Did you know that tucked away in your cabinets, drawers and closets, you likely have a large list of common household items that you can use to care for your houseplants?

Those who garden indoors or outdoors have a similar mindset of tending to the Earth, and creative reuse – the act of taking something that's no longer being used and giving it a new purpose – is at the forefront of that philosophy. As 1% for the Planet members, we're always looking for ways to reduce our environmental footprint, and so the overlap between creative reuse and houseplants is very much up our alley!

Some common household items for houseplant care may be surprising and exciting to try, everything from cinnamon to bobby pins, and even old lampshades. The houseplant community is simply teaming with creativity and experimentation for growing greener thumbs.

Household Items for Your Houseplants: Pest and Fungal Control

Houseplant pests and fungal diseases are a frustrating reality for collectors, and being prepared for them is essential for successful eradication. Checking for pests regularly and catching disease and unwanted bugs early is the key. For most common houseplant pests, the treatment supplies you will need can likely be found in your cleaning supplies or in your kitchen cabinet!

  • Isopropol Alcohol: diluted with water, isopropal alcohol is a non-toxic way to treat most houseplants for pests. Always do your research for the plant that is affected and spot treat before applying the mixture to the entire plant.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: dilute hydrogen peroxide in your watering can in order to kill fungus gnats and bacterial disease found in the soil. Keep in mind, this will also kill helpful bacteria so adding plant biotics or refreshing the soil is important when using this method.
  • Castille Soap/Natural Dish Soap: These gentle soaps can be used in treatment mixtures as an emulsifier. Less is more when adding soap to pest management treatments as it will leave a residue on the leaves if there is too much. We recommend peppermint, as pests don’t like that scent.
  • Cinnamon: A light dusting of cinnamon on the top of your soil can help prevent and treat mildew that might show up and become harmful to your plant’s roots
  • Q-tips: a great tool to have for physical removal of larger pests such as mealy bugs!
  • Baby Wipes: baby wipes or alcohol wipes can be used to wipe down affected leaves. Physical removal of pests like spidermites is crucial in their treatment!

Household Items for Your Houseplants: Repotting

Repotting can be messy and tricky business, these items can make the process a little easier.

  • Dryer sheets, coffee filters, and burlap: Cut into little squares and placed over the drainage hole of your pot. These household items will prevent soil from spilling out onto your floor - a great trick for folks that like things clean!
  • Cardboard, salad tongs, and towels: Repotting a cactus? You can wrap the cactus with cardboard or a thick towel and use salad tongs and thick gloves to repot your cacti while protecting your skin from sharp spines.
  • Spoons: Large spoons can be used as little shovels or trowels when repotting or building terrariums
  • Paint brushes and old make-up brushes: great for brushing off dust and dirt that get into hard to reach spots after repotting, and for cleaning the glass on the interior of terrariums

Creative Reuse for Indoor Gardeners: Household Items for your Houseplants

Household Items for your Houseplants: Care

Repurpose and reuse these items when caring for your plant to save your wallet and reduce waste in your home.

  • Lemon juice: Diluted in water, lemon juice is a great natural way to clean and shine leaves.
  • Coffee grounds, green tea leaves, banana peels, egg shells: kitchen waste can be used as fertilizer for most plants! For example, many swear that Staghorn Ferns love a banana peel tucked behind their shield fronds. Some trickier plants like carnivores can be fertilized with fish food
  • Chop sticks, kitchen skewers: Ordered takeout recently? Save the chop sticks, as they make for excellent plant stakes for starter plants in need of some support. Kitchen skewers are also great for this.
  • Aspirin: Crushing a tablet of aspirin into a powder and adding it to the soil can actually boost your plant's immune system!

Household Items for Your Houseplants: Propagation

The cutest repurposed household items can be used for propagating your houseplants, so you can grow and share your collection.

  • Champagne glasses, spice jars, perfume bottles: these items are especially cute when used as propagation vials for stem cuttings. Something with a thinner opening is ideal as it will support your cutting but any old jar will also do the trick.
  • Bobby pins/paperclips: Bend old bobby pins or paperclips to secure vines into the base of your plant. Once they root you can trim them and remove the pins for a fuller looking trailing houseplant!
  • Takeout and fruit containers: Clear food containers with holes in the bottom like strawberry containers can act as a great rooting chamber for seeds, stem cuttings, succulents, and leaf vein propagation.

Household Items for Your Houseplants: Display

These items are a little quirky and add a unique style to displaying your plants in your home.

  • Fruit baskets: The classic fruit basket makes an excellent plant hanger – especially ones that have more than one tier.
  • Candle holder, lamp shade, tomato cage: Each of these items makes for perfect DIY Plant stands! 
  • Old candles, tins: Empty tins and burned down candles each leave behind great vessels for cachepots and air plant display.
  • Kitchen plates, pie plates, candle lids, tea saucers: Missing a saucer for your pot? These items make for a quirky substitute.
  • Wire: have some old wire hanging around? Use this as a trellis you can bend into any shape you like. Perfect for natural climbers like Hoyas and Philodendrons.

Everyone has different little tricks for creative reuse of household items in plant care. Did you know some people use milk or even mayonnaise to shine leaves with? We aren’t so sure about that trick as it may cause an odor in your home, but we admire the dedication of indoor growers!

What common items are you using for your houseplants? We would love to hear from you and grow greener alongside you.

By: Bee Oxford

October 04, 2021 — Pistils Nursery


Karen said:

I use a clothes rack to hang plant baskets from because I can’t be drilling holes in my apartment walls or ceiling.

Margery Olsen said:

Wonderful ideas. Thank you very much!

Tod H Foulk said:

This was great! As a house plant hoarder of 45 plus yrs with plants older than that, I gotta say great read!

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