It’s almost time to get those outdoor plants in the ground and growing. Are you ready to get outside, arrange gorgeous flower beds or plants, and watch them thrive? It can be a challenge to keep your plants healthy all year round, and plant food recipes can help.
We’ve found several homemade plant food recipes that can help ensure your plants get all of the nutrients they need. But first, you have to know what the signs are of the different nutrient deficiencies. Your plants will tell you if you look.
Plant food you buy in the store can have a huge price range and it tends to have a lot of chemicals and filler that aren’t beneficial for your plants. This is an inexpensive and easy way to give your potted plants the food they need without accidentally burning their leaves or blowing your budget.
There are several household ingredients that have properties you need to replenish your plant’s nutrients in the soil, and this allows you to come up with your own homemade plant food recipes in your home.
We picked out a few different recipes you can use below.
This is an example of a healthy plant that is waiting to get transplanted outdoors or in a bigger container, and our food can help them establish themselves.
What Nutrients Do Your Plants Need to Stay Healthy?
The household items you use all have chemical elements. Potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen are the three main ones to keep in mind. In store-bought plant food, store-bought food measures these elements by the NPK balance. N is for nitrogen, P is for phosphorus, and K is for potassium.
Every element boosts different processes. Other elements you want to have are calcium and magnesium. Before you add anything, you want to test your plant’s soil so you don’t overload your plants.
Nutrient Deficiencies Homemade Food Can Address
When your plant has a nutrient deficiency, it’ll show in some way. Observe carefully to see what your plants need. You can use these clues to alter your recipes to fill these gaps. The deficiencies and signs your plants need certain nutrients include:
- Calcium – A calcium-deficient plant will have yellow spots between the leaf veins, stunted growth, blossom end rot, and dying or weak stems. Adding crushed eggshells to the mix will address it.
- Magnesium – A magnesium deficiency will give you plant’s leaves a marbled appearance or you’ll see yellowing on the leaf edges and along the veins. Adding epsom salts and watering it can boost the magnesium levels.
- Nitrogen – Any plants that have a nitrogen deficiency can have stunted growth and pale green or yellow leaves. You can grow nitrogen-rich plants like peas or beans near your deficient plant, or you can add coffee grounds.
- Phosphorous – A deficiency with phosphorus usually has stunted growth, absent or small flowers, and darker leaf edges. Adding used fish tank water or bone meal directly to your plant’s soil can help boost these levels.
- Potassium – Potassium-deficient plants are more prone to developing disease and dying from drought. Signs of this deficiency include yellow leaves, yellow or brown veins, and brown spots on the leaves. Burying banana peels an inch will deter aphids and slowly raise the potassium levels.
13 Recipes You Can Create In Your Spare Time
Now that you know the different components your plants can have deficiencies in and what to look for, we’ll outline 13 easy recipes you can put together. Again, it’s a good idea to test your soil to be 100% sure that your plant need more of one nutrient than the other to avoid harming them.
This simple test kit allows you to test your soil’s level of nitrogen, pH, potash, and phosphorus. It comes with indicator cards that will give you accurate measurements so you can adjust your homemade plant food’s nutrient levels to be the optimal range for your plant’s growth and health.
Recipe One – Coffee Grounds
We’ll start off with a really easy recipe that involves coffee grounds. If you drink coffee, you most likely have coffee grounds leftover that you toss. These coffee grounds have a high level of nitrogen that will increase your soil’s acidity. To make it, all you have to do is mix the coffee grounds in with the soil. Concentrate on the area directly around your plant’s base. This works wonderfully for magnolias, hydrangeas, roses, and vegetables.
Coffee grounds you could use to boost the soil’s nutrients surrounding your plants.
Recipe Two – General Nutrient Balancer
This recipe is good for balancing out all of the different nutrient levels in the soil. You can make it in bulk and store it in an old plastic milk jug. All you do is add all of the ingredients together and let them sit in your jug for an hour to dissolve. Mix:
- 1 tablespoon of epsom salts
- ½ teaspoon of ammonia
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 gallon of water
Once it dissolves, add right into the soil so it absorbs through their roots. To start, add a small amount to the top of your soil once every month. Based on what your plants do, adjust as needed.
