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houseplants that don't like fertilizer

11 Houseplants That Don’t Need Fertilizer (With Pictures!)

You might have heard that all plants do better if you feed them, no matter the species, but that’s not necessarily true. In fact, there are houseplants that will immediately die if you try to fertilize them.

In this article, I will show you the best houseplants to grow if you never want to fertilize, as well as how to care for them.

Here are the best houseplants that you never need to fertilize:

1. Venus Flytrap (Dionaea Muscipula)

Venus Flytrap (Dionaea Muscipula) in white pot

A particularly famous plant, Venus flytraps can be tricky to care for and hate to be over-fertilized.

They evolved in marshy lands with minimal nutrients in the soil, and they prefer their at-home care to reflect this.

Having a lot of nutrients around the roots will burn them and kill them quickly.

A Venus flytrap gets the nutrients it needs from catching insects, and it is one of the few plants that is actually likely to die if you fertilize it, as it should never need additional food beyond what it catches.

Temperature: 70 – 95 degrees F (21 – 35 °C).
Water: keep the soil damp and do not use tap water.
Light: 4 hours of direct sunlight, plus indirect sun.
Soil: peat moss and perlite, or sphagnum moss.

2. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)

Another very popular houseplant, aloe veras don’t need fertilizing in order to grow healthy and strong.

If you really want to feed Aloe Vera, once or twice a year should be plenty for this plant to thrive, and this plant would rather be under-fed than over-fed.

Plant it in commercial cactus soil, which is low in nutrients, and don’t feed it too often.

Aloe veras are attractive plants and generally very easy to care for, as they need little attention.

Temperature: 55 – 80 degrees F (13 – 27 °C).
Water: when the soil is mostly dry.
Light: bright, indirect light.
Soil: well-draining soil.

3. Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata)

Jade plant

Jade plants are beautiful specimens and many people are keen to grow them in their homes – and the great news is that this is easy to do.

Like other succulents, jade plants prefer fairly low-quality soil, and will not take up a lot of nutrients at once. That means jade plants don’t require fertilizers or additional feeding to grow.

If you do want to fertilize, they will be perfectly happy with irregular fertilizing and should keep growing provided they have enough light.

It is important to know that the container will eventually run out of nutrients, so if you wish to fertilize jade plants occasionally, they will appreciate it provided you don’t over-fertilize.

You should aim to fertilize your jade plant about once every six months to keep it healthy, but it shouldn’t need more than this so avoid doing it more often.

If you are fertilizing your jade plant a couple of times a year, it should be fine, but it’s not a requirement.

Temperature: 55-75 degrees F (13 – 24 °C).
Water: frequent watering; allow the surface of the soil to just dry before watering again.
Light: full sun.
Soil: loose, well-draining, slightly acidic soil.

4. Calathea

Calathea plant in white pot on white background.

Calatheas like a little more fertilizer than some of the plants on this list, and some people can get away with fertilizing their plants as often as once per month – but the general advice is not to give this plant food too often.

Calathea plants can easily grow without ever needing fertilizer. They do not like overly-rich soil and it can be difficult to fix this issue if it occurs.

You might need to repot the plant entirely into new compost if you have over-fertilized it. Try to avoid this, or you might see the plant’s beautiful leaves turning crispy and brown at the edges.

Calatheas are very beautiful plants, so it’s important to look after them well to maintain their lovely foliage.

When in doubt about whether they need more food, opt not to give it; the plant will keep growing anyway.

Temperature: above 60 degrees F (15 °C), with a humid environment.
Water: moist, neither wet nor dry. Don’t use tap water for this plant.
Light: medium, indirect light.
Soil: mix some orchid bark, perlite, and charcoal into the potting compost.

5. Haworthia

Zebra Plant (Haworthia Fasciata) in white pot

Like many succulents, Haworthias will tolerate some nutrients in their soil, but they do not like rich soil and for that reason, they never need require fertilizing.

They are slow growers, so they don’t need a lot of food, and you can just use a diluted fertilizer during the growing season if you really want to feed it.

Don’t ever fertilize Haworthias plants in the summer, or for a year after repotting them.

Haworthias are easy to look after and rarely need time or attention. They won’t need repotting regularly or even very frequent watering, so they are the perfect plant for hands-off gardening.

Temperature: 75 – 90 degrees F (24 – 32 °C).
Water: allow the top of the soil to dry before watering.
Light: a little direct light is okay but not too much sun.
Soil: well-draining, sandy soil.

6. Chinese Money Plant (Pilea Peperomioides)

Chinese Money Plant (Pilea Peperomioides) in white pot

For a tiny plant that needs minimal to no fertilizer, you might want to choose a Chinese Money plant.

