9 Best Homemade Plant Fertilizers (Recipes)

A glass of liquid plant fertilizer in a cabbage garden.

Soil is the vital key to a beautiful and productive garden, and compost is one of the most efficient soil amendments most gardeners use to have a thriving garden.

However, some plants demand more nutrients so augmenting amended soil with more comprehensive techniques is helpful to meet these demands.

Natural organic homemade plant fertilizer is both simple to make, inexpensive and usually uses components commonly found around your home. They are the best alternative to adhere to the overall plant’s requirements.

Yes, making your organic plant food is fun and easy. More and more people understand that the best way to generate a productive garden is to amend the soil, and these amendments can be from your kitchen’s food scrap that is cost-free.


9 Best Homemade Liquid Food Recipes For Your Plants


Plants need several elements to grow. However, its primary requirements are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and these fundamental elements have to be in a balanced ratio.

  • Nitrogen (N) is responsible for the vegetative growth of the plant. It is a component of chlorophyll, the element that provides colors of the leaves and stalks and generates proteins in the plant.
  • Phosphorus (P) is responsible for making the plant flowers and set fruit. It helps the plant establish a healthy root, tuber formation, and maturation.
  • Potassium (K) is responsible for increasing the plant’s strength and resistance.

Having a basic understanding of fertilizer may not be the most interesting topic in gardening, but like us, plants need nourishment too.

Knowing a bit how-to utilize kitchen scraps can go a long way to help your garden flourish even on a tight budget.

Here are some of the natural liquid food recipes for your plants you can try at home.


Recipe #1 – Natural Plant Tea Fertilizer

You’ll need:

  • 5-Gallon Bucket
  • ¼  Cup Epsom Salts
  • 2 Cups Wood Ash
  • 2 Cups Urine (human’s pee)
  • Grass Clippings
  • Pruned Green Leaves/Green Weeds

Instructions:

  1. Get the 5-gallon bucket and fill with ¼ cup of Epsom salts, 2 cups of urine, and 2 cups of wood ash.
  2. Next, fill in the grass clippings, pruned green leaves, and fresh weeds about half-way through the bucket.
  3. Fill the bucket with water up to the top and let the mix steep for about three days.
  4. After three days of steeping, strain the tea into an empty milk jug or 2-liter bottles.
  5. Dilute the tea with water in equal parts and pour it into your favorite watering can.
  6. Apply the mix by pouring the diluted natural fertilizer into the soil around your plants.
  7. Using the solution before three days won’t complete the process of fermentation, which you want to avoid.
  8. Fermenting materials without completing the entire process emits a foul smell, and can change the soil pH rapidly.
  9. Sticking with the three day steeping process will make your solution a rich plant fertilizer in which you can use for about a day or two.
Note:
  • Human urine sounds disgusting. However, urine is clean if the body it came from is healthy and free of viruses and infection.
  • The human urine is high in nitrogen. Urea contains phosphorus and potassium compared to other fertilizers available at the store. If utilizing pee as plant fertilizer gives you the willies, try watering them to the compost pile.
  • Wood ash is rich in calcium, phosphorus and potash.
  • Weeds such as nettles, comfrey, yellow dock, burdock, horsetail and chickweed make excellent homemade plant fertilizer. They are high in nutrients and help provide additional heat to make the concoction brew quickly.

Recipe #2 – DIY Fish Emulsion Fertilizer

A whole fish, guts and fish waste in a large metal container.
Image by: gardenmyths.com

Fish waste, guts and some other parts with water are great natural plant food. This organic all-purpose natural fertilizer will take about a week to complete the entire process before you can use it.

Using fish as natural plant fertilizer is not a new concept.  Fish emulsion is the organic gardener’s replacement of toxic chemical fertilizers, made out of whole or parts of the fish.

It is rich in an NPK ratio of 4-1-1 and is usually applied as a foliar feed to provide a quick nitrogen boost.

Fish emulsion fertilizer is high in nitrogen but does not contain calcium or potassium. It is acidic and should be diluted with water before use to avoid burning the plants.

It treats the plants instantly once applied onto the soil, which makes it an excellent treatment for leafy vegetables suffering from nitrogen deficiency. However, make sure to use it lightly as some plants may not tolerate it very well.

