'Stop throwing them in the trash' – this common kitchen waste can be turned into DIY fertilizer for houseplants instead

This kitchen waste can provide an organic source of calcium that could be the perfect cure for your listless houseplants, say experts

indoor plants on a kitchen island
(Image credit: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)

Keeping your houseplants healthy isn't always easy, especially through the winter months. No matter where you move them or how much you water them, sometimes they just won't perk up. A fertilizer is one of the best ways to encourage growth during the colder seasons but what if we told you that instead of buying one, you could make your own from something you've probably been throwing in the bin all this time... 

Yep, you heard us. Eggshells are supposedly the wonder cure for listless houseplants in need of a little pick-me-up. Putting crushed eggshells in their soil is said to provide a boost of calcium to promote cell growth and bring new life to your plant babies. If you're in the 'houseplants for beginners' category right now, it might just be your first foray into fertilizers. 

But how does it work, and can we really rely on this fertilizer substitute? Well, we asked some plant experts exactly that, and whether we really should stop throwing eggshells in the trash. Here's what they had to say. 

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. She regularly shares simple solutions to help brighten our homes and a personal favorite of hers is houseplants. For this piece, she spoke with plant experts to learn all about the egg shell hack for healthier plants. 

Are eggshells really good for indoor plants? 

Three pots of African violent houseplants with pink petals on a coffee table with a green chair in the background

(Image credit: Alamy)

There are a million and one home remedies that claim to cure your wilting plants, from feeding your houseplants pasta water to whispering into their leaves (yes, really), but it turns out that eggshells are actually one of the best ways to fertilize your houseplants naturally. Finely crushed eggshells actually provide an organic source of nutrition for your plants, which is why they're such a good compost ingredient.  

The primary reason for this is that eggshells are rich in calcium. 'Calcium is a mineral that's crucial for plants' growth and development,' says Aaditya Bhatta, plant expert and founder of Plantscraze. 'Crushed eggshells can be used as a soil supplement to assist plants in getting the calcium they require to thrive, preventing issues like blossom-end rot and other ailments brought on by a calcium deficiency.' 

Ficus houseplant, Lowes
Editor's choice

Ficus houseplant, Lowes

The beautiful deep green foliage of the ficus plant has a red-ish tinge's especially striking thanks to its surface's shiny qualities. Its large leaves are notorious for collecting dust however, so be sure to wipe often. 

How do you use eggshells as a fertilizer?

A houseplant in a terracotta pot with a drip tray on a sun soaked window sill

(Image credit: Getty)

So, what's the best way to use eggshells to fertilize your plants? Unfortunately, it's not as easy as just throwing your cracked eggshells onto their soil as you make your pancakes, but it's certainly not rocket science either. 

'To make sure you are maximizing the bio-availability of your eggshells you are going to want to dry them out and then grind them down into an extremely fine powder,' explains Mo Bhula, plant expert at The Botanical Archive. 'Use this powder sparingly and drop a few pinches in when it comes to watering your plants to increase the calcium levels in the soil.'

Aaditya recommends starting with a modest quantity and increasing it gradually as necessary, as too much eggshell powder can cause a nutrient imbalance in the ground. 'It's also important to clean and dry the eggshells thoroughly before crushing them, as any remaining egg white or yolk can attract pests and lead to soil contamination,' she adds. 

Snake Plant, The Sill
Editor's choice

Snake Plant, The Sill

This houseplant staple, also known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue, is loved for being extremely low maintenance and for its ability to purify the air. Its upright sword-like leaves with vibrant yellow edges, often variegated, look extra beautiful when given the occasional polish.

Which plants benefit most from this hack? 


(Image credit: The Little Botanical)

Since eggshells offer a source of calcium, plants that love this nutrient will benefit best from this hack, such as roses and African violets. 'Monstera, philodendrons, and other plants in this family are also particularly calcium-loving,' Mo says. A calcium deficiency in plants typically affects newer growth where the leaves may be slightly misshapen or have small spots on their surface. 

If you're worried you might do your green-fronded friends more harm than good with this DIY plant care hack, fear not. Aaditya assures us that eggshells are safe to use on virtually any houseplant as long as they're fed gradually. 'Most houseplants can safely be treated with crushed eggshells, but it's always a good idea to learn more about the particular requirements of your plants,' she says. 'Use eggshells sparingly, and keep an eye out for any signs of nutritional imbalance in your plants, as some plants may be sensitive to high calcium levels.'

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.