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Homemade Organic Plant Food

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

As the season changes and the temperature gets cooler many people choose to over-winter their plants by bringing them indoors. It is important to regularly feed them with a good plant food to keep them at their healthy best. Homemade organic plant food is both inexpensive and better for your plants than commercial types.

There are no harsh chemicals so there is less chance of burning your plants by giving them too much plant food. Because the homemade fertilizer is made from ingredients you probably already have around the house it is cheaper and more convenient.

So what are you waiting for?


Choose the Best Mixture for Your Plant

There are literally hundreds of different kinds of plant foods and fertilizers. It is important to understand what your plant needs so that you can create the best mixture for it. For example, seedlings and weak plants need something that they will absorb quickly and will boost the health of the plant. Orchids need a certain mixture, or if you have a variety of houseplants you may want to choose an all purpose mix.

Most of these mixtures can be used outside on your outdoor plants as well. Fish tank water is fantastic in either the vegetable garden or the flower garden and compost tea can be made in much larger amounts for larger areas.

No matter which recipes you choose you should make sure that you put the mixture in a clean, sterile bottle or Mason jar with a tightly fitting lid. Put a label on it and make sure it is well marked. Store it out of the reach of children and pets – even organic fertilizers can be dangerous when ingested.

Homemade Organic Plant Fertilizer

Homemade Organic Plant Food Recipes

For best results be sure to following the mixing instructions exactly.

African Violet Plant Food

African Violets need a specialized plant food and you will probably get the best results from a commercial mixture. That said, you can try this mixture and see how your plants like it. Always water violets from the bottom!


  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Epsom salt
  • 1 teaspoon saltpeter
  • 1/2 teaspoon household ammonia
  • 1 gallon water


Mix all ingredients and water violets with it once a month.

All Purpose Houseplant Food

This is an all purpose mixture that is good for most houseplants. Water your plants about once a month with this mixture to keep them looking great all season.


  • 1 tablespoon Epsom salts
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon plain household ammonia
  • 1 gallon water


Mix well and store in tightly covered glass containers that are clearly labeled. An old milk carton that has been cleaned out is perfect for this.

Coffee for Acid Loving Plants

Leftover coffee is wonderful for your acid loving plants. Add one cup of black coffee to one gallon of water. Use once a month to water your plants.

Compost Tea

  • Place your vegetable scraps in a blender with a little water to make a slurry.
  • Fill a quart Mason jar 1/3 full of the slurry and add water until full.
  • Let ferment for about two weeks
  • Mix in a 1:10 ratio of compost tea to water

You can also use seaweed for this purpose. Use the liquid on your houseplants once a month.

Fish Tank Water

The water from your fish tank is full of nutrients that will help your plants to flourish. It is gentle enough to use for every watering – just save the water when you clean the tank instead of pouring it out. Use it to water your plants as often as needed.

This is great for almost any plant.

Miniature Roses and Other Houseplants

This mixture is high in magnesium and sulfates to give your flowering plants the boost they need. It really couldn't be simpler to make.

Add one tablespoon Epsom Salts to one gallon water, and stirred until dissolved. Use once a month to water your plants.

Homemade Plant Food for Orchids

Orchids are difficult to grow and need plenty of fertilizer. This is an excellent houseplant food to keep them growing and blooming.


  • ½ cup household ammonia
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 cup Epsom Salts
  • 2 cups water


Mix all of the ingredients together in a quart Mason jar, label and cover tightly. Use two tablespoons per Orchid per month.

When to Apply Organic Fertilizers for Houseplants

Use Organic Ingredients When Possible

Some ingredients won't come in organic versions but some will. Your compost will be organic if you use organic produce in your home. Fish tank water will certainly be organic.

For best results you should draw the water you are going to use on plants 24 hours before using. This is true whether you are making homemade plant food or just watering. Most water has chlorine and other additives in it that isn't good for the plants. Letting it sit uncovered for a day allows the chlorine to evaporate off and leaves cleaner water.

Having lush, beautiful houseplants all year long isn't difficult when you know how to give them the nutrients they need in a gentle, natural form.


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    • bookworm35 profile image

      Sheene Kirlew 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Great article! I love flowers- especially roses, but fertilizer can be very expensive; keeping up with the purchase of fertilizer each month can really add up. I'll try your suggestions. Thanks!

    • aquaponics4you profile image

      aquaponics4you 6 years ago from India

      you are sharing the best information about organic plant food , thanks

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Another great recipe to be bookmarked and vote up also.

      Here's to ,many more to share on here,

      Take care


    • rwelton profile image

      rwelton 6 years ago from Sacramento CA


      Great ideas...I have used coffee (no cream or sugar!!!) and the fish tank water before - but I didn't know about the salts and this really does the job?


    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Even the prices of fertilizers are getting out of hand. Therefore your tips are very welcome.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Great tips and I love the recipes for organic plant food. The weather is turning where we live and its time to prepare our plants for winter.

    • StayPos profile image

      StayPos 6 years ago from Florida, USA


      Very interesting and insightful hub! I found it amazing that ammonia is a staple for good plant food :-) This is timely as I planned to swing by Lowe's this week to pick up some plant food for my Caladiums!

      Thanks for sharing!

      All the Best