Poke holes in the side of an empty milk jug and then fill it with water. The jug will make an excellent low-effort watering can. Don’t worry too much about cleaning the jug first, as the extra calcium in the milk residue will provide additional nutrients for your plants.
As gardeners, we are always looking for ways to keep our plants happy, healthy, and thriving.
We study plant guides for tips on lighting requirements, heating needs, disease prevention, bug repellants, and of course, watering needs!
Enter the spotlight: milk! Who knew that there was such a miracle liquid just sitting in our fridges!
That said, using milk to water plants is not about providing moisture. Instead, it’s about feeding them additional nutrients, repelling bugs, and promoting growth.
Using milk to fertilize our precious, hungry plants is an ancient farming technique.
Full of healthy amino acids, enzymes, sugars, and proteins, milk encourages the growth of beneficial microbes, bacteria, and fungi in our garden soil and compost heaps.
Is milk good for plants? Milk contains calcium, vitamin B, natural sugars, and beneficial proteins that encourage growth and promote health in plants. Milk can be used as a natural fertilizer and/or pesticide. Milk can help fight against leaf viruses, aphids, and fungal diseases and is a great way to clean plant leaves.
Is watering your plants with milk really a “thing”?
It may seem strange to consider watering your plants with the main ingredient used in your favorite cup of java, but weird or not, milk is very beneficial to our leafy friends.
You may be surprised to find that dousing your growing plants from time to time with a glass of milk is precisely what they need!
Read on to discover how milk can boost growth and promote health in your favorite green family member.
The first thing you need to remember when trying something new with your plants is: everything in moderation! While watering your plants with milk is beneficial, too much milk can have adverse effects.
Much like over-fertilizing, drowning your plants in milk or using any type of milk in the hopes of abundant growth can result in stunted growth, wilting, black rot, and soft rot – and none of these are pleasant afflictions for you or your plants to deal with.
If you’re keen to experiment with milk, use the below guide to using milk effectively on your plants.
The many benefits of applying milk to the plant’s foliage or directly to the soil range from providing additional nutrients for plant growth to repelling pests and fungal diseases.
To get you up to speed on what milk can actually do for your plants, check out the following benefits:
Milk is a source of calcium – Plants need calcium for healthy growth and fruit development. Calcium deficiency in plants leads to stunted growth and undeveloped fruit.
Milk is a great fertilizer – Milk is a source of vitamin B and protein, which promote plant health and improve crop yields.
Adding milk to soil prevents blossom-end rot in squash, tomatoes, and peppers.
Milk acts as a natural pesticide for aphids, spider mites, and thrips. These soft-bodied pests feed on the milk but cannot process it as they don’t have a pancreas and die.
Milk can act as an antifungal agent to prevent and combat issues such as powdery mildew. When sprayed on the foliage, the protein in the milk develops antiseptic properties when exposed to sunlight.
Milk promotes soil health – Milk encourages the development of healthy microbes, bacteria, and fungi in the soil.
Milk can prevent the growth of seasonal pathogens and deter harmful soil insects.
While there are a number of beneficial uses for milk in our gardens, there are some basic guidelines we need to follow to ensure our plants receive the best possible care.
Remember what was said about moderation? Well, it’s true!
Much like reading the label and dosage instructions on medications, we can’t simply slug a gallon of milk on our plants and expect vigorous growth.
This basic guide will clarify the type of milk to use, how to use it, how often, and the precautions you should take into consideration.
In the old days, milk was milk. It came from a cow and was enjoyed as a drink or made into butter, cheese, or cream.
As time went on, milk was pasteurized, made into ice cream, dessert treats, and milkshakes.
Nowadays, milk can come from cows, goats, sheep, camels (yes, it’s true), and even plants. And it doesn’t end there.
Milk can be skimmed, low fat, full fat, powdered, evaporated, fresh or sour. Milk selection is now a minefield, and so the question is, which milk is beneficial for plants?
You might be surprised to find that it’s not just cow’s milk that’s beneficial to your plants.
Types of milk that can be used in the garden include:
Fresh cow’s milk (2% low fat).
Now, you can’t just add milk directly to your plant’s leaves or soil. These kinds of milk should be diluted before applying them to the foliage or soil.
Use an old spray bottle and mix equal parts milk and water before spraying onto the plant foliage or applying to the ground near the plant’s roots.
On the topic of what not to use, it’s important to know that certain types of milks just aren’t suitable for your plants and garden.
Do not use:
Sweetened condensed milk.
Full fat (undiluted).
Not all milk is made equal, and therefore they are not all beneficial to plants. Some types of flavored milk and sweetened condensed milk are high in sugar and are highly processed too.
These will have little nutritious value for plants and may attract unwanted pests and problems.
While skim milk can promote the development of black rot and soft rot, the fat in full-fat undiluted milk can damage the plant’s foliage – so it’s really all about balance.
Of course, you need to start with a diluted version of milk. A diluted milk solution can be applied to the plant in two ways.
You can either pour the mixture onto the soil around the plant’s roots or spray it directly onto the foliage.
Applying the milk mixture to the leaves is called foliar feeding (this article covers foliar feeding and different foliar sprays extensively).
Check the leaves after half an hour and remove excess milk residue using a moist cloth to prevent fungal disease.