Six foods to keep houseplants ‘healthy’ to prevent stunted growth

Houseplants: RHS advises on watering techniques

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The colder weather and fewer daylight hours can “stunt” the growth of your houseplants, with many struggling to thrive in these conditions. Many indoor plants lie dormant during the winter months, which means they need slightly different care than they did in the summer months. Some may not need feeding, while others may still need some food, while some won’t need any water at all.

Fiona Jenkins, houseplant expert at, said: “Many houseplants can become dormant in winter due to the less than favourable growing conditions. 

“This means they do not need as much watering as they do in spring and summer.

“If you continue to water your plants in winter as often as you would in warmer months, this can do them more harm than good. 

“Instead, there are other hacks you can try to help keep them healthy and strong in the winter months such as using mayonnaise to shine the leaves.”

1. Mayonnaise

If the leaves on your houseplant are looking dull and you want to restore their natural shine, try using mayonnaise on them.

Fiona explained: “Take a piece of kitchen roll with a small amount of mayonnaise on it and rub this on the leaves, this should have them shining for weeks. 

“However, it’s important not to use too much mayonnaise otherwise it could leave a residue that could clog the leaf pores.”

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a natural fungicide, according to the expert, which has antifungal and antibacterial benefits for plants, great at repairing broken stems.

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The houseplant expert noted: “Make a clean cut on the broken stem and sprinkle cinnamon powder on it, this will stop it from becoming infected. 

“Mixing cinnamon powder into the soil of your houseplant will also help to prevent mould and fungus.”

3. Eggshells

Putting crushed eggshells into the soil of your houseplants is a quick and easy way to provide them with an extra boost of calcium.

To do so, simply crush eggshells in a food processor or by hand until they turn into a powder. If you’re planning to repot your plant, mix the shells into the soil to get the best results.

If you’re not planning on repotting, simply spread the eggshells onto the soil around the plant.

4. Banana skin

The expert continued: “If you want to give your houseplants an extra boost when watering them try making a homemade fertiliser using banana skin. 

“Once you’ve eaten a banana, simply place the skin into a jar of water and leave it for 24 hours. 

“Then use this water to feed your plants, this will give your plants nutrients including potassium, phosphorus and calcium which will make them stronger as well as deter pests.”

5. Potato water

The water which is left after boiling potatoes contains lots of potassium, according to Fiona, as well as phosphorus and magnesium which can all help houseplants thrive.

Fiona added: “Simply let the water cool before using it to water your plants. Just be careful not to use potato water that has salt in it as this can harm your plants and prevent the roots from absorbing water.”

6. Pot of tea

Tea leaves are enriched with nitrogen, which can help plants to thrive and grow. Due to tea containing tannic acid, using tea on houseplants should only be used on the ones with acidic soil, such as spider plants and rubber plants.

Fiona recommended brewing a pot of tea using two tea bags, leaving this overnight so it cools down before watering the plants with it.

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