Keep Your Plants Healthy - the Easy Way!
Posted by Lise Neely on 03/28/2023
Don’t you just love your houseplants? Everyday plants, like philodendron, pothos ivy and ferns, give a cheerful, organic vibe to any living space. Even better, you can keep your plants healthy using some simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. No need for expensive commercial fertilizers that harm the environment! In this post, I’ll tell you about natural alternatives that you can use to fertilize your houseplants, like oats and tea.
Let’s start with oats. Oats are a great source of nitrogen, an essential element for plant growth. Nitrogen is responsible for the development of plant leaves and stems. It is also a key component of plant proteins and chlorophyll, which are vital for photosynthesis. Additionally, oats are rich in phosphorus and potassium, which support healthy root development.
Tea, on the other hand, is rich in tannins, which are also beneficial to plants. Tannins are natural compounds that protect plants from pests and diseases by making them unpalatable. Tannins also help to improve soil structure and increase water retention. Additionally, tea contains antioxidants, which can help to stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the soil, improving overall soil health.
So, how do you use oats and tea as fertilizers for your plants? Here are a few methods:
Method 1: Oat Water
Oat water is a simple and effective way to provide your plants with a slow-release source of nitrogen. To make oat water, simply soak a cup of rolled oats in a gallon of water overnight. The next day, strain the oats and use the resulting liquid to water your plants. You can repeat this process every two weeks to provide your plants with a steady supply of nutrients.
When making oat water, be sure to use raw oats, rolled oats or steel-cut oats. Regular, old-fashioned oatmeal also works as a fertilizer. That’s because most of the nitrogen in oats is concentrated in the inner kernel, not in the outer husk. Do not use quick-cooking or instant oatmeal, however, because these types of oats are pre-cooked and not as beneficial for your plants. Any brand is fine - use whatever you’ve got in your pantry.
Method 2: Tea Leaves
To use tea leaves as a fertilizer, simply sprinkle used tea leaves around the base of your plants. Alternatively, you can brew a weak tea solution by steeping a handful of tea leaves in a gallon of water for a few hours. Use this solution to water your plants every two weeks. Choose any brand of black tea for plant fertilizer. Either regular or decaffeinated black tea will work fine; both have plenty of tannins. Green tea also contains tannins. Avoid using white tea and herbal teas as plant fertilizer because these varieties contain fewer tannins - instead, enjoy them as a delicious beverage.
Method 3: Compost Tea
Compost tea is a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer that you can make using a combination of oats and tea. To make compost tea, start by soaking a cup of rolled oats in a gallon of water overnight. The next day, add a handful of used tea leaves to the mixture and let it steep for another 24 hours. Strain the mixture and use the resulting liquid to water your plants.
All of these methods are simple to use. I’m a fan of compost tea. After just a single treatment, all my houseplants perked up nicely. Even the finicky fiddle-leaf fern plant liked it! You can bet I’ll be brewing up compost tea in the flower shop as well. My team and I will be using it to fertilize our dish gardens, peace lilies, and all the other beautiful green plants that we offer for local delivery to our customers. (Note however that some flowering plants, like orchids, may require special care.)
Why do oats and tea work as houseplant fertilizers?
Now that you know how to use oats and tea as fertilizers, let's explore why they work so well. The main reason oats and tea are effective fertilizers is that they are organic, natural, and free of harmful chemicals. Unlike commercial fertilizers, which can contain synthetic chemicals that can harm the environment and accumulate in the soil over time, oats and tea are safe, sustainable, and eco-friendly.
Moreover, oats and tea are slow-release fertilizers, which means they release nutrients slowly over time. This slow-release mechanism provides a steady supply of nutrients to your plants, ensuring their long-term health and growth. Additionally, slow-release fertilizers reduce the risk of nutrient leaching, which can occur when too much fertilizer is applied at once, leading to nutrient runoff and pollution.
Finally, using oats and tea as fertilizers is a cost-effective option for houseplant enthusiasts. Commercial fertilizers can be expensive, especially if you have a large plant collection (like I do!). Oats and tea, on the other hand, are affordable and widely available, making them a budget-friendly alternative to traditional fertilizers.
In conclusion, oats and tea can be a great way to provide your plants with essential nutrients and protect them from pests and diseases. Whether you choose to use oatmeal water, tea leaves, or compost tea, these natural fertilizers can help to improve soil health and promote the growth of healthy, vibrant plants. So, the next time you're looking for a safe, simple way to revitalize your houseplants, reach for a cup of tea and a handful of oats. Your plants will thank you for it!