Plants need nutrients for healthy and abundant growth. However, the plants can also be fertilized in a natural way, so that it is not necessary to buy a long-term or liquid fertilizer from stores. Biological waste from your own household, such as coffee grounds and eggshells, is also able to supply potted and garden plants with the necessary minerals. Recycle your waste wisely and save money with optimal and sustainable care for your useful and ornamental plants.

The ideal fertilizer for plants: coffee grounds

Coffee is more than a stimulating drink. Because if used correctly, coffee grounds can become a true all-rounder in your own garden. Mixed directly under the substrate, coffee grounds are an important source of important minerals. The phosphorus contained in coffee grounds, for example, makes a significant contribution to the formation of flowers and seeds by stimulating the plants’ metabolism. Potassium is also found in large quantities in the ground beans, which promotes the vitality of the plants. The fertilized plants hardly suffer from a nitrogen deficiency and leaf discoloration. Do not throw away the ground and scalded beans, but recycle them in your own flower bed and thereby prevent a multitude of deficiency symptoms.

Fertilizing with coffee grounds has other advantages for your plants:

  • Earthworms are attracted.
  • Keeps snails and cats away.
  • Pest infestation is reduced.

Avoid mold formation in the soil by only mixing the ground coffee beans into the substrate when they are dry. If you have sufficient quantities, you can also use the dried coffee grounds in the garden. Coffee grounds are considered a slow-acting fertilizer due to their high nitrogen content. The filter paper, as well as the packaging of the pads and capsules, have no place in the garden or in potted plants.

Tip: You can also dilute the coffee grounds with lime-free water and distribute it evenly over the substrate. However, leaves and shoots should not be brought into contact with this brew.

A versatile alternative

Even if you are not one of the coffee drinkers, you do not have to do without an organic and inexpensive fertilizer. Tea grounds also promote the growth of plants and at the same time serve as food for microorganisms in the soil. Just like coffee grounds, the remains of the tea should dry well before you mix it with the substrate. This prevents any mold growth in the floor.

Tea grounds do not have the same high nutrient content as coffee grounds, but they have been shown to loosen the soil. An infusion from old tar residues can also be used as a fertilizer and remedy at the same time. Black tea is well suited to fertilize ferns and succulents because these plants are extremely economical in their consumption of nutrients. A tea made from nettles has proven to be very effective against aphids, but it has to be steeped for a period of about 12 hours beforehand. If you need an antibacterial brew to combat mild fungal diseases, you should use chamomile tea.

Tip: Tea leaves on the compost enrich it with valuable minerals as it decomposes.

Eggshells and other alternatives

Other organic household products also improve soil quality and plant growth. For example, you can use dried and crushed eggshells to raise the pH of acidic soil. However, the quantities of eggshells that arise for personal use are so small that fertilizing them is only worthwhile for balcony and indoor plants. When using them, however, make sure that not all plants can tolerate lime, and avoid fertilizing with eggshells for these plants. You can also place larger remains of peel directly in the water the day before and distribute this brew evenly over the substrate. Dispose of the rest of the eggshells in the compost as usual so that they can decompose there.

Another natural fertilizer variation is the low-salt cooking water from potatoes and vegetables. Feed the washed out nutrients to the substrate as irrigation water. Even if you have your own aquarium at home, when you change the water you can dispose of the “old water” directly on your useful and ornamental plants.

Other well-known fertilization methods include:

  • Wood ash – Natural ash, without additives such as chipboard, plastic or paint, provides the plants with valuable potassium. Mix the substrate directly with the ash.
  • Banana peels – The peel of organic bananas, cut into small pieces, act as a depot fertilizer in the top layer of the earth.
  • Onion skins – mixed directly under the substrate as a broth or cut into small pieces, the onion skins provide the plant with important minerals for a longer period of time. In addition, they effectively counteract pests and fungal attack.
  • Cigarette  ash – Without the filter, cigarette ash is also very suitable as a fertilizer for plants. Some pests, such as aphids, are sensitive to the smell of these ashes and will avoid the fertilized area.

The right technique for fertilizing

The fertilizing season usually starts in spring. Many indoor plants also take a vegetation break in the cold winter months and should not be fertilized during this time. And organic home remedies can also cause an oversupply of nutrients. Scatter a thin layer of coffee or tea grounds over the substrate and work it gently under. Before repotting potted plants, you can mix normal potting soil with a large amount of coffee grounds or wood ash. Coffee has the advantage that the minerals only dissolve slowly and act like a kind of depot fertilizer.

The intervals at which fertilization should be carried out depends on the plants and the nature of the soil. For example, cacti, palms and ferns require far fewer nutrients than fast-growing and flowering plants. It is not always possible to mix the dried tea and coffee grounds directly under the soil. Dilute the whole thing with water and water the plants with this liquid regularly.

Tips and Tricks

  • How often you fertilize depends on the type of plant and cultivation in question. Heavily draining plants such as cucumbers, geraniums and oleanders require a 14-day supply of nutrients. However, it is completely sufficient if you only fertilize weak consumers once a month. These plants include ferns, flamingo flowers, beans, and root vegetables, among others.
  • Test the tea infusion on a small area first before pouring a larger amount over the substrate or plants.
  • Tea and coffee grounds should always be dried before they are added to the potting soil. In this way you avoid putrefaction and do not provide a breeding ground for fungal pathogens.
  • Always dispose of pads, filters, bags and clips separately and only use the contents.
  • Do not allow coffee grounds to come into direct contact with the leaves of the plants.
  • Certain types of tea are suitable for the targeted control of pests and fungal diseases. To do this, dissolve the tea leaves in boiling water and let this brew steep for at least 12 hours. You can use it to spray the substrate – or individual parts of the plant – with an atomizer. Repeat the process for a few days. The tea grounds used can continue to be used in dried form.

Plants outdoors and in flower pots can be fertilized organically and sustainably with simple and inexpensive means from the household. With coffee grounds, potato water and the like, you not only provide your plants with valuable nutrients, but also counteract pest and fungal infestation at the same time.

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