You’ll need:

  • 55-Gallon Drum
  • Water
  •  Fish Waste

Instructions:

  • Begin the process by filling the 55-gallon drum about ⅓ full, with a ratio of 2 parts water and 1 part fish waste.
  • Let the mixture steep for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours of steeping, add more water until the drum is full.
  • Cover the drum loosely and the mixture to ferment for several weeks. The complete process of fermentation usually takes about three weeks.
  • Always dilute fish emulsion with water before use. The usual ratio is a tablespoon of emulsion to a gallon of water.
  • To use the solution effectively, apply the fish emulsion fertilizer into the soil around your plants. Utilize three gallons of liquid food for every 100 square feet of your garden.

Recipe #3 – The Seaweed Tea Fertilizer

Seaweeds brewed in a plastic bucket.Image by: thehorticult.com 

Seaweed is a good source of potassium, nitrogen, phosphate, and magnesium, and one of its outstanding characteristics is to help plants combat transplant shock when transferring or re-potting plants and seedlings to another pot or area. Other benefits of seaweeds are:

  • Seaweed helps boost soil structure, soil porosity and moisture retention.
  • The rich nutrients in seaweed encourage beneficial microorganisms to produce healthy plant growth.

You’ll need:

  • 5-Gallon Bucket
  • Water
  • 8 Cups of Seaweed

Instructions:

  • Rinse the seaweed thoroughly to remove excess salt.
  • Chop the seaweed and slip into the bucket.
  • Fill the bucket halfway with water (rainwater is preferred if you were able to accumulate some from your water butt).
  •  Loosely cover the bucket and allow the seaweed to steep for about three weeks.
  • After three weeks of brewing, strain the seaweed and transfer the liquid mixture to a clean container and store for another three weeks.
  • To use, dilute the seaweed solution with water and pour it into your favorite watering can. Apply into the soil around your plants.

Recipe #4 – The Quick Fix Natural Plant Fertilizer

If you can’t wait for three more days to make the natural plant tea fertilizer, you might want to try this recipe.

You’ll need:

  • 1-Gallon Milk Jug
  • 1tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1tsp. Ammonia
  • 3 tsp. Instant Iced Tea
  • 3 tsp. Blackstrap Molasses
  • 3 tbsp. 3% Hydrogen Peroxide 
  • ¼ cup Crushed Bone Scraps (any bones will do)
  • 1 Crushed Eggshell
  • ½ Dried Banana Peel
  • Rainwater (Optional)

Instructions:

  • Put all the ingredients into the bucket, and fill the jug the rest of the way with the rainwater. (If rainwater isn’t available, using tap water is also fine.)
  • Cover the jug and allow it to sit under the full sun for about 1 hour to warm.
  • Let it cool and water your plants with the solution at full strength.
Tips:
  • Ammonia is a good source of nitrogen.
  • The instant iced tea has the tannic acid that helps the plant absorb the nutrients quickly.
  • The blackstrap molasses helps feed the soil microorganisms.
  • The hydrogen peroxide is an efficient plant oxidizer. It blends in the air and water when dissolving, freeing the oxygen to supplement the plants and helps aerate the soil.
  • Crushed bone scraps add phosphorus, while fish bones provide potassium to your plants. 
  • Crushed eggshell and banana can replenish the nutrients if bones aren’t available, particularly with tomatoes, as it helps prevent blossom end rot.
  • Dried banana peels are a treat for plants, particularly roses. They’re packed with potassium, phosphorus and calcium.

Recipe #5 – Manure Tea Natural Plant Fertilizer

An infographic about the making of the natural plant food manure tea.
Image by: survivopedia.com

There are several ways to make your plant food, and some are easier to make than others. However, there’s no simpler way than utilizing manure from domestic animals. You can use animal dung as fertilizer after drying or apply it in the form of tea.

Fertilizer made out of animal manure is an excellent source of nitrogen. You can use the manure of chickens, horses, sheep, cows and others. You can get various types of manure to make this liquid plant food as long as it is well-aged.

When manure absorbs the soil, nutrients are released, amending the growing media to help the plants thrive. It is one of the most effective enrichments to condition the soil.

Not all manure is suitable to use as plant food. Waste of cats, dogs, other household pets, or any meat-eating animals is not advisable.

