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Home Products as Fertlizers, your insights please.

This is a discussion on Home Products as Fertlizers, your insights please. within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; ...

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  1. #1
    empiref's Avatar
    empiref is offline Senior Member
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    Default Home Products as Fertlizers, your insights please.

    I live somewhere where I can't find Orchid specific fertilizers and I'm afraid to use agricultural grade fertilizers on my two phals. I did some search and I found the following info pertaining to fertilizing your orchids using product found at home.

    Has anyone tried these and had any success with these products, I have been watering my orchids only with RO water and was looking into aiding my plants.

    Eggshells are viable sources of calcium and potassium and can be used as fertilizer. Don’t throw away eggshells, wash and collect them until you get 20 – 25 eggshells. Crush it with a mortar and let it boil in a gallon of water. Let it soak for about 8 hours. Filter out the eggshells and keep the water in a container. You can use it to water your orchids on a weekly basis.

    Dried and crushed chicken bones are other good kitchen stuff useful as calcium and potassium source. Again, do not throw away chicken bones, but wash them and spread them out in the sun to dry or dry them in an oven. Crush the dried bones thoroughly and keep it in a jar. Sprinkle the dusty bones onto the potting medium on a monthly basis.

    Rice water is a good source of vitamin, vitamin B in particular. What I mean by rice water is the water that is used to wash the rice prior to cooking as well as the water in which the rice is cooked. You can directly use it to water your orchid. But make sure that you cool down the cooked water first.

    Tea contains non-toxic organic materials and is rich in nitrogen which is good for your orchids. Hence you can make use of teabags. Just open the teabag and pour the tea onto the potting media once a month.

    Milk can be the source of protein, thus provide high content of nitrogen. You can make use of a milk bottle or carton which has just been emptied. Fill it with water and shake it well so that the milk residue will be diluted in the water. Use this to water your orchid.

    Fallen oak leaves are naturally a good source for fertilizer. And since they are completely natural, there is no need to worry about the negative effects of chemical fertilizers. Collect dry leaves and put it in a 5 gallon container. Fill it with about 2 gallons of water. The portion should be 1/3 water and 2/3 of the leaves. Get it exposed to sunshine for about a week or until the water shows an ice-tea color. If you couldn’t get the ice-tea color after a week, pour it with warm water and let it cool down. You can then use it to water your orchid on a 2-week basis.

    Potatoes are another practical source of calcium and potassium. Cut an unpeeled potato into small dices and let it boil for a few minutes. To provide more potassium, you can add fresh banana cuts into the boiling potato mixture and stir it well. Let it cool down and keep the mixture in jar. Add this mixture to the potting media on a 2-week basis.

    Last but not least a kitchen stuff to be considered as fertilizer is molasses as a source of potassium. Just take a teaspoon of molasses to be diluted in the water you are going to use for watering your orchid. Epsom salt is a good source of magnesium.

    Mix 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar with a gallon of water. Use the mixture every time you water to quickly revitalize a slow-growing plant.


    If your orchid has water-spotted or dirty leaves, you can use lemon juice to clean the leaves. The white, crusty water spots are usually caused by hard water or excessive fertilizer.

    To clean your plants leaves, get a real lemon (some people will use the bottled lemon juice with the same success, although I think fresh lemon juice works better), cut it in half and get a clean new paper towel. You do not have to dilute the lemon juice, full strength is fine!

    Squeeze some lemon juice (it's okay if there are seeds) onto a clean paper towel and use the paper towel to gently wipe/scrub the tops of the leaves. Try it! It really works!

    DO NOT CLEAN THE UNDERSIDE OF THE LEAVES - ONLY THE TOPS! The undersides are where the plant breathes and you don't want to accidentally rub anything into these breathing holes (called stomata).

    Use a new paper towel for each orchid. The lemon juice will help dissolve thos calcium hard water spots, will clean the leaves and leave them bright and shiny! The lemon juice will not harm the orchid.

    As an alternative, some people use Mayonaise, Milk (esp buttermilk) and other natural substances such as Neem Oil or horticultural oil to clean/polish the leaves of their orchid.

    Note that some orchids will "shine up" better than others - usually Phalaenopsis or Moth orchids shine up well, while Cattleyas may not as much.


    Orchids that are experiencing crown root rot (most common on phalaenopsis or moth orhcids where the upper leaves turn yellow or brown and fall off - or when more than one leaf turns yellow or multiple leaves fall off the plant - this is a result of overwatering, dead roots or allowing water to sit in the crown of the plant) can usually be stopped in its tracks with Cinnamon.

    Yes, cinnamon - the spice you put in your cinnamon rolls that you'll find a handy bottle of in almost every kitchen.

    Cinnamon comes from several types of trees and it often has anti-microbial (anti-biotic anti bacterial and anit-fungal properties).

    To stop rot, simply spring cinnamon into the top crown of the plant and all around. You can also use it to treat leaf edges that you cut away dead material and on common black and brown spots on the leaves (either bacterial or fungal infections or sunburn).

    If you are repotting and there are lots of dead roots, you may also wish to sprinkle some cinnamon on the roots before repotting (you may also want to use hydrogen peroxide... see below).

    The cinnamon will help dry up the infections!
    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    rich63's Avatar
    rich63 is offline Senior Member
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    Johnny, I would say that Cinnamon, Hydrogen Peroxide and Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol are products that I have used. I have included a link to other home remedies that maybe helpful. Take Care,Rich

    First Rays' Home Remedies

  3. #3
    PaphMadMan is offline Senior Member
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    There is no harm in using the products and materials you have listed, in moderation, but you haven't listed anything that gives you a full range of plant nutrients in consistent quantity. If you can't find any kind of fertilizer intended for use on potted plants there is no reason not to use agricultural fertilizers with caution, 10-10-10 (or any other proportions) means exactly the same thing no mater what kind of fertilizer it is. Just make sure it is not blended with any kind of herbicide or pesticide.

    You can use vitamin/mineral suppliments intended for human use as a source of micronutrients.

    Another alternative is to make compost, you can easily find instructions with an internet search. Use this as part of your potting media and as an occassional top-dressing. This is very much like the natural fertility wild orchids get.

  4. #4
    davaoguy is offline Junior Member
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    rice washings and fish washings ok but maybe smelly if indoor. best outside.

  5. #5
    Halloamey's Avatar
    Halloamey is offline Senior Member
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    Johnny all the things you mentioned in your post can potentially be used to fertilize orchids, but I am afraid none of them can be used in your set up. The semi hydro set up that you use can only be fertilized with inorganic water soluble fertilizers. All the sources you have mentioned are organic complex substances. they need to be broken down by bacteria into inorganic substances for the plants to be able to absorb them. In your Sh set up this will cause fouling of the water and eventually rotting of the roots and ultimately the death of your plant. I would rather use the agricultural fertilizers. Just make sure that they are water soluble better if meant for foliar applications and that the Nitrogen is in the form of Nitrate (NO3-) pr Ammoniacal (NH4+) and not completely Urea. Most fertilizers will have a blend of all three. And if that is also not possible. the easiest house hold available material that you could use is urine. It sounds crazy and disgusting for us but for plants it is simply a great source of nitrogen, vitamins and potassium. It is a bit low on phosphorus though. Just dilute the urine 1:15 with water and that should work well as a fertilizer solution.

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