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Plant Food Already In Your Home

Updated on May 13, 2015

You don’t need to spend a lot of time and money to have your household plants thrive. Here is a compilation of many of the secrets and methods I have discovered on my own and been taught by various sources:


While plants can usually make do with normal soil, water, and light, sometimes we would like our chlorophyll companions to become stronger, grow faster, recover better, be brighter, and bloom more fully. To do this we give them plant food which, like people food, provide them with the nutrients and minerals that promote thriving. One way people do this is to buy chemicals and fertilizers from the store. But why buy and store plant food when it could easily be found in what is probably already in your own home? Many times what is good for your plants are things you would throw out anyway, so it is the ultimate form of green living to utilize these things to enrich your plants.

1.) The coffee grounds that are left over in your coffee maker contains nitrogen, which plants really dig. Coffee grounds are used in their natural state without the addition of chemicals and so they work great as fertilizer to be mixed with or just sprinkled on the soil. Coffee grounds are also useful as a feline repellent as cats, like Mormons, are anti-coffee. This is helpful because many cats like to eat, play with or dig up many plants which is annoying to clean up and also cruel to the naturally pacifist-natured houseplant.

2.) Ash from your fireplace has a plethora of nutrients that plants enjoy depending on the type of wood burned. You can sprinkle it on the soil or mix it in. You need to be careful not to use too much ash in your soil as its alkaline nature can be detrimental to the well-being of your plants. A heaping teaspoon per cup of soil is plenty. Apply no more than once a month.

3.) When you boil spaghetti (or any pasta) or potatoes, do not dump the water down the drain. That water now contains lots of starch which plants have taken to calling "Dee-licious!"(or if they are Spanish plants they may use the term "Dee-lisioso!") But don’t just dump scalding water onto your plants, allow the starchy brew to cool to room temperature before serving it to your potted pals.

4.) If you like the challenge of hard-boiling an egg, then remember to use the left over water to treat your plants to a healthy dose of protein water. They will feel better, look better, and produce some of the finest oxygen known to show their gratitude. Make sure and let the water cool to room temperature before using.

5.) After you finish your milk or half-and-half, fill the empty container with water. This dairy-water now contains vitamins and proteins that make plants perk up and cheer. A bonus to this is that now the container won’t smell badly in the garbage. Which is nice.

6.) If you’re one of those people that like to cook and eat vegetables then you should not just dispose of the water used to steam or heat them with. You should use that veggie-water to bathe your plant darlings. If there’s one things plants enjoy, it’s being drenched with the wonderful juices of their cooked brethren. They’re weird like that. Don’t use the water while it’s super-hot though. That would not be kosher. Let it cool. Let it cool.

7.) Get out your carton of Epson salts and dissolve six teaspoons or two tablespoons in a gallon of tepid water. Epson salt is a fantastic source of magnesium. In fact, Epson salt IS magnesium sulfate, so it all makes sense. What’s so great about magnesium? Well, a healthy dose of warm magnesium water once a month can have all sorts of promising effects. It’s like plant-steroids, so it gives them great energy, helps them build strong stems and leaves, increases their bloom, and makes them much more resistant to disease. Although if you use this magnesium plant steroid, kiss your plants dreams of playing Major League Baseball goodbye. They don’t allow steroids anymore.

8.) If you want brighter leaves and petals on your rooted rascals they you can use some flat sodium-free seltzer. If it’s not flat already just stir it vigorously with a spoon or other utensil. It doesn’t have to be completely flat, but it’s recommended that the carbonation is reduced. Watering your plants with seltzer water tends to make the various colors on your plant bolder and more attractive. You can use seltzer as much as you wish.

9.) Take some steel wool (not the kind with the detergent in it) and soak it in a tin or aluminum can overnight. You can also use nails, washers, screws or any little metal doodad you have around. Just soak them in a can for half a day and the water with become heavy with minerals that make house plants want to flip (if they weren’t rooted to a pile of dirt, that is). This is an especially effective remedy for pants that have grown yellowish and sick. Do this as needed, but no more than once every two weeks.

There are other secret fertilizers and elixirs but I have left them out here because they are either not all that common in most households or they are just downright gross. As you can see, plant food is abundant in almost any household.


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    • michaelkitz profile image

      Michael Kitz 2 years ago from World Wide Web

      I use them all and I never had any trouble. Of course I only water my plants once every four-to-five days so its not like I'm using the left over water every day. You bring up an important issue: how often to use each one, I need to clarify that with all of them. I would guess that the hard-boiled egg water and milk carton water would lead to the most stink if used only and often, but I need to experiment more with them to give a more accurate answer. Thank you for bringing this valid concern to my attention!

    • TacTac profile image

      TacTac 2 years ago

      Very useful information, thanks for sharing. Have you tried any of the left over water suggestions? I am always worried they might make the soil stink.