Today I am going to show you an Easy homemade plant food that is SO affordable AND it’s actually effective. I will even tell you why it is.
The coolest thing about being a chemist would be the experimenting and research of chemicals. Chemicals are truly in everything. Food, beauty products, cleaning products, and especially gardening products like fertilizers.
If you read this blog often, you know Chemistry Cachet is all about making your life easier, healthier, and more affordable all through understanding chemicals.
Today, I want to share with you a really cheap option for feeding your plants. My easy homemade plant food was made for less than $4.00 and that was for all the supplies. Per batch, it is actually just pennies to make!
Store bought plant food, like Miracle Grow, is great. It is very effective and just easy to buy, but the truth is, these products are massed produced. This means they have numerous chemicals that are unnecessary for your plants. They are really just fillers.
On the other hand, store bought Organic plant foods can get pricey. Especially for the good brands.
You can definitely get away with not feeding your plants any fertilizer, but potted plants this time of year can start looking pretty bad. This heat and lack of rain really suck the nutrients out of the soil, and potted plants don’t have a way to replenish that.
This post I shared about how I grow big huge roses talked a little about some organic options I love like egg shells and coffee grounds. These deliver great nutrients like calcium and nitrogen.
Using all types of these organic methods is still a great option, but they aren’t very potent and they can take a while to break down I the soil. That is the type of method I like for plants that are in flower beds.
But the trick for potted plants is an easy, fast acting nutrient dense food that acts like miracle grow!
Easy homemade plant food is the perfect option for any patio gardener. And like I said, it was a total of $4.00 for all these products and you will only use a very tiny amount of each one. So, this means you can get hundreds of batches out of this!
Find our great slow release plant organic plant food in Chemistry Hacks for Home and Outdoor.
Chemistry Cachet’s Easy Homemade Plant Food
(Miracle Grow Replacement)
- 1.5 tbsp magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salt – MgSO4)
- 1.5 tsp sodium bicarbonate (Baking Soda – NaHCO3)
- 0.25 – 0.5 tsp Ammonium Hydroxide (Ammonia – NH4OH)***
- 1 gallon of water (H20)
In a water container, add all the ingredients. Top with one gallon of water and stir. I water about 5 or 6 big plants with this. You don’t want to add this entire amount to one plant. A little goes a long way!
***Many have asked why such a small amount of ammonia and why the variance in the amount. Ammonia can be potent, so a little tiny bit goes a long way. With hot summer temperatures, I usually go with the 0.25 tsp of ammonia. I don’t want to give the potted plant too much that may risk burning leaves. This is very unlikely to happen however. You can use up to 0.5 tsp of ammonia and the solution will be just fine. It will be a little stronger, but equally as safe for plants.
Let’s check out why this solution even works. Feel free to pin this infograph below!!
After using this solution, my potted plants are more vivid, bright, and healthier.
The plant below was a hibiscus that I brought into the garage over the winter. During the winter, it went dormant almost like it was dead. In the spring, I trimmed it back and started taking care of it with my easy hibiscus tips.
I started feeding it with some of this homemade plant food every few weeks since it is in a huge container. The plant started growing faster and is really dark green now! And it finally has some buds on it too. There hasn’t been any buds on it since last year! I will update you with a picture on snapchat (add me with username alexisroch) so you can see!
Update: Here is another photos of this same plant after two applications of this plant food. I applied it once, then again about 3 weeks later. It has really enhanced the blooms and dark green color. I also added in phosphorous, see note below for this important tip.
Now for an important chemist tip.
+I definitely want to point out that this easy homemade plant food is missing a chemical, phosphorus. Phosphorus is found in most store bought solutions and helps with root growth. It is harder to get in a household item compared to sulfur, nitrogen, and magnesium.
+ Phosphorus is going to be more important depending on your soil and especially in flower beds. From my personal experience, my potted plants do okay without since the potting soil I use typically contains it.
+To make this homemade solution even more amazing, you can buy these organic phosphorus rocks to add into the mix. Just a small amount.
+ For added calcium, just use crushed egg shells (read what I do in this post). Although I used to use them for my roses, I now add it to all potted plants especially after a long dry summer. It is the perfect addition of calcium for potted plants.
To Get Really Accurate:
You can also take it one step further and get your flower bed soil tested. When I took horticulture, we did some soil testing and discovered the area we lived in was not phosphorus deficient, so it wasn’t needed as much.
Again, this is just extra steps if you really want to get crazy. I have tested this out and it works good without the phosphorus on potted plants. It also works wonders on Boston Ferns. In fact, I have been experimenting with MANY tips on Boston Ferns to share with you soon. They have become my new favorite back yard plant!
I really love how chemistry and gardening go hand in hand. If you want to keep up with chemist tips on gardening, baking, and healthy living, please follow me below 🙂
Do you have a solution for homemade weed killer?
I do! Visit my homemade weed killer post here and it also works for ants!
What about the phosphorous?
Please read above for the phosphorus rock option.
What about calcium?
I also mention what I do for calcium.
Isn’t ammonia bad for plants?
Ammonia is what gives this nitrogen. Ammonia is also found in many organic options like manure, etc. In diluted small does, it will not harm plants. You may notice this is a very small amount of ammonia. I have found that it is just the right amount needed for potted plants.
Should I water the leaves or the soil?
We have tested out both. Both work well, BUT in the summer, in extremely hot temperatures (like in Texas) it is best to not put directly on the leaves so it doesn’t burn. Many fertilizers can burn the leaves of the plant if used to much or in hot sun, so this is a good practice for other ones.
Can this work for vegetables?
I would test it. This is definitely made for flowering plants, but I have had a few readers use on vegetables with luck. Please always test first.
Once a month for potted plants. At the most! Do not use this entire solution on one potted plant. Treat it like you would a store bought solution, so it will feed many plants.
Do you a dry plant food option?
YES!! I have developed one and finally completed it, it will be in my upcoming book. Stay tuned for details!
DISCLAIMER: I am a chemist and have studied horticulture in college. This is a simple feeding solution that can benefit plants that lack certain nutrients. It is a complete plant food as mentioned above, but is great for potted plants and new gardeners. ALWAYS TEST YOUR PLANTS FIRST!!
For Organic Slow Release Plant Food Check out Our Ebook Below!