a look at why it's best to make your own natural fertilizer at home.
The benefits of making homemade fertilizers
Store-bought chemical fertilizers pack a large amount of synthetic nitrogen in their recipe, which can actually damage or kill a healthy plant when used incorrectly. If too much is fed to your plants, the soil will become overly-acidic and weaken their roots. Over-fertilized soil is also responsible for contaminating clean groundwater as well as nearby rivers, streams, and lakes.
This is why conscientious gardeners and foliage lovers are now choosing to make their own fertilizer at home. Homemade organic fertilizers break down and release nutrients into the soil over an extended period of time. This protects the surrounding environment and gives plants the time they need to absorb vital nutrients.
So, whether you’ve browsed through the reviews for a Lomi smart composter or you’ve never composted before in your life, keep reading to find the best homemade fertilizer recipe for your plants!
How to make homemade fertilizer: 10 easy options to try
There’s no need to use harsh chemical fertilizers or to transform your kitchen into a complicated science lab. With a little bit of organic waste, you can keep your plants satisfied through rain or shine. Read through the following options to discover your own homemade plant food recipe.
1. Make Lomi dirt with organic food waste
The best homemade fertilizer is the one that’s easiest for you to make and feed to your plants. Of all the homemade plant food options, Lomi’s nutrient-rich dirt ranks highest because of how quick and easy it is to make from food waste.
A Lomi electric composter creates valuable nourishment for your plants by breaking down every day organic waste into ready-to-use dirt in as little as four hours. So, if you’re still working on a consistent watering routine for your houseplants or if you’d rather not keep a jar of decomposing vegetable scraps on your kitchen counter, keep it simple and use a Lomi.
Quick how to: Fill your Lomi bucket with fresh fruit and vegetable waste. Add a Lomi pod and 50ml of water before selecting the Grow mode cycle. After a few hours, your Lomi bucket will contain nutrient-rich dirt. Combine your Lomi dirt with soil in a 1:10 ratio to use as homemade plant food.
Best for: Lomi dirt is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and sodium, making it a great option for both indoor and outdoor plant varieties.
Pro tip: Curious to know more about Lomi dirt and what you can do with it? Discover 8 simple things you can do with homemade dirt.
2. Create homemade organic compost
Homemade compost is an excellent natural fertilizer because it’s loaded with beneficial nutrients for your plants. Plus, you’ll never run out of it as long as you have food scraps to get rid of.
It may be tempting to toss a leftover apple core straight on top of your strawberry patch and call it good. But unless you’re looking to befriend a family of local raccoons, you’ll need to use some type of homemade compost bin to conceal food scraps while you wait for natural microbes to break down these items.
Want to learn more about creating your own compost pile? Read these composting tips for beginners.
Quick how to: If you have an outdoor space to create your own compost pile, throw your fruit and vegetable scraps, used coffee grounds, banana peels, and tea bags into a weather and critter-proof bin. Every 2-3 weeks, break up the compost by adding a splash of water and turning it with a shovel. After 2-12 months, your compost bin will contain dark, crumbly and microorganism-rich soil that your plants will love.
Best for: All plants can benefit from this excellent source of plant food!
Pro tip: If you live in an apartment or are looking for a quicker option, use a Lomi electric composter to break down food scraps into nutrient-rich dirt in less than 24 hours. No smells, no worms and no raccoons.
3. Use coffee grounds for acid loving plants
Used coffee grounds are a great natural fertilizer for plants that require more acidic soil. Coffee grounds are also packed with the nitrogen your plants need to grow up healthy and strong.
Plus, if you already have ground coffee hiding in your kitchen cupboards, you can start fertilizing your plants without the added shopping trip.
Quick how to: There are two ways you can use coffee grounds as homemade plant food.
- Collect your used coffee grounds and lightly spread them over your plant's soil once every few months. This method helps prevent pesky slugs and snails from eating your plants.
- If you have pets roaming through your garden, create a coffee-spray to deter them from sampling the grounds. Mix unsweetened, brewed coffee with water using a 1:3 ratio. (One part coffee to three parts water). Add the mixture to a spray bottle and spray lightly onto your garden soil once every few weeks.
Best for: Coffee grounds are best used as a homemade fertilizer for azaleas, rhododendrons, roses, African violets, cucumbers, potatoes, and blueberries.
Pro tip: A light coating of coffee grounds goes a long way! Rather than spreading a thick coat of coffee grounds around your plants, sprinkle them on like you would sprinkle salt on a meal.
4. Save leftover egg shells
It’s commonly known that the inside of an egg is packed with protein but did you know that its shell is actually a great source of potassium and calcium carbonate?
Egg shell fertilizer works because of calcium carbonate, a key ingredient in agricultural lime. If your soil is overly-acidic, calcium in the egg shells will help neutralize its pH level.
Quick how to: Crack open an egg, empty out its contents and thoroughly rinse the leftover shells. Lay the rinsed egg shells out flat to dry. Once you have collected 6-12 dried egg shells, grind them into a fine powder using either a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Add a light top-layer of egg shell powder to your plant’s soil.
Best for: Egg shells are a great homemade fertilizer for lilac, forsythia, clematis, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
Pro tip: Too much added lime may prevent your plants from absorbing the nutrients they need to grow. If you’d rather not apply egg shells directly to your plants, you can safely add them to your compost pile as they are on the list of items that you can compost.
5. Collect grass clippings
If you regularly mow your lawn, your plants will appreciate weed-blocking grass clippings as a natural fertilizer. In addition to keeping weeds at bay, grass clippings add a boost of nitrogen and potassium to your plants while also improving their ability to retain moisture.
Quick how to: Collect fresh cut grass from your lawn to spread around your garden soil. Bury the grass clippings under a small layer of dirt to prevent them from blowing around.
