Recipes for Homemade Plant Food


9 Recipes for Homemade Plant Food

You’d prefer homemade plant food for your precious houseplants, and now you’re looking for some great recipes. This way, you can continue nourishing your indoor plants without any chemicals or other unwanted ingredients. Where can you find recipes for homemade plant food? We did some digging to bring you the answer.

What are some recipes for homemade plant food? The following recipes for homemade plant food will nourish your indoor plants:

  • Classic plant food (household ammonia + baking soda + Epsom salt)
  • Manure tea fertilizer (tea + manure)
  • Fast fertilizer (banana peel + bone scraps + hydrogen peroxide + blackstrap molasses + instant iced tea + ammonia + baking powder)
  • Grass clipping fertilizer (water + weeds + grass clippings)
  • Seaweed fertilizer (rainwater + seaweed)
  • Molasses-based fertilizer (water + molasses)
  • Fish emulsion fertilizer (water + fish waste)
  • Coffee grounds fertilizer (water + coffee grounds)
  • Basic tea fertilizer (wood ash + urine + Epsom salt + water + grass clippings)

Intrigued by any of those plant food recipes? Want to try some soon? Then keep reading, as we’ll go deeper into each recipe, sharing steps and ingredient quantities. We’ll even talk about some natural items you probably already have in your kitchen that you can use as a fertilizer.

Let’s begin!

9 Homemade Plant Food Recipes to Make Today

Classic Plant Food Recipe

This plant food recipe comes up again and again among gardeners, so we had to start with this one. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Water
  • Household ammonia (½ teaspoon)
  • Baking soda (1 ½ teaspoons)
  • Epsom salt (1 ½ tablespoons)
  • Gallon jug

Step 1: Take a clear gallon jug and wash it out, ensuring there’s no residue from any previous beverages. It’s ideal if this jug is transparent.

Step 2: Add in your baking soda.

Step 3: Going very sparingly, pinch in some household ammonia. You don’t have to use the entire half teaspoon, as less is more in this instance.

Step 4: With whatever space remains in the jug, pour in water. The water you get from the tap should suffice here.

Step 5: Put the lid of your jug back on, ensuring it’s secure. Then shake the jug up, letting the ingredients move around until they’re mixed evenly.

Step 6: Wait a half hour or longer. This will let the Epsom salt break down in the mix.

Step 7: Feed this liquid plant food to your houseplant as necessary.

Step 8: When not in use, keep the container of plant food in a dry, cool environment. You can enjoy it for quite a while.

Manure Tea Fertilizer Recipe

Yes, manure is kind of gross, but we also have a recipe with human urine in it, so it could be worse. Besides, this manure tea not only provides your houseplant with the nutrients it requires, but it also improves the soil quality. It’s worth making for sure.

You need the following ingredients to whip up some manure tea for your houseplants:

  • Plastic bucket (at least 5 gallons)
  • Water (5:1 ratio of water to manure)
  • Manure (at least a shovel’s worth)
  • Spare pillowcase or burlap sack

Step 1: Let your manure mature to a point where it’s decently aged. This is considered cured and is very important to the recipe. Young manure might have too much bacteria to benefit your houseplants.

Step 2: Transfer the manure to your pillowcase or burlap sack, creating what’s essentially a giant manure teabag.

Step 3: Grab your plastic bucket and put the tea bag inside it. Then, pour in water in the ratio of 5:1 water to manure.

Step 4: Wait for two weeks. Yes, you have to play the long game a bit, but that’s how long it will take for the manure to fully steep. Remember, you’re working with big quantities here, so have some patience.

Step 5: Once that time has elapsed, take the teabag out of the bucket, but let it dangle until all the excess water pours out.

Step 6: Dilute the plant food with more water, as otherwise, the houseplant’s foliage or roots can end up burnt.

Step 7: Apply when your houseplants need watering or more seldom than that.

Fast Fertilizer Recipe

Can’t wait several weeks to make your plant food? That’s okay. This next recipe will take up much less of your time. Here’s how to get started.

  • Banana peel (½, make sure it’s dried out)
  • ¼ cup bone scraps (break them up)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3 tablespoons of the 3-percent kind)
  • Blackstrap molasses (3 teaspoons)
  • Instant iced tea (3 teaspoons)
  • Ammonia (1 teaspoon)
  • Baking powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Water
  • Gallon jug

Step 1: Once again, you want an empty gallon jug that you can see through, such as a milk jug. Just make sure it’s completely clean with no milk residue.

