Natural Cheap Homemade Fertilizer

Seattle, WA

Hi all,

I don't want to spend the money on expensive fertilizers at plant stores. I have a house full of plants that I've been taking fairly good care of in terms of light and watering, but I haven't been fertilizing any of my plants. Some of these plants I've had for a few years, so they're probably long overdue for fertilizing/feeding (I honestly don't know the difference between the two, if there is a difference). I would love to make some natural fertilizer from cheap ingredients. Does anyone have a recipe that would be suitable to most houseplants and that doesn't have much of an odor?

I have a good recipe for vegetable garden fertilizer--would using a fertilizer recipe that is specifically designed for northwest vegetable gardens be a good or bad idea? The recipe I have involves seed meal, lime, seaweed, and phosphorus rock. I will also have homemade compost ready in the spring which I planned to use for the houseplants. Any advice on that?


Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

Plants make their own food through the process of photosynthesis. Through fertilizing, you provide the nutrients, the building blocks plants need to make their food, to grow, and to keep their systems orderly. When you fertilize with soluble fertilizers, you can be sure of exactly what nutrients you are supplying, and at what concentration. You can also rest easy in the fact that the nutrients are immediately available for uptake.

When you use soil amendments like various meals and other organic products, you usually have little idea what, exactly, you are supplying or when it will be available for uptake. Growing in containers is quite different from growing in the garden. Nutrients locked in hydrocarbon chains (like in the x-seed meal) are not available for uptake until microorganisms in the soil cleave the hydrocarbon chains and reduce the nutrients to elemental form. Since the populations of these soil organisms depend on a number of variables, their numbers are erratic in container culture, which also makes delivery/availability of nutrients erratic and unreliable in comparison with soluble forms of nutrients. This hasn't yet taken into consideration the impact the fine 'meals' and other soil amendments have on the physical properties of the soil - primarily aeration and drainage.

That said, I won't take time to explaining further or offer suggestions if an 'all organic' ideology limits your choices.


Thumbnail by tapla
Seattle, WA

I prefer to not have a large impact on the environment due to my fondness of houseplants (I'm a strong proponent of striving to live a more sustainable lifestyle), so I would prefer to keep things fairly local and organic for that reason, as long as it's possible to do so and still have fairly healthy plants. So far, without fertilizing, my plants have been doing surprisingly well and most have flowered regularly. So I'm hoping that, even if organic fertilizing won't give them the absolute ideal conditions, it will at least give the plants enough to keep them going strong as they already are. I have also heard that using liquid fertilizer (at least high nitrogen liquid fertilizer) depletes the organic matter in the soil, so I'm trying to avoid doing that as well. I'm open to suggestions.

Grand Rapids, MI(Zone 5b)

I've been watering my plants with used fish tank water. When I change the water in my fish tank I save about half for my plants. I figure the water is good for the plants since it has been conditioned for the fish (treated to remove/neutralize chlorine & stuff that could harm the fish) and probably has "fish manure" and stuff in it. I've also heard used coffee grounds are good, I think your local coffee shops would give you some if you asked.

Paris, TX(Zone 7b)

The best set up I've ever had was a 55 gal metal barrel under an eve of a small shed up hill from my salarium with plastic tubing running and brass couplings used to control it and long enough to reach each group of plants. The tube was held in the tank with a weight, (a panty hose leg with some rocks in it secured to tubing.) put all kinds of organic stuff in it with lid partially open and nc riater running 24/7. best water ever had.

Salem, OR(Zone 8a)

Hi, I loved your idea of homemade fertilizer so I googled (homemade plant fertilizer) and found a ton of recipes! Some are super easy with only a few household items in it!! Good Luck!!

Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4a)

leave the phosphorus rocks out of it. We already have too much of it, its nonrenewable product that is rapidly running out of and spoil water supplies along with water plants growing out of control. Phosphorus also create dead zones where rivers meet the sea. "Phosphorus rocks" are actually guano that builds up over long periods of time and they strip mine islands and regions for it.

Paris, TX(Zone 7b)

I didn't use Phosphorus rocks, just plain ole' river rocks from somewhere in Texas, and just enough of them in the piece of panty-hose leg to hold the air-hose and water hose in place. By doing this the hose did not ever have to be "primed", the water simply ran down the hill as gravity so didn't need a water pump either. The brass couplings in the solarium were used to control flow.

(Zone 7a)

I used egg yolk for my tiny kaffir lime leaves plant and the new leaves get bigger and greener.
I bring it indoor during the winter and bring it outside when the weather is nice.
Just beat egg yolk in the bowl, add a little water and mix it well. Then put the mixture in the soil.

I hope it work for your plants.

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