Pre-Spring Houseplant Care

With spring planting just around the corner, we used this week to shake the dust from our houseplants with some transplanting into larger containers, trimming leaves back, and waking up some bulbs. In this blog we'll give you some simple DIY fertilizer recipes for your houseplants, and a quick run-down of what's going on inside at Better Farm.

DIY Plant Steroids
Here are some simple homemade fertilizer recipes for your houseplants:
  • Give houseplants your leftover, cold coffee. This works particularly well for ivy plants.
  • Once a month, you can water your houseplants with a mixture of: 1 tablespoon Epsom Salts, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. household ammonia, and 1 gallon of water.
  • Another method is to collect eggshells after baking and place them in a glass jar covered with water. Don't put the lid on tight. Let the eggshells sit for about a month and keep adding additional egg shells as you acquire them. Add more water if necessary. When you are ready to fertilize, dilute it (1 cup egg shell solution to 1 gallon plain water) and use it to water all of your plants. Or, mix finely crushed, rinsed eggshells into your potting soil to give your houseplants a good boost. The eggshells are a good substitute for bonemeal.
  • If you have a fish tank, when you change the water in the tank, use the water you take out to water your plants.
  • Once a month, pour room-temperature beer onto your plants.
  • A wonderful plant food is regular green tea. Dilute the tea with two gallons of water. You can use this every time you water.
  • Another homemade plant food recipe featuring beer is: 1 cup beer, 1 cup epsom salts, 1/2 cup ammonia, and 2 cups water. Use 1/2 oz. on each plant every two weeks. Great for all houseplants, especially orchids.
  • One last recipe is: 1 cup used coffee grounds, egg shells from 2 eggs (process in coffee grinder), 1/16 oz. ammonia, 1 cup water, 1/8 tsp. Epson salts. Stir together until well mixed. You can spoon this mixture around the base of most flowering plants, except for African Violets. Don't mix it into the soil, just let is sit on top if the soil. Apply this mixture monthly.
Bulbs are watered, edged in moss, and kept in a sunny location with much anticipation. This bulb was a Christmas gift from the Cohens in Ridgewood, N.J.
Bulbs given to us last fall from neighbor Al Streeter were stored in the basement all winter. Now four pots of bulbs are fully hydrated and enjoying sunnier days. Stay tuned for pics in the coming weeks!
 Air Purifiers and Vines
Leaves on this air purifier are trained up the hanger and will eventually run throughout the kitchen.

This Neon Pothos is a new addition (thanks to Amberlee Clement for bringing us several plants!) that will climb the library walls.

This pot is bursting with various kinds of ivy that will travel along library walls.

These jade and cactus plants are clippings from larger plants.

...another angle of the jade and cactus.
A succulent given to us by Jaci Collins
Teeming cactus plants

Hens and chicks.
Another jade plant.

A freshly re-potted plant that has been growing in leaps and bounds

Here's what we do during our pre-spring houseplant clean-up:
  • Overcrowded plants get bigger vessels in which to grow
  • Dusty leaves are wiped off
  • Fresh compost and soil is added to pots in need
  • Water from our aquaponics is used to give the plants a high dose of vitamins and minerals
  • Dead leaves are trimmed
  • Some plants are cut and those trimmings planted to establish new growth
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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.