These manures are not fit to use as a natural fertilizer for your garden or the compost pile, as they are potential carriers of parasites.

Manure tea is a potent concoction that can burn your plants, especially young and tender seedlings if you don’t dilute with water before use.

This tea is excellent for almost all the plants in your raised beds and in-ground backyard gardens.

However, there are a few vegetables you shouldn’t use manure tea on. Root vegetables like turnips, carrots, beets, radishes, and potatoes are not a fan of this tea.

These crops prefer potassium-rich soil rather than nitrogen-rich, and feeding with manure tea will end you up with healthy top greens but undersized produce.

You’ll need:

  • A Large Bucket with Lid
  • Water
  • Animal Manure
  • Shovel
  • Burlap Bag

Instructions:

  • Shovel the manure into the burlap bag and place it into a bucket.  Use the cured manure beforehand,  since a fresh one is too strong for plants and may contain harmful bacteria.
  • Top up the bucket with water and cover with its lid. (Looks like you have a giant tea bag). Create a mixture of 5 parts water to 1 part manure.
  • Let it sit for about 2 weeks.
  • Once fully brewed, stir thoroughly to get the most out of the manure.
  • After the steeping process, remove the burlap bag and hang above the container until dripping stops completely.
  • Dilute the solution with water with equal parts before use.
  • Empty the manure filled sack in your compost bin afterwards.

Recipe #6 – Worm Tea Plant food

Pack of worms in the soil.
Image by: gardenambition.com

Worm casting is one of nature’s wonders. It is the most effective natural plant food known to humans. A tablespoon of pure worm casting solution provides sufficient nutrients to a 6-inch potted vegetable plant for about two months.

Worm tea encourages plant growth more than any natural product available in the market. Fertilizer made out of worm casting is absorbed by the plants, right after you feed them.

In addition to that, worm casting enhances your soil’s ability to retain soil moisture, and most importantly, it prevents root diseases like root rot.

You’ll need:

  • 3-Parts Filtered water (let city water sit for about 24 hours before adding into the worms.)
  • 1-Part Worm Casting
  • Bucket

Instructions:

  • Add worm castings to the bucket of water.
  • Stir thoroughly and allow the solution to brew for 24 hours. 
  • Strain and throw your castings on your compost pile.
  • To feed, apply the solution into the soil around your plants, about 1/3 of the way full. 
  • Allow the soil to absorb water for 15 minutes. 
  • To use as a foliar spray, fill a spray bottle and spray leaves, from the top of the plant spraying all leaves.
  • For seedlings, dilute the solution with filtered water to make it thinner before use.
  • As an additional growth boost, add some banana peels to provide potassium and phosphorus to the solution to promote flower and fruit growth.
  • For plants such as tomatoes and peppers, throw some powdered eggshells and Epsom salt in when you add your castings. These ingredients help provide an additional nutrient boost.
  • Make sure to remove the peels before using so it does not clog up your watering can.
  • To use, add the tea to your watering can and water the soil around your plants.

Recipe #7 – Coffee Grounds Liquid Fertilizer

Ground coffee and a bean on a table.

Coffee grounds are also rich in nitrogen, magnesium, and potassium. They are also naturally acidic, making excellent food for acid-loving plants.

You’ll need:

  • 5-Gallon Bucket
  • 6 Cups Coffee Grounds
  • Water

Instructions:

  • To make a liquid version out of coffee grounds, get 6 cups of ground coffee and steep in a 5-gallon bucket of water.
  • Let it brew for about 2-3 days.
  • Strain and saturate the soil with the coffee solution around your plants.

Recipe #8 – Epsom Salt Homemade Plant Fertilizer

Epsom salt in a glass container with a 15 ml blue measuring cup.
Image by: growveg.com

Here are some reasons why the Epsom salt solution is beneficial to your plants.

  • Epsom salt contains magnesium your plant needs to grow healthy and set fruit.
  • Increases the plant’s nutrient absorption and the ability to deter pests. 
  • Helps provide better and stronger blooms.
  • Helps the plant produce nutritious fruits and veggies.
  • Increases vegetation’s return.
  • Helps counter transplant shock and prevent root damage when transplanting the plants.
  • Helps prevent leaf curling and yellowing due to magnesium deficiency.
  • Improves the plant’s overall health.

