What you should know about fertilizing
Since houseplants naturally grow outdoors in the countryside and sometimes not in our latitudes, it is important to give them a little fertilizer to help them. Especially in spring after the resting phase, the plant needs a lot of nutrients. Proper fertilization can support healthy growth and prevent deficiency symptoms. Here we present a few useful tips and explain how you can easily make fertilizer yourself.
Why do plants actually need fertilizer?
That's a good question and easy to answer too. Plants that we put in the apartment or on the balcony in summer do not naturally grow in our natural environment. It is mostly tropical and Mediterranean plants that are used to a different climate and vegetation. Nutrients that are absorbed through the soil are usually available for decades.
However, since we keep the plants in a pot at home, after a while the plants no longer have enough nutrients in the soil. But that's not so wild! First of all, we will help you to understand what kind of nutrients the plant needs, what you have to pay special attention to and how you can make fertilizer yourself.
What nutrients are important for the plant?
We know: Plants need nutrients to survive. But which ones are particularly important and what happens if the plant has too much or too little of it?
Nitrogen: the plant needs it for growth and the formation of green leaves. An excess is indicated by dark green leaves and long, weak and thin shoots. The plants are more susceptible to pests and diseases. Deficiency manifests itself as poor growth and small light green to yellow leaves.
Phosphorus: is very important for flower formation, root growth and the formation of chlorophyll. An excess is reflected in growth disorders. Deficiency symptoms are expressed by weak root growth, small flowers and leaves. Sometimes the undersides of the leaves also turn blue-green to violet and the tops show a brownish discoloration.
Calcium: deacidifies the soil and improves soil aeration. It increases the availability of other nutrients and stimulates cell division. Too much calcium causes yellowish-green leaves and leads to the death of young parts of the plant.
Magnesium: is necessary for the formation of leafy green and protein and regulates the water balance of the plant.
If older leaves become blotchy and yellowish, but the leaf veins remain green, this is a sign of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium excess usually also leads to a calcium deficiency.
Sulphur: is a component of important compounds, some of which protect against insect damage, for example. This important plant nutrient can be released through emissions from e.g. industry or traffic and is therefore usually sufficiently available for plants. A deficiency usually leads to growth inhibition in younger leaves.
Potassium: ensures that the plant has an appropriate water balance. It strengthens the cell tissue and makes the plant more resilient. If there is a potassium deficiency, root formation is often impaired. Too much potassium reduces the absorption of magnesium.
You can find more interesting facts about nutrient uptake by plants here.
What are fertilizers from the hardware store made of?
In the hardware store you will find a lot of ways to fertilize your plants.Whether as a special, long-term, liquid or organic fertilizer, they all contain different nutrient compositions. You can also buy complete fertilizer in the hardware store, which consists of all three basic components NPK (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) as well as trace elements.
Complete fertilizer can be used universally and has a balanced nutrient ratio. That means all 3 numbers on the back of the packaging are almost the same. You can also save yourself the trip to the nearest hardware store and simply make fertilizer yourself.
What should you pay particular attention to when fertilizing?
If your plant already has deficiency symptoms, it is usually too late, because fertilizer is not a cure for plants. It is important that you fertilize regularly and well dosed. In spring and summer you can fertilize your plants every 2 weeks, in late autumn you give the plant a little less and in winter almost nothing.
Tip: Make sure you give the plant some water with or after fertilizing so the nutrients are more available to plants.
Make fertilizer yourself: it's that easy!
Now it's getting down to business, here are the 3 eagerly awaited recipes for your personal organic fertilizer:
Recipe 1: Fertilizer from the Kitchen - Coffee Grounds
If you like drinking coffee, you can even do something good for your plants with coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are incredibly high in nitrogen and high in sulfur and phosphorus. You can easily make DIY fertilizer yourself with coffee grounds.
Step 1: Before you use the coffee grounds as fertilizer, you should first collect them over several days. Otherwise it's hardly worth walking through the garden with every single filter bag.
Step 2: the most important step is drying. It is best to let your coffee grounds dry in the sun over a larger area. Without the drying process it can happen that your potting soil with the fertilizer starts to mold.
Step 3: You can now work a thin layer of your self-dried coffee grounds flat into the soil surface for each plant.
Tip: If you just scatter the homemade fertilizer, it decomposes very slowly and the effect is too small.
Recipe 2: A Gift from the Chicken Coop - Eggshell Fertilizer
It's even easier to make fertilizer yourself. After making an egg, be sure to save the eggshell! Egg shells contain a lot of lime and increase the pH of your soil.
Step 1: Put the crushed egg shell in a container with water and let it sit for a few hours.
Step 2: You can now remove the eggshell, as it will not decompose.
Step 3: Now you can water your plants with the enriched water.
Tip: since eggshell increases pH, you should not use it for plants that prefer acidic soil (e.g. hydrangeas, carnivorous plants).
Recipe 3: Garden Fertilizer - Nettle Manure
The rather unwanted weeds in the garden can be converted into a great fertilizer cure in no time at all. In addition to the important nutrients, nettle manure acts as a deterrent to pests. Make your own fertilizer from stinging nettles, it's that easy:
Step 1: It is best to use a large container made of plastic, stone or wood. Avoid using metal vessels as there may be a chemical reaction of the manure during fermentation. Place the jar in a place that is as sunny and warm as possible.
Step 2: Chop up 1kg nettles and put them in the container, which you then fill up with 10 liters of water to just under the brim
Step 3: You should let the manure steep for about 14 days, after which it is ready. It now has a brown color and no more blisters form. You can now close them tightly, store them in the dark and use them for the entire gardening season.
Step 4: Dilute the nettle manure 1:10 with water and pour it directly into the root area.
Tip: Nettle manure smells very unpleasant, so you should rather store it outside on your balcony or in the garden.
Whether with eggshell, coffee grounds or nettles, you can now easily make your own fertilizer with these 3 ingredients. Try it out now! Don't have enough plants for your homemade fertilizer? Then take a look at our site and let yourself be inspired.