8 DIY Fertilizer Hacks for Houseplants and Gardens

Easy DIY Fertilizer Hacks for HouseplantsPhoto by Annie Spratt

It’s already April, which means our plants are ready to shake off those winter cobwebs and welcome spring. What better way is there to help them than by giving them some extra TLC with fertilizer? That doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend tons of money on plant food, though — you can nourish your plants with ingredients you have in your home!

Whether you have a garden or you simply want to keep your house plants in good shape, these easy DIY fertilizer hacks will have your plants blooming in no time. Check them out:

1. Add coffee grounds to the soil.

If you’re a caffeine fiend, you’re probably going through a lot of coffee grounds a day (guilty as charged). But instead of throwing them away, you can add them directly into the soil — coffee perks up plants as well as humans! The grounds add nitrogen in the soil, which is especially beneficial to roses, hydrangeas, and magnolias, though vegetables will be just as happy to have it, too.

Coffee Grounds for DIY Fertilizer HackPhoto by Andrea Tummons

2. Use tree leaves.

Leaves are rich with micro minerals, which are crucial to the health and proper development of plants. Leaves also help the soil retain moisture and attract earthworms. If you’re using leaves for indoor plants, you can crush them and mix them into potting soil, or use them as mulch to fertilize soil outside.

3. Try creating your own compost.

Whether you have a big plot of land or live in a small city apartment, there are lots of ways to create your own compost. Compost helps the soil absorb and retain nutrients and moisture, supporting healthy plant growth. Making compost can take anywhere between a few weeks to years, but once you’re able to add it to your soil, your garden will thank you!

4. Don’t scrap your banana peels.

Don’t throw away those banana peels — bury them in the soil and give your plants some much-needed potassium.

DIY Fertilizer Hacks for Houseplants with Banana PeelsPhoto by Louis Hansel

5. Crush eggshells and add them to the soil.

Eggshells are loaded with lime, a versatile mineral that helps lower the acidity of soil, and calcium, which also helps nourish plants. Just crush the eggshells into smaller pieces and add them into the soil!

6. Check your fireplace for ash.

This one might seem a little strange, but trust us, it works. The ash from your fireplace will provide your plants with vital calcium carbonate (the scientific name for lime) and potassium. Just scoop it out from the fireplace and massage it into the soil.

7. Whip up a DIY vinegar fertilizer.

Yes, some plants like vinegar. Who knew? Roses and other house plants will reap the benefits of vinegar’s acetic acid, which promotes root and flowering growth. Combine a tablespoon of white vinegar with a gallon of water, then use the solution about once every three months.

8. Try epsom salt.

You can use the same ratio as the vinegar fertilizer — one tablespoon for every gallon of water — to create an epsom salt fertilizer. This is a great option for house plants, which will benefit from the epsom salt’s magnesium and sulfate.


Cecilia Seiter
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She writes largely about sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty, wellness, and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Los Angeles, CA.