Epsom Salt is highly recommended by expert gardeners to fertilize vegetables and garden landscapes. This component is safe and inexpensive and can significantly improve the plant’s health when added to the soil.

You’ll need:

  • Epsom Salt
  • Water
  • Water Gallon Bottle

Instructions:

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt in a gallon of water.
  • Mix with warm water to dissolve the Epsom salt quickly and thoroughly.
  • Water the plants with the solution for about every two weeks.

Note: The importance of having a soil test before adding magnesium to your soil to fix deficiency is necessary. Excessive magnesium in a plant can prevent calcium absorption, can cause colors of vegetation unhealthy, and can cause stunted growth.


Recipe #9 – Weeds Tea Natural Plant Fertilizer

A black 5-gallon bucket filled with weeds weighed down by bricks covered with water.

Weed tea is easy to make and can be used safely on both flower beds and vegetable gardens. You can apply the concoction directly on the soil at the base of the plants or by spraying it on the leaves.

It will give your garden a boost of nutrients, as well as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, boron, copper, manganese, sulfur, iron and silicon.

Most weeds are good to use as liquid fertilizer, but try to avoid using poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

Formulating liquid fertilizer from weeds is a great way of returning the nutrients they took from the soil. Isn’t this an impressive recycling idea!

You’ll need:

  • 5-Gallon Bucket
  • Water
  • Weeds

Instructions:

  • Place a bunch of weeds into the bucket.
  • Weigh down the leaves with a stone to ensure the weeds are covered with water.
  • Soak the weeds for a few days to ferment.
  • Add water to cover all the leaves.
  • Cover the bucket tightly.
  • Stir thoroughly every week.
  • It will take 3-5 weeks for the weeds to get disintegrated and slimy.
  • Strain the fermented weeds and dilute with water to a ratio of 1:10 before use.
  • Apply diluted fertilizer into the soil around your plants.
  • To use it as a foliar spray, dilute with water until the liquid color looks like a weak tea. Spray on the leaves of your plants, but do not spray on vegetables that are ready to harvest.
  • You will find the fermented weeds stinky, so it is best to prepare a bandana to cover your nose every time you approach the fermented homemade weed fertilizer.

Final Thoughts On Best Homemade Plant Fertilizers

Liquid fertilizers provide aid in the garden’s productivity, whether it is from seaweed, kitchen scraps, manure, or weeds.

Making DIY liquid fertilizer from various materials with the fundamental methods is pretty straightforward and is relatively easy.

Just take some ingredients high in nitrogen and other similar nutrients, and add some water, and let it sit to brew. Usually, the brewing period ranges from overnight to several weeks.

Turning ingredients into powder, such as eggshells, is also an excellent technique to help quicken the brewing. And if you have a kitchen, a bucket and water, you can make liquid fertilizer at home whenever you like.

Aside from saving you an ample amount of time, making your own natural plant fertilizer at home is environmentally-friendly, and a smart way to turn trash into something valuable.

You’ll be giving new meaning to the waste materials, thus decreasing the volume of scraps you generate from your kitchen.

Most of all, you are also promoting to minimize damage to the environment in which manufacturing chemical fertilizer entails.

The recipes above are all proven effective, but feel free to experiment if you have available ingredients you think would make an excellent natural plant fertilizer.

Have you tried brewing liquid fertilizer at home? Please share your experience in the comment section below.

 

About Benita Abucejo

Hi there! My name is Benita Abucejo. What can I say? I truly love spending my days in the outdoors, specifically in the garden. Gardening has always been a strong passion of mine since I was a little girl. It has brought me so much joy and happiness that it is definitely safe to say that I will be a gardener for life. For a period of time, I was able to work with people who are into home gardening and I found it to be quite beneficial to my physical health, as well as my mental well-being. Here at Seasonal Preferences, I am going to share with you my experience and ideas so that you can fulfill yourself with the same satisfaction and happiness. Of course, if you have ideas, I would love to hear those as well! Being creative in the garden can really be quite fascinating so let's share our experiences and be the best gardeners we can be. With that being said, thank you for dropping by and please leave me a comment on one of my posts if you would like to get in touch!

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