Is Compost Good for Houseplants?

Hand pouring food scraps into compost pile

Compost is one of the most amazing things in existence. It’s natural, eco-friendly, sustainable, and essentially free. Compost is also amazing for your garden plants. But is compost a smart choice as a houseplant fertilizer?

Let’s learn more about compost and how it can help your houseplants.

What is Compost?

Compost is a mix of decomposing organic material, including food waste and plant waste. Mixing these ingredients with soil and sometimes even living creatures like worms creates a mixture that is full of nutrients and is a great natural fertilizer for plants.

A successful compost mix will be made up of what are commonly called “greens” and “browns.” Greens are organic materials that have high levels of nitrogen, like plant materials and food scraps. Browns are organic materials that contain high levels of carbon, like wood chips and paper materials. Having a mix of greens and browns ensures a balanced fertilizer.

Gardeners love compost because it is so nutrient dense, and is almost free to create. All you need is your food scraps and a compost pile or compost bin.

Types of Composting

Earthworms In Soil

There are three main types of composting: aerobic, anaerobic, and vermicomposting. Let’s take a look at each type of composting and its benefits:

Aerobic Composting

In aerobic composting, air is a key ingredient. In this type of composting, oxygen is allowed into the compost mixture to speed the breakdown of the organic matter. Aerobic compost needs to be mixed, or turned, every few days to keep the air flow consistent and make sure all of the materials are breaking down evenly.

For this reason, if you’re pursing aerobic composting, a compost bin that turns or rotates is a great choice.

Anaerobic Composting

Anaerobic composting is the opposite of aerobic composting. In this method, compostable materials are kept in an airtight container for a year or more.

This method is easy, because it requires little to no maintenance. However, it takes a very long time, and when you do break into your compost bin, get ready for a very ripe odor.


Vermicomposting relies on the power of earthworms to break down your organic material, along with a little help from oxygen. Because worms are doing most of the work for you, there’s no need to turn your compost. Red worms (Eisenia fetida) are a popular choice to carry out vermicomposting.

Should I Use Compost in My Houseplants?

Collection of potted plants on a tray.

Most people associate compost with outdoor gardening, but compost can also add valuable nutrition to your indoor plants as well. Here are a few of the reasons that compost is a great choice for your potted plant.

Compost is Easy

Using compost with your indoor plants is incredibly easy. As long as you’re using a quality potting mix for your plant, all you need to do is add 1/2 inch or 1 inch of compost to the top of your plant’s potting soil once every six months. There’s no need for repotting or mixing in the compost.

Compost is Affordable

One of the best things about compost is that it’s literally making treasure from your trash. You don’t have to spend money on expensive chemical fertilizer, and you can’t get a more organic fertilizer option than compost.

Compost is Environmentally Friendly

Another great thing about composting is that it is good for the environment. When you compost your food waste and paper scraps, you are repurposing those items and keeping them out of landfills. You also avoid purchasing store-bought fertilizer and the excessive packaging it can contain.

Compost Adds Moisture

A lesser know benefit of using compost as a natural houseplant fertilizer is that compost adds moisture to your plant soil. This moisture can mean that you can go longer between watering.

One note of caution: if your compost is too moist, you may experience fungus gnats or fungus growth on your houseplants. If your compost mix is heavy with moisture, let it dry out for a few days before adding to your potted plant.

What Should I Add to My Compost?

Pile of Banana Peels

As mentioned above, compost is made up of organic matter, and requires a good mix of “browns” and “greens.” In addition, plant-based food waste and compostable paper products make great additions to your houseplant compost mix. DO NOT add animal products, like meat or dairy scraps, to your compost bin.

Need some ideas of what to including in your compost? Here are some great items to start with:


If you’re starting to compost to benefit your garden plants, be sure to show some love to your houseplants and feed them some compost as well. You’ll enjoy exceptional plant growth, and all the benefits of the world’s most natural fertilizer for your houseplant soil.

Kate Inskeep

Kate Inskeep is a mom of three from Illinois who loves growing things. She fell in love with houseplants after a friend gifted her some succulents. Before long, her windowsills were full of plants, and she was hooked.

Recent Posts