Step 2: Take your hydrogen peroxide, blackstrap molasses, instant iced tea, ammonia, and baking powder and dump them all into the jug. Hydrogen peroxide allows the soil to aerate since it provides more air during decomposition. Molasses can supplement the healthful bacteria for soil while the tannic acid from instant iced tea promotes nutrient absorption. Oh, and ammonia has the nitrogen indoor plants need.

Step 3: Add your banana peel and your bone scraps. Fish bones work, as they’re a good source of potassium, as are the bananas.

Step 4: Pour in water until the jug is full, using rainwater if you can.

Step 5: Put the cap on the jug and place it in a sunny room such as your kitchen. You can also move the jug outside if it’s a nice enough day. Give it an hour.

Step 6: Coat your houseplants in the fertilizer while it’s still warm.

Grass Clipping Fertilizer Recipe

Hold onto those grass clippings you accumulate as you do your gardening. As they begin degrading, their nitrogen content goes up. Make sure you have the following ingredients as well for this handy recipe:

  • Water (1:10 ratio of liquid grass to water)
  • Weeds and grass (5 gallons)
  • Plastic bucket (5 gallons)

Step 1: Take your plastic bucket and clean it out if necessary.

Step 2: Add your weeds or grass. You can even use a combination of the two.

Step 3: Pour in your water, filling the rest of the bucket.

Step 4: Wait at least 24 hours, preferably 48 if you can swing it. The greens need time to steep.

Step 5: You want to dilute the mixture a bit before using it on your houseplants. Follow the ratio above to do this.

Step 6: Cover your houseplant’s base with the grass tea.

Seaweed Fertilizer

If you’ve ever been to a beach, then surely you’re familiar with seaweed. It might not feel great wrapped around your leg in the ocean, but indoor plants love it. The mannitol in the seaweed encourages better nutrient absorption.

Now, you may not live anywhere near a beach and thus don’t have a fresh source of seaweed. That’s okay. You can order the dried stuff online or buy it in a store if you know of one that sells it. Just make sure it’s not salted. If it is, you have to remove all the salt yourself.

Here are the recipe quantities:

  • Water
  • Seaweed (8 cups)
  • Bucket (5 gallons)

Step 1: Take your bucket and pour in rainwater until the bucket is roughly half full.

Step 2: Add your seaweed.

Step 3: Put a makeshift cover on the bucket using whatever’s handy in your kitchen (plastic wrap, paper plates, etc.).

Step 4: Wait three weeks. Yes, this is another one of those drawn-out recipes, but your houseplants will adore the finished product.  

Step 5: When your seaweed fertilizer is finally ready, you want to take half of it and pour into a half-cup of water. Then apply the plant food to your houseplants via a watering can.

Molasses-Based Fertilizer Recipe

As we talked about before, molasses keeps the healthful bacteria in the soil strong. How? Molasses contains microbes that the bacteria eats.

This homemade molasses-based plant food recipe for houseplants is incredibly simple and doesn’t take a lot of prep time. Even beginner gardeners can master it.

Grab the following ingredients:

  • Plastic bucket
  • Water
  • Molasses (1 to 3 tablespoons)

Step 1: Take your bucket and fill it with a gallon of water.

Step 2: Stir in your molasses. It’s always better to start with a bit of molasses, such as a tablespoon, and add more if necessary.

Step 3: When you’re pleased with the state of your fertilizer, apply to your houseplants.

Fish Emulsion Fertilizer Recipe

This is another one of those homemade plant food recipes that isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world, admittedly. In case you’re not familiar, fish emulsion is the nice way of saying fish waste. You know, like the guts and other unwanted parts of a fish.

You will need a strong stomach, because as this recipe preps over a few weeks, the smell can get pretty overwhelming.

Grab the following and you’re ready to go:

  • Fish waste (2:1 ratio of water to fish waste)
  • Water
  • Drum (55 gallons)

Step 1: Make sure you have a drum here, not a bucket. You don’t want to try making this recipe in a 5-gallon bucket. Trust us.

Step 2: Prepare your quantities of fish waste and water (2:1 ratio) and then fill the drum 1/3rd of the way.

Step 3: Wait at least a day (yes, a full 24 hours). As we said, the fertilizer can get pretty smelly, so maybe keep the drum outside for now.

Step 4: Fill the rest of the drum with water. You’ll need a lot of water to get this done, well over 40 gallons.