Recipe Three – Manure “Tea”
If you have a horse or live on a farm, you have access to wonderful natural fertilizer. Any type of manure will do, ranging from horse or cow to pigs. If you don’t have farm animals, call up your local riding stables or farms and see if they’d part with any. Chances are, they’d be happy to let you have all you want. Whatever you use, make sure it’s from an animal that is not on medications. You’ll need:
- Five or six tablespoons of manure
- Cheesecloth or other porous cloth
- Pint glass with water
For this recipe, you take the manure and tie it up in the porous cloth. Add it to your pint glass and pour water in until it fully covers your bag. Give it three or four days to “steep” before removing the cloth. You now have a diluted fertilizer to feed your plants. You can add it directly to the soil. If you want to make a bigger batch, get a five-gallon bucket and eight pounds of manure. Follow the same instructions for the smaller batch.
A tractor spreads manure over a crop to encourage healthy growth by giving them needed nutrients.
Recipe Four – Fish Waste
Aquarium water and fish parts are excellent food sources for your plants, and they make a great food for plants. It takes more time and effort, but it delivers results. It’s going to have an odor too. To make a large batch, fill a 55-gallon drum ⅓ of the way up with one part fish waste and two parts water. Let it steep for a day. Once you reach the 24-hour mark, fill it the rest of the way up with water, cover it loosely, and let it ferment for two weeks.
You’ll use this at a ratio of three gallons for every 100 square feet. It adds dozens of nutrients to the soil, and you simply pour it around your plants or vegetables. You can scale it way back if you want to make a small batch for your houseplants, but the process is the same. If you have a freshwater aquarium, it’s a great way to recycle your used water.
Recipe Five – Green Tea
You most likely know that green tea is great for people, but it also has benefits for your plants in helping improve their health. It makes a simple but strong recipe. You can use weakened green tea once a month for your plant’s food, or you can use very diluted green tea instead of traditional water. It has high levels of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese.
To start, get a quart of water and brew your green tea. Let it brew, and then let it cool until it reaches room temperature. You don’t have to remove the tea bags. Save them and water your indoor plants with it once every four weeks. If you want to replace water with this mixture, get two gallons of water and brew a single tea bag. Follow the instructions for the stronger dose and use it to water your plants once a week.
This is what your green tea mixture will look like after you let it steep for a few hours after boiling it.
Recipe Six – Gelatin
It’s possible to incorporate almost anything, and this fertilizer is an excellent example of this. Gelatin has high nitrogen levels, and this can help your plants grow big and have large flowers or leaves.
To create this recipe, get a package of plain gelatin and add it to a cup of hot water. Stir it until the gelatine dissolves and add the mixture to three cups of cold water. When it cools down all of the way, pour it into the soil right around your plants. Repeat this once a month on both your indoor and outdoor plants.
Recipe Seven – Molasses
When you use molasses, it boosts the beneficial bacteria and microbes in the soil to keep the plant healthy. In turn, your plants can thrive and grow large leaves and blooms. To make it, get a gallon of water in a plastic jug or bottle. Add one to three tablespoons of molasses to the water and shake it well. Add this mixture to a spray bottle and spritz your plants once a week.
Recipe Eight – Complete Plant Food
If you want to boost every nutrient your plant needs and make sure everything balances, this is the recipe to try. Once you make it, you simply apply it to your plants one time every four to six weeks, and it works on indoor and outdoor plants. You’ll need:
- 1 teaspoon of potassium nitrate
- ½ teaspoon of ammonia
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of epsom salts
- 1 gallon jug with water
To start, fill the gallon jug almost all of the way full with water. Add each dry ingredient one by one, and give it a few hours to dissolve. Before you use it, give the jug a quick shake to mix everything together. Make sure it’s at room temperature, and store it in an airtight container.