Best for: Whether you are gardening indoors or caring for flower gardens, all of your plants will benefit from this nourishing, organic fertilizer.
Pro tip: Avoid using harsh chemical fertilizers on your lawn if you are planning to repurpose your grass clippings. These chemicals could irritate or harm healthy plants.
6. Repurpose your banana peels
It’s no secret that bananas are a potassium powerhouse. Potassium is an essential nutrient that helps strengthen plant roots, build up their resistance to disease and enhance their ability to withstand drought (an added bonus for those of us who occasionally forget to water our house plants).
Quick how to: Chop up banana peels and bury them alongside your vegetable garden. Cover the peels with a thick layer of dirt to avoid sneaky critters looking to get their own little potassium boost. If you are looking for ways to use extra compost that you may have on hand, use this instead of garden soil to cover your banana peels.
Best for: Banana peel fertilizer is best used as a homemade plant fertilizer for tomatoes, potatoes, fruit trees, rose bushes, Monsteras, and Tillandsias (Yes, even air plants can appreciate this potassium packed fertilizer!)
Pro tip: To avoid fruit flies from congregating around your house plants, combine your banana peels with 2-4 liters of water and let soak for up to two weeks. Use the infused water to shower your indoor plants with potassium.
7. Fertilize with aquarium water
It may come as a shock that a cloudy fish tank full of fish waste can be used as a natural fertilizer for plants.
But if you’ve heard of aquaponic farming, you’ll know that fish and plants have a mutually-beneficial relationship. Plants naturally filter aquarium water while fish excrete waste that’s packed with plant-loving organic nutrients.
Quick how to: Clean out your aquarium water as usual but save the cloudy fish waste to hydrate your plants with.
Best for: Because it's packed with nitrogen, aquarium water is a great homemade fertilizer for leafy indoor houseplants such as golden pothos, Philodendrons, bamboo, arrowhead vines, or dumb canes.
Pro tip: For best results, use water from fresh water tanks. Avoid fertilizing edible plants if you routinely add special chemical conditioners to your aquarium water.
8. Brew compost tea
Compost tea is similar to traditional garden composting in that you can add any organic waste to the brew in order to create a robust natural fertilizer for your plants. All you need is a sealable container and water to make this simple tea fertilizer.
Quick how to: Add banana peels, coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, tea bags, and any other organic waste to a large, glass jar using a 1:10 ratio of compost to water. Mix in fresh or dried seaweed as an added nutritional bonus. Seal and shake the mixture once a day to agitate the tea. After a week, filter out the solids and dilute the remaining tea liquid with clean water using the same 1:10 ratio as before. Spray onto damp soil in the morning or evening.
Best for: Compost tea works well as a homemade plant fertilizer for both outdoor plants and houseplants since it contains a wide array of nutrients and beneficial bacteria. Red leaf lettuce, sweet corn, and soybeans all benefit from compost tea as a fertilizer.
Pro tip: After boiling or steaming veggies, add the remaining vegetable water to your compost tea. You can even add leftover rice water to your tea for an added boost of nutrients.
9. Use discarded weeds as plant food
Weeds can actually be a helpful resource to any gardener with a green thumb. Similar to other fertilizer teas, this recipe is easy to make and only requires a few ingredients to make and use as plant food.
But wait, aren’t weeds bad for your garden? Actually, weeds pack a robust amount of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and sulfur inside their leaves and roots. As long as you keep their seeds away from your plants, weed tea won’t generate any unwanted greenery in your vegetable garden.
Quick how to: Combine weed leaves, stems and roots with water using a 1:4 ratio. Store the mixture in an airtight jar or bucket. Agitate the mixture every few days for 4-5 weeks. Once the weed tea is ready, sieve the mixture using a cloth or paper filter. Before applying to your plants, dilute the tea with water using a 1:10 ratio.
Best for: Weed tea is a great plant fertilizer to use on transplanted seedlings as well as flowers and vegetables that are beginning to blossom.
Pro tip: Dandelions may be pesky but they are packed with nutrients! A weed tea made exclusively from dandelions will perk up any lifeless houseplant in no time.
10. Spray Epsom salts for extra magnesium
Epsom salt fertilizer is a quick solution for introducing more magnesium into your plants’ diets. Without enough magnesium, you might notice your green plants turning a pale shade of yellow. To prevent this from happening, use Epsom salts to encourage healthy plant growth.
Quick how to: Dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts into a gallon of water. Shake and use as a spray on both indoor and outdoor plants.
Best for: Epsom salt fertilizer is an excellent homemade fertilizer for roses, pansies, tomatoes and peppers as well as shrubs like azaleas, rhododendron and evergreens.
Pro tip: When planting roses, a tablespoon of Epsom salts added directly to the dirt will encourage the bush to generate more flowers during the blooming season.
What is the easiest and best homemade fertilizer for plants?
The easiest and best homemade fertilizer for plants is the one that works for your garden and schedule. Tomatoes may benefit from a sprinkle of coffee grounds whereas a fussy orchid may require a more customized solution. Choose a recipe that is easy for you to replicate and use on a regular basis.
Remember that fertilizer plays a key role in giving plants the nutrients they need to grow, blossom, and produce fruit. If you’d like to feed your plants but are worried about fitting it into your busy schedule, a Lomi offers a wide array of benefits to any gardener. With the help of this mighty kitchen appliance, everyday organic waste is broken down into a microbially-rich end product that you can immediately spread over your houseplants or vegetable garden.
Now that you’ve read through all of these homemade plant food options, it’s time to experiment and find out what works best for your plants! Or, if you’re ready to start making your own Lomi dirt, order your Lomi kitchen composter today!
Written by: Anna Buck