Why fertilize indoor plants?
It often happens that over time, plants in homes lose some beauty. One of the reasons may be a lack of nutrition. Home fertilizers for indoor plants help to keep them healthy and thriving. Without fertilizers, plants will eventually experience a shortage of essential nutrients, which will affect their growth.
Most plants absorb most of the useful material from the soil through the root system. In nature, they receive trace elements from the earth and from the rains. When a plant grows indoors in a container, these natural processes are absent. Each time when watering, a small amount of nutrients is washed out of the soil. If the plant is not provided with the necessary nutrients, the soil will be depleted, and the plant will suffer. That’s why it’s important to give the right amount of nutrition to plants.
Advantages of using home fertilizers for indoor plants
The difference between natural homemade and store-bought chemical fertilizers is that natural ones are in organic form. In order for the roots of the plant to absorb nutrients from the soil, they must be broken down into mineral components by soil microorganisms.
Natural fertilizers decompose slowly, so indoor plants will have a long supply of nutrients to support their growth.
Understanding the NPK ratio
In order to be thriving, plants basically need three elements:
- nitrogen promotes leaf development;
- phosphorus helps in flowering;
- potassium strengthens the roots and protects against diseases.
The underlying chemical fertilizers of NPK are the names of nutrients containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Although there are many different important trace elements that are involved in healthy plant growth.
Nitrogen is a nutrient that is most involved in the growth of stems and foliage, often used for rapid growth in the early stages of development. Phosphorus is important for maintaining the health of the root system and flower production. Potassium promotes growth, helps to increase the endurance of plants, providing resistance to insects and diseases. Plants with potassium deficiency will grow much slower and look unhealthy, with yellowed leaves.
Understanding the significance of each of these nutrients is extremely important when preparing your own fertilizer. The use of natural, not chemical fertilizers for indoor plants gives many advantages:
- natural fertilizers take time to decompose, the risk of burning plants is significantly reduced, and there is no accumulation of toxic salts in the soil;
- improve the structure of the soil, increasing its ability to retain moisture and nutrients, contributing to the development of a microbial ecosystem;
- are more environmentally friendly, since organic substances can be both renewable and biodegradable.
Pay attention! Commercial natural fertilizers are usually more expensive than chemical mixtures, but using household items to make simple homemade fertilizers can save money.
Problems with the use of chemical fertilizers for indoor plants
Unlike natural fertilizers, chemical fertilizers consist of highly concentrated nutrients that are extracted and purified in industrial processes.
Chemical fertilizers are popular for indoor plants because they are readily available, relatively inexpensive and contain mineral nutrients that immediately become available to plants. They usually contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the ratios that are indicated on the package as NPK values. But these fertilizers have quite a few disadvantages associated with the risk of harm to plants, as well as their negative impact on the environment
Additional information! Nutrients in chemical fertilizers have a high concentration, and immediately become available to plants. They are easy to sort out, which can cause chemical burns to sensitive plant tissues.
The soil mixture loses its organic substances, becoming compacted, lifeless and unable to retain water and nutrients. Excess mineral salts can accumulate to toxic levels in potted soil, which will damage the roots and weaken the plant.
How to fertilize indoor plants with natural fertilizer
The principles of fertilization with natural products are the same as when using chemical fertilizers.
Although natural fertilizers are much safer, too much of them can also harm the plant.
- Fertilize only when indoor flowers are actively growing or blooming.
- Choose the right type of fertilizer.
- Dry fertilizers are usually used less frequently than liquid fertilizers.
- In low-light conditions, less fertilizer will be required than in brighter lighting.
Important! When is it better to fertilize indoor plants? It is best in spring and summer, when they are actively growing. No need to fertilize in the cold winter months.
Preparation of fertilizer for indoor plants
It is easy to make fertilizers with your own hands from everyday food waste. This is an easy way to save money, provide plants with important nutrients using ingredients that are at home.
There are many different products that can be used as a natural fertilizer for plants, using one or a combination of these ingredients. They add essential nutrients to the soil, such as potassium, nitrogen, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Simple options for home-made fertilizers:
- crushed eggshells to reduce acidity and add calcium;
- banana peel to add potassium;
- used coffee grounds to add nitrogen;
- green tea to acidify the soil;
- epsom salt to add magnesium and sulfur;
- wood ash to increase the alkalinity of the soil;
- gelatin powder to increase nitrogen levels.
Eggshells are rich in a source of calcium and help to reduce the acidity of the soil. You can crush the shell and mix it with the soil, or soak it in water overnight, and use the liquid to water the plants.
The easiest way to keep eggshells as fertilizer in the freezer. When there are enough of them, you can simply crush them with a rolling pin inside the package or use a coffee grinder to prepare the powder.
Banana fertilizer for indoor plants is a rich source of potassium, and also contains a small amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and magnesium. There are several ways to use bananas to improve the soil.
The fastest way is to chop coarsely, and slightly bury it in a pot. Banana peel fertilizer for indoor plants: cooking recipe. Soak the crushed peel in hot water. Remove the peel from the water and pour the cooled liquid over the plants. Leave the banana peel in a jar of water for a few days, the nutrients from the peel will get into the water. Then this infused water can be used for watering plants.
Fertilizer from coffee grounds. Fertilizing houseplants with used coffee grounds is an excellent source of nitrogen, which helps houseplants grow with strong foliage. This is especially useful for plants that like acidic soil, such as begonias, African violets and roses. Coffee grounds will make the soil more acidic. It is recommended to let the coffee grounds dry before spreading it in a thin layer on top of the soil. This will help prevent mold growth.
You can also prepare liquid fertilizer by soaking coffee grounds in a jar of water for about a week. This will provide nitrogen-saturated water for fertilizing plants. For all other types of plants that like soils with a more alkaline pH, use with caution and rarely.
Green tea is used to prepare simple and inexpensive home top dressing for indoor plants. Tea leaves are placed on the ground or brewed in water to obtain liquid fertilizer. Like coffee grounds, green tea is best suited for plants that like acidic soil. Green tea leaves contain tannic acid, which helps to lower the pH of the soil.
Epsom salt can be used as a special fertilizer for plants that may have a deficiency of magnesium or sulfur. Magnesium is a source of healthy bright green color of plants. With its lack, the green color fades at the edges and yellowing occurs between the veins of the leaves. Epsom salt can be an effective means to restore a healthy green color to the leaves of plants.
Adding ash from burnt wood into the soil of pots is a simple and safe way to increase alkalinity.
Wood ash also provides potassium, calcium and phosphorus, which are useful for many plant species.
Gelatin powder is an easy source of a small increase in nitrogen for healthy plant growth. This is especially useful for plants with large, beautiful leaves. Dissolve a 7-gram package of gelatin in 1 cup of hot water, and then in a liter of water. Water the soil with this solution about once a month.
Fertilize with water after cooking vegetables. Water is rich in nutrients, during cooking vegetables secrete many trace elements ideal for home plants. Houseplants like starch water, which remains after cooking potatoes or pasta. Just let them cool in the water and then water the indoor plants.
About fertilizers, it should be remembered that the less, the better. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers can cause burns and damage to the plant. Home fertilizers act more “slowly”, and damage by them is much less likely. You can confidently make them, the plants will be grateful for it.