You can grow a Chinese Money plant without ever fertilizing and it will grow without any issues, providing it has bright-indirect light. It is a are very tough plant and needs minimal care to grow healthy.

If you really want to experiment with feeding it, at the very most, fertilize this plant once a month during the growing season.

Brown spots will appear on the leaves if you fertilize it too often.

Dilute the fertilizer heavily before giving it to the plant, and if you see white particles build up on the surface of the soil, make sure you flush the plant’s pot out with clean water.

Temperature: 60 – 75 degrees F (15 – 24 °C).
Water: water lightly when the soil starts to dry.
Light: bright, indirect light.
Soil: loose potting mix.

7. Yucca

yucca

Yuccas can easily grow without ever needing fertilizing. The rule of thumb is that unless you know it needs food, don’t feed it – it dislikes rich soil.

You can add diluted, slow-release fertilizer every three months or less if you think this may help the plant to grow. However, yuccas tend to thrive on neglect.

Yuccas are impressive, striking plants, and they look great in the home.

They are low maintenance and need little input from their owners.

Temperature: 65 – 95 degrees F (18 – 35 °C).
Water: when the soil is almost dry.
Light: bright, indirect light.
Soil: poor, dry, alkaline.

8. Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium Nidus)

Bird’s-Nest Fern (Asplenium Nidus)

Bird’s nest ferns don’t need fertilizers to grow healthy and are very easy to overfertilize. If you use too much, the plant’s leaves will turn brown and will start to grow in odd shapes.

Should you really want to, this plant prefers to be fertilized only two or three times a year, using diluted fertilizer.

The bird’s nest fern is otherwise forgiving, and will tolerate a variety of different environments.

You will likely find that these plants don’t need too much attention, and their crinkled, flat fronds are very attractive.

Temperature: 70 – 90 degrees F (21 – 32 °C).
Water: damp but not sodden soil.
Light: medium/low indirect light.
Soil: peat-based with some perlite mixed in.

9. Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes)

Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes) in brown pot

These unusual houseplants, like the Venus flytrap, come from very poor soils, which is why they turned to insect-eating as a means of getting nutrients.

Pitcher plants take their nutrients from eating insects and therefore, they actively dislike high nutrient soils. Their roots will start to burn if you fertilize them.

Although your pitcher plant may never need you to fertilize it, some people do heavily dilute some fertilizer and mist the plant with it.

It will get the rest of its food from insects.

Don’t be tempted to fertilize it as a replacement for insects; it will likely die. Overall, this plant needs very little in terms of nutrients.

Temperature: 65 – 85 degrees F (18 – 29 °C).
Water: moist soil, but not too wet. Avoid tap water.
Light: different kinds of pitcher plants have different requirements, but aim for medium indirect light if you aren’t sure.
Soil: a mix of perlite and sphagnum moss, or other low-nutrient soils.

10. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Domino Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum Domino) on a blue background

Peace lilies are extremely popular, and they don’t need or like being given a lot of food. Most people never fertilize their peace lilies, and the plants grow just fine. 

However, if they are not flowering and the conditions are ideal otherwise, they will flower better if they are occasionally given some food.

As a rule of thumb, fertilizing your plant when it is actively growing (at the start of spring) is a good way to encourage flowers.

You might add another feed or even two throughout the growing season, but that should be all that is needed.

Too much food will result in brown spots appearing on the peace lily’s leaves, and a green edge to the flowers, so be cautious.

Temperature: 68 – 85 degrees F (20 – 29 °C).
Water: moist, but allow to lightly dry between waterings.
Light: bright, indirect light, but will tolerate low light.
Soil: blended potting mix that drains well.

11. Flamingo Plant (Anthurium)

big Anthurium plant

Anthuriums are amazingly striking plants, with unique, highly glossy leaves. They are also low maintenance and do not usually need any fertilizer to grow strong and healthy.

If they are not flowering or not doing so well, you should aim to fertilize them with a quarter-strength fertilizer once every four months or so; this will give them all the food they need.

If you want lots of flowers from your Anthurium, make sure you choose a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus, but otherwise, these plants aren’t fussy and will cope without fertilizing.

They are simple plants to grow, in spite of their exotic appearance, so if you’re a low-maintenance-plant fan, these are an ideal option for you.

Temperature: 65-80 degrees F (18 – 27 °C).
Water: only when the top inch of the soil is dry to the touch.
Light: any level of indirect light, but lower light will result in fewer flowers.
Soil: mix perlite and orchid bark with normal potting compost in a 50/50 ratio.

Conclusion

Although most plants require a bit of feeding, the ones in this article grow just fine without ever fertilizing them.

Always check a plant’s fertilizing needs before you start giving it food.

While many plants like to be well-fed and will grow better as a result of regular fertilizing, other plants need much less food, and can be harmed by excessive nutrients.

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