Do you always kill your houseplants? The colder weather and fewer hours of sunshine during the winter can stunt the growth of your houseplants. So, while you might be making a few common houseplant maintenance mistakes, like overwatering and not buffing the leaves, you can rest easy knowing that it could be down to the time of year.
But, for those who struggle to keep their houseplants alive and thriving all year round, we spoke to Fiona Jenkins, houseplant expert at MyJobQuote.co.uk (opens in new tab) about how to look after them. T3 already has a beginners guide to growing houseplants (opens in new tab), but these 6 strange tips featuring mayonnaise, cinnamon and banana skins can be surprisingly beneficial for your houseplant collection.
1. Shine the leaves with mayonnaise
Aside from watering your plants and making sure they get enough sunlight, cleaning the leaves is also very important. If your houseplants’ leaves are looking dull and you want to restore their natural shine, Jenkins recommends using mayonnaise on them. She says to “take a piece of kitchen roll with a small amount of mayonnaise and rub this on the leaves to have them shining for weeks.”
2. Strengthen your plants with banana skin
The next tip is to strengthen your plants leaves and roots by making your own homemade fertiliser using banana skin. Jenkins says to “place the banana skin into a jar of water and leave it for 24 hours” before using this water to feed your plants. This gives your plants an extra boost of strength, thanks to the potassium, phosphorus, calcium and other nutrients in the banana skin, and it can also deter pests.
3. Feed your plants with tea
Another watering tip is to use tea water to encourage your plants to grow. This hack is best used on houseplants with acidic soil like spider or rubber plants, as some teas contain tannic acid which can be harmful for plants, like cacti. To try this trick, all you have to do is “brew a pot of tea using two tea bags and leave this overnight so it cools down.” From there, water your plants using this cold tea water for better growth during the wintertime.
4. Fix a broken stem with cinnamon
If the stems of your houseplants have broken, most people will move to throw them out but instead, you can bring them back to life using cinnamon. “Cinnamon is a natural fungicide and has both antifungal and antibacterial benefits for plants… make a clean cut on the broken stem and sprinkle cinnamon on it to stop it from becoming infected,” says Jenkins. This can help repair the break and mixing cinnamon into your houseplants’ soil can also prevent mould.
5. Boost your plants' calcium with eggshells
Calcium is an essential plant nutrient and contributes to the building of a plants’ cell walls. If your houseplant has a calcium deficiency, it will develop growth problems, so if you notice this happening to your collection, give them extra calcium with eggshells. “Simply crush the eggshells into a powder using a food processor or a pestle and mortar. Mix the eggshells into the soil for the best results,” recommends Jenkins.
6. Water your plants with potato water
Finally, if you’ve just boiled some potatoes, keep the leftover water to help your houseplants thrive. According to Jenkins, this water contains nutrients like potassium, phosphorus and magnesium which can help your plants grow. Before you try this hack, remember to leave the water to cool and avoid using it if the water has salt in it, as this can prevent the roots from absorbing water.
If you love houseplants, check out these 8 plants that help you sleep & relieve stress (opens in new tab).