Recipe Nine – Quick Fix Fertilizer Tea
If your plants are in rough shape and you don’t have time to wait weeks for a traditional fertilizer tea, this recipe acts like a quick fix. You’ll need an hour and the following ingredients before it’s ready to go:
- 1 gallon jug (empty)
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of ammonia
- 3 teaspoons of instant iced tea
- 3 teaspoons of molasses
- 3 tablespoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- ¼ cup of crushed bone scraps
- 1 crushed egg shell
- ½ of a dried banana peel
The ammonia will add nitrogen, and the instant iced tea has tannic acid. This acid helps your plants absorb more nutrients, and this ensures they’re able to balance their nutrient levels faster. The banana peel adds potassium to the mix, and the hydrogen peroxide gives your plants oxygen.
Add all of these ingredients to the empty gallon jug either in a cloth bag or without one. When you have them all in, fill the jug to the top with water. Seal it and let it sit and mix together for at least an hour. You’re now ready to water your plants. You can give them this mixture every month.
Different types of tea and ingredients in small cloth bags.
Recipe Ten – Vinegar and Water
Vinegar contains high levels of acetic acid. This acid works great at perking up certain types of plants like roses or houseplants. It also works well on vegetables. This simple recipe requires:
- 1 gallon of water
- 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
Fill the jug with water and add the tablespoon of vinegar. Seal the jug and give it a good shake to mix the vinegar and water. Water your plants with this fertilizer once every 90 days or so for the best results. Also, don’t substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has different nutrient properties.
Recipe Eleven – Bone Meal
You can buy bone meal, or you can make your own. If you make your own, it’s an excellent way to use food stuff that you would normally throw away. To start, get a quart pot with a lid and chicken bones. Clean the chicken bones so they don’t have any stray pieces of meat left. Put the bones in the water and boil them for two days. At night, switch your stove off and let them sit in the water. Also, top off the water periodically so it doesn’t boil dry.
Once the bones get soft, take them out and grind them up in a blender. You’ll get a fine powder that you can use wet or let it dry before you use it. Add this bone meal to your soil right around your plants. This is an excellent recipe for blooming plants or vegetables.
Recipe Twelve – Banana Peels
We all know that bananas are an excellent source of potassium, so it’s no surprise that banana peel fertilizer made the list. Bananas also have higher levels of phosphorus and calcium, and this makes them great for fertilizing fruit plants, fruit trees, and flowering plants. You can incorporate banana peels into your plant’s soil several ways.
The first thing you can do is bury the banana peels an inch below the surface of the soil at the base of your plants and let them start to decompose. If you have overripe bananas, freeze them. Take them out when you want to fertilize your plants and bury them in the soil. Finally, you can soak your banana peels in three cups of water for two or three days. Pour the water into a spray bottle and spray your seedlings or plants.
Recipe Thirteen – Egg Shells
The final fertilizer on our list is an egg shell fertilizer. Egg shells are something you most likely toss throughout the week. However, each egg shell has a lot of calcium, and this boosts your plant’s cellular growth levels. If your plants have a calcium deficiency, it can lead to blossom rot. Luckily, this recipe will stop it.
One way you can use egg shells is to crush them up and work them into the soil around your plants. Another thing you can do is make a spray. To make it, you’ll need a gallon of water and 20 egg shells. Put the shells into the water and boil them for 10 minutes. Switch the heat off and let the egg shells sit in the water overnight. Strain the shells out, pour the water into a spray bottle, and spray it directly onto your plant’s soil every few weeks. It works well for roses.
Several egg shells that you’d boil and strain out to create a healthy homemade plant food.
Create Your Homemade Plant Food Recipes
These 13 recipes give you everything you need to have happy, thriving, and beautiful plants both indoors and out. Try one or try them all and see which ones work best for your plants. You’ll be able to watch your savings add up too!
Ashley is a seasoned horticulturist with a passion for all things green. She has a Master Gardener Certificate and cultivated her expertise through over 10 years of hands-on experience in a thriving greenhouse environment. Her green thumb extends beyond work hours, as she relishes the joy of nurturing her own vibrant garden oasis. Inspired by the bountiful harvest, Ashley delights in canning the fruits of her labor and using homegrown herbs to elevate her culinary creations. Alongside her botanical endeavors, she eagerly tackles various DIY projects around the house, combining her creativity and practical skills to transform spaces into havens of beauty and functionality.