Fertilizing Plants Using Bottom Watering Techniques

Feed your plants while reaping all the benefits of bottom watering with this step-by-step guide on bottom feeding plants.

Bottom Feeding Plants

Step-By-Step Guide to Bottom Feeding Plants

Here is our complete Garden Bench Top Guide for beginners to fertilize your houseplants using bottom watering.

Too lazy to read? Check out our video below:

Required Materials

  • clear plastic container (big enough to fit ALL your houseplants)
  • liquid fertilizer of your choice
  • kitchen paper towels
  • rubbing alcohol
  • water (we prefer to use distilled water)
  • measuring jug (optional)
bottom feeding materials

Preparation for Bottom Feeding

Clean your equipment with rubbing alcohol.

Okay, we know it sounds like we are nagging you. But it is for a good reason.

As a general rule, we recommend cleaning any equipment that comes into contact with multiple plants.

In the case of bottom feeding, the communal equipment is the clear plastic tub. Make sure to sterilize the tub before use.

The reason is you do not know what the tub was previously used for.

For example, it may have been used to clean up contaminated soil (such as soil that came into contact with root rot) or other nasty fungal diseases.

clean container with rubbing alcohol

Fill the Container with Water

Now it is time to get your hands wet.

Fill your container with water until it is approximately 2 inches (5 cm) deep.

It may not look like a lot of water. However, it is essential to remember the water level will rise once you place all your houseplants into the container.

fill with distilled water

Pro Tip

Measure out the volume of water you are filling your container with (or at least make a good guestimate). It will help you understand the amount of fertilizer you need in the next step.

Mix in Fertilizer

We wish we could give you a general guide for how much fertilizer to use. However, to be honest, it may lead to over or under-fertilization of your houseplants. And we don’t want that.

So the best piece of advice we can provide is to read the instructions on the fertilizer label.

The manufacturer is best placed to recommend the correct amount of fertilizer to use.

Once you have determined the right fertilizer, thoroughly mix it into the water.

Place Houseplants into Water

Gently place your plants into the water.

We recommend placing them quickly, as the dry soil will soon absorb the water. And we want the fertilizer to be evenly spread amongst all the houseplants.

place plants into water

Let The Goodness be Absorbed

Leave your plants in the water for 15-20 minutes.

If the water level drops too quickly, you can top up the water back to the original level. However, do not add more fertilizer. Too much may lead to fertilizer burn.

leave plants into water

Repeat this process until the water level stops reducing.

Remove Your Plants

Slowly lift each plant out of the water and allow any excess water to drain.

Return them to their original position in the house.

remove plants into water

CONGRATULATIONS – you have just successfully completed your first bottom feeding of plants.

Pro Tip

Don’t discard the remaining water in the container down the drain. Use it in your outdoor garden. It will likely have remnants of fertilizer that your outdoor plants would enjoy.

Benefits of Bottom Feeding Plants

Now that you know the process for bottom-feeding plants let’s turn our attention to why we encourage all of our community to give it a try.

The benefits include:

  • Ensure Full Soil Saturation – bottom feeding allows the plants to dictate how much water they need. The soil will absorb as much water as it wants. No more or no less. That means a minimal risk of water stress.
  • Robust Root System – The roots will naturally grow down by supplying water and nutrients at the bottom of the containers, creating a stronger supportive root structure. If you constantly water and feed from the top, the roots will stay at the surface, suffocating the soil beneath.

3 Tips for Successful Bottom Feeding

Here are our tips for successful bottom feeding from our experience using this technique for many years.

1. Fertilizers to Use for Bottom Feeding

For the best results, use a water-soluble fertilizer. This may be a liquid fertilizer like this one from Amazon.

We choose balanced fertilizers with even NPK (Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium) ratios. However, we recommend customizing your fertilizer ratios according to your specific plant varieties.

You can also get water-soluble fertilizer granules, such as this one, from Amazon, that comes in pre-portioned packets.

2. Best Water To Use for Bottom Feeding

When watering indoor plants, we suggest using filtered or distilled water.

Using filtered or distilled water helps to avoid introducing any unwanted chemicals that may be present in your tap water.

We understand it isn’t always financially economical to use treated water. An alternative is to collect rainwater to use on your indoor plants. After all, nothing beats a natural resource.

3. Mix It Up

This tip may sound counter-intuitive, but now and again, we recommend watering from the top down. Changing your watering method’s direction will help prevent any build-up of excess fertilizer salts and chemicals.

You essentially provide your indoor plants with a miniature flush, resetting the soil composition and keeping it on its toes.

Nothing like change to add a bit of spice to life.