If someone tells you to put striker matches in potted plants to help them grow, you might think it’s a superstition—but there’s science behind this old wives’ tale. By pushing a few match heads into the soil around potted plants, you can grow outstanding, healthy plants that thrive and produce flowers and fruit in a short time.
The Importance of Indoor Plants
Apart from their ornamental function, there are several reasons why you need indoor plants. You can start placing food crops, such as okra, pepper, chilis, tomato, eggplant, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and cabbage, in pots indoors four to six weeks before the last expected frost. This move will give your seedlings a head-start for the summer growing season, and you will be able to transplant strong seedlings outdoors and harvest your first vegetables sooner than if you waited for favorable outdoor conditions to sow seeds.
Potted herbs and even flowers such as chrysanthemum and Allium in your kitchen window will discourage flies. All green plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere, which can help to improve the air quality in your home.
Improving Your Plant Growth with Matches
Unfortunately, sometimes vegetables and other plants which grow in pots indoors don’t flourish, and it becomes a challenge to figure out why. If you water your plants regularly and provide enough light and warmth, the reason your potted plants aren’t growing might be a lack of essential minerals in the soil, or pests that are attacking your plants. Placing matches in the soil around your pot plants creates an ideal deterrent for pests, and match sticks can supplement nutrients in the soil.
Striker matches contain phosphorus sesquisulfide, potassium chlorate, and small quantities of magnesium and ferric oxide. Some types of matches also contain red phosphorus. If you worry about the use of chemical fertilizers and commercial pesticides around your home and the food you eat and prefer an organic lifestyle driven by homesteading, matches are a safe way to add nutrients to the soil of your potted plants while driving away pests.
Protection and Fertilizer
The stems, roots, and leaves of young seedlings are tender, making them vulnerable and attractive to a variety of pests. Vegetable seedlings are especially prone to attack by aphids, whitefly, cutworm, and fungus. The sulfur of a few match sticks in plant pots is a useful way to harmlessly get rid of pests without introducing chemicals which could be harmful to your family. Potassium chlorate and red phosphorus both act as a disinfectant and pesticide and are considered safe for use near food crops. In India, match sticks are mixed in with grain crops to act as an insecticide and naturally repel rodents.
It is difficult to know how much fertilizer to add to your plants–too little and they won’t flourish, too much and you could end up damaging the roots. Plants grow best with frequent small applications of fertilizer, so you must keep up a routine of adding liquid or granular fertilizer to your plants. Some plants such as okra, eggplant, and peppers rely heavily on soil nutrients, but they are also sensitive to the nutrient balance and concentration in the soil. Too much nitrogen from chemical fertilizers in the soil will result in green leaves with no buds. Nitrogen-based chemical fertilizers sometimes overstimulate green growth and leave your crops without fruit.
Using matches as fertilizer in pot plants eliminates these difficulties. When you water your potted plants regularly, the moisture in the soil will dissolve the match heads over time, gradually releasing sulfur, phosphorous, and magnesium to nourish your plants.
Surprising Household Nutrient Sources for Plants
Both the phosphorous and phosphorous sesquisulfide in match heads encourage bud development and the setting of fruit in crops. Phosphorous will also make the soil slightly acidic, which is beneficial for most food crops. Magnesium is the pivotal ingredient in plant chlorophyll, without which the plants take on a yellowish cast and the plants will grow lanky without producing fruit. Magnesium from matches in your pot plants helps to produce a healthy green color in leaf crops and the leaves of fruit plants.
If you are looking for more organic ways to feed your potted plants, there are a few surprising household resources you can add to the soil: Epsom salts are a rich source of magnesium for yellowing plants, and crushed eggshells add calcium to the soil, which improves plants’ ability to absorb water. Unsalted potato water adds starch to the soil, which is an excellent nutrient for vegetables and dried coffee grounds are a natural slow-release source of nitrogen. Small amounts of vinegar will add nutrients to the soil and, at the same time, lower the pH, which is healthy for vegetable plants.
How to Use Match Heads to Upgrade Your Plant Upkeep
There are three ways in which you can use match sticks to add nutrients and protect your pot plants from pests:
- Stick ten to twenty matches head first into the soil around each plant. Make sure that the heads are well-buried, but you don’t need to submerge the entire match stick. The best location to place the match sticks is halfway between the plant pot rim and the plant stem. Don’t bury the matches too close the stem or you might damage the roots of the plant.
- If you are using large planting containers, you can drop a few extra matches into the planting hole and bury them when you cover the seedling’s roots with soil. That way, the soluble nutrients are close to the roots where the plant needs them.
- Plunge a few matches into your watering can. The match heads will dissolve in the water and act as a liquid fertilizer for your plants.
People frequently ask whether you can reuse the matches which you place in a plant pot and whether you must use new matches. Here’s the answer to your questions:
- Can unused matches in pot plants be reused as a firelighter? Unfortunately, no. We all know that water and fire don’t mix. Once your matches become subjected to damp soil, the chemicals which help matches to light will leach out into the soil, and the matches won’t ignite anymore.
- Can you use spent matches as fertilizer? When a match is lit, chemicals such as magnesium and sulfur contained in the match head don’t disappear; they oxidize into a different form which plants can easily absorb. However, burnt matches will no longer act as a pest repellent, so if you want the dual benefit of fertilizer and pesticide, it’s best to use new matches.
Alternatives to chemical fertilizers, such as match sticks in pot plants, save the environment and produce crops that are healthier for people to eat. Whether you’re concerned about your wellbeing or just enjoy trying a different method of gardening, adding match sticks to your pot plants will produce gratifying results.
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