A lot of people prefer succulents and cacti because they are easy to maintain. And that’s quite right. But if you want your plant to grow healthy, you must learn a thing or two about watering and fertilization techniques. Apart from the soil mix, fertilizers are a big growing medium for plants.
Eggshells are a common household item and a lot of people wonder if they make for a good fertilizer for succulents and cacti. Let’s talk about that.
Do Egg Shells Make Good Fertilizer?
Definitely. Plants need calcium for growth just as much as they need phosphorus and nitrogen. And eggshells as fertilizer are an excellent way to provide your succulents and cacti with calcium carbonate. If you have a penchant for these plants, you might want to keep those leftover eggshells instead of throwing them away into the trash can.
Just like humans need calcium to keep their muscles and bones healthy, plants also need a little calcium carbonate to keep their cell walls and membranes strong and stable.
So, when new cells are being created, calcium promotes growth. Not just that, calcium also plays an important role in promoting the growth of roots and pollen tubes.
Calcium deficiency in plants is also quite real and it can be spotted when new leaves are being formed. The tips are likely to be gelatinous and the leaves may be deformed. Calcium deficiency can also cause the roots to turn black and ultimately lead to the plant’s death.
How Do You Fertilize Plants with Eggshells?
Calcium deficiency can be avoided by making eggshell tea and feeding calcium to the succulent through the soil. Of course, you can also throw clean and dry eggshells into the compost for the same results.
Some gardeners like to crumble the eggshells and place them into the soil before even planting the seed. But that only works before the shell takes a few months to decompose. So, if your succulent is already in place, you will need to do some prep work and not just dump the leftovers. Here’s how you can do that.
Start the process by rinsing the shells well. Make sure there is no egg white or yolk sticking around. This is capable of introducing pathogens to the soil or cause bad smells and also draw pests towards it. From here, there are two ways to go about using eggshells as fertilizer whether it is for your succulent or cactus. And both are pretty easy.
Making Eggshell Tea
Now, succulents don’t need as much calcium as, say, food-giving plants. But they need the mineral nonetheless. So, it is best to make eggshell tea out of the leftover and give the plant just the right amount of the required nutrient.
If you are going to make eggshell tea, get a pot of water and boil it. The measure is 10 eggshells for a gallon of water and 20 if you want a strong brew. You can also put the shells in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for roughly 20 minutes. Add the eggshells to that water and leave them in there overnight.
In the morning, strain the eggshells and get rid of the particles if any. The water remaining in your container is called eggshell tea and must be used to water your succulent. Experts recommend doing this once a week.
Making Eggshell Powder
If you want to go the powder route, rinse the eggshells and once that is done, leave the shells to dry completely. After that, crush the eggs into a powder using a blender or a coffee grinder. Make sure the particles are as small as they possibly can be. Then mix this powder into your potting soil.
Eggshells in Plant Pots
You can also provide calcium to your plants by breaking the eggshells into slightly big-ish pieces. Place these broken pieces of eggshells at the bottom of the pot like a layer.
Make sure the drainage holes at the bottom are covered loosely. Just enough to make sure the soil doesn’t fall out. Since you are adding raw eggshells here, don’t do this more than once or twice a year.
If you are going to use a compost pit, you must break the eggshells (considered to be green matter) into crumbles before you throw them into the bin along with other fruits and vegetables.
Eggshells also have a little bit of potassium but not nitrogen which succulents need. So, you will need another fertilizer to make up for that. But if you are already using a fertilizer, be sure to check if it has calcium in it. As mentioned before, succulents and cacti don’t need that much calcium so you wouldn’t want to overdo it.
How Often Should You Do This?
Succulents and cacti are popular plants to grow because they don’t need too much feeding. Their growing seasons are summer, spring and fall. Overfeeding is a real concern with succulents and cacti.
So, for starters, fertilize them once a month during their growing season. Increase the dosage just a smidge during their peak growing season and by mid-fall, bring it back down again.
Of course, some succulents don’t grow much during the summer. If you are dealing with one of those (look it up), stop the fertilization when the plant organically stops growing. And if your succulent doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, you should do very little fertilizing otherwise they become thin and weak.
If your succulent is in a container without drainage holes, that’s also your cue to fertilize it very little since the water and nutrients can’t escape the pot.
Cacti are often considered plants that can grow in harsh climates and need a little tending to. If your cacti are outside, exposed to harsh weather, it will find a way to adapt but a little extra calcium boost will keep the plant healthy too. So, the rules of fertilization with respect to frequency are pretty much the same for both.
Eggshells as fertilizers are an excellent source of calcium even if succulents and cacti don’t need much of that. There is more than one way to use them but in all scenarios, what you must remember is to get rid of the egg white and yolk beforehand.