Step 5: Put a cover on, but not an airtight lid. Yes, that means the smell can permeate. Sorry about that, but it’s necessary. The smell is also about to get a lot stronger.

Step 6: Wait three weeks or more for the fermentation process to finish.

Step 7: For each 100 square feet of your indoor garden, add 3 gallons of the fish emulsion fertilizer. Keep reusing as needed, as you’ll sure have a lot of the fertilizer to go around!

Coffee Grounds Fertilizer Recipe

Okay, here’s a recipe that’s a lot more palatable. This one uses coffee grounds, which will especially benefit indoor plants like blueberries and tomatoes. These houseplants like the acid, which they’ll get in sufficient quantities thanks to the coffee grounds. The grounds are also a great source of nitrogen.

You don’t need a ton of ingredients, either. Here’s what you should have:

  • Bucket (5 gallons)
  • Coffee grounds (6 cups)

Step 1: Take your empty bucket (clean, of course) and add your liquid coffee grounds.

Step 2: Wait 48 to 72 hours for the coffee to steep.

Step 3: Cover your houseplant soil with the mixture.

Basic Tea Fertilizer Recipe

We’ll wrap up our recipes with another easy one sure to suit beginner gardeners. It does have a long ingredients list, and yes, it does require human urine. Besides all that? This recipe is easy-peasy.

Make sure you have the following:

  • Wood ash (2 cups)
  • Urine (2 cups)
  • Epsom salt (¼ cup)
  • Weeds, green leaves, or grass clippings
  • Bucket (5 gallons)

Step 1: In your clean plastic bucket, add your wood ash, urine, and Epsom salt.

Step 2: Take your weeds, green leaves, or grass clippings and put these in the bucket until it’s almost full. If using weeds, make sure they’re green. Pruned leaves work the best if you’d rather use those.

Step 3: Now pour in water until the bucket is filled to the very top.

Step 4: Wait three days for the whole mix to finish steeping.

Step 5: When that time passes, use a strainer to pass the mixture into two-liter bottles or empty, cleaned milk jugs.

Step 6: Dilute your tea by filling it halfway with water.

Step 7: Pour the tea on your indoor plant’s soil when it needs some nutrients.

Common Household Ingredients for Indoor Plant Food

Looking for more ingredients to make homemade plant food? The following can all act as natural fertilizers for houseplants. Try them today!

  • Powdered milk: The calcium in powdered milk makes it a great food for your hungry houseplant. Sprinkle a dash of the powder in the soil before you put your plant in the pot.
  • Matches: Although you wouldn’t think so, matches can go in your houseplant’s soil. Dig a hole with your fingertip and put an unused match in the soil, burying the whole thing. The magnesium in the match will help your houseplant grow and excel.
  • Hair: You already used human urine in a homemade plant food recipe, so human hair isn’t that big of a stretch. The nitrogen in your silky strands benefits your plant.
  • Green tea: You do want to make sure it’s diluted, but an application of green tea can be used as a substitute for water about once a month.
  • Gelatin: Rather than make another Jell-O mold, use that gelatin packet for your houseplant. The nitrogen in it makes your plants happy. Give them this treat monthly, mixing cold water (3 cups), hot water (1 cup), and the gelatin packet.
  • Eggshells: Packed with calcium, phosphoric acid, and nitrogen, eggshells are a great ingredient for indoor plants. You want to grind the shells down into a powder and then add to the soil.
  • Corn gluten meal: With 10 percent nitrogen content, try some corn gluten meal instead of store-bought fertilizer for your houseplant. Don’t bury this deep into the soil, only within the first inch.
  • Cooking water: Wait! Keep that cooking water after dinner is done. If you used it for pasta, eggs, vegetables, or potatoes, then it can double as a natural plant food. Never dump hot water into your houseplant’s soil, though.

Related Questions

Is sugar water good for plants?

With the myriad of ingredients described in this article, you might think that some good, old-fashioned sugar wouldn’t really hurt your houseplants, right? Unfortunately not.

As we’ve written about before, indoor plants photosynthesize. When they do this, the plant produces its own sugar. If you try to add outside sources of sugar, you can accidentally kill the plant.

Can Epsom salt kill plants?

Speaking of killing plants, what about Epsom salt? With this salt appearing in many of the homemade plant food recipes we shared, it’s a perfectly helpful and healthful ingredient for houseplants. In fact, if you ever have slugs invade your indoor garden, Epsom salt will ward them off! How helpful.

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

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