This unusual houseplant care tip involves adding oats into the soil – but does it work?

We ask gardening experts if oats will help wilting houseplants to grow

cacti and monstera plant
(Image credit: Getty / Anna Muller / EyeEm)

Keeping our best indoor plants alive is high on our list of priorities. If one of your houseplants is struggling, a couple of tablespoons of oats might just be the answer. 

In a roundup of trending gardening hacks, Tombola (opens in new tab)mentioned this unconventional houseplant care tip. So, we asked gardening experts if it really works.

houseplants and watering can

(Image credit: Getty / Ekaterina Khudyakova / EyeEm)

Sam Norris, Design Consultant at Garden Street (opens in new tab) says it is a good idea. 'Oats aren't just a healthy way for people to start the day; they're great for houseplants too,' he says. 

'This organic, nutrient-rich grain includes vitamins and essential minerals such as iron and phosphorous, which help plants thrive. Try mixing a couple of spoonfuls into the soil once a month.

'At a relatively cheap price, oats are a more cost-effective alternative to specialist plant food,' he adds. If you don't have the money to buy lots of new houseplants, our story on how to fill your home with houseplants for free will be useful.


(Image credit: Getty / Arx0nt)

If your plant is on its last legs, Sam also suggests using castor oil as a good alternative for plant food for dying plants. Simply mix a teaspoon of the oil, a teaspoon of dish soap, and one and a half cups of water. 

Add the mix to the plant pot, and water afterward for a homemade alternative plant food. 

Liam Lapping from Flowercard (opens in new tab) echoes Sam, commenting that oats also contain magnesium, copper and zinc which can contribute towards healthy plant growth.

However, James Folger, founder of The Stem (opens in new tab), warns that although oats are nutritious, they 'risk attracting pests and contaminating growing media.' He advises using a liquid plant fertilizer and keeping your oats for your breakfast.

rubber plant and floor lamp

(Image credit: Getty / Oscar Wong)

Of course, there are many reasons why your houseplant may be unhappy, such as light, humidity, and water levels not being just right. So it's worth looking into how to care for the specific species first. 

Could it simply be time for a bigger pot? If so, take a look at our guide on how to repot a plant to ensure you do it correctly.

For ways to display your plants to create impact, our indoor plant ideas piece has plenty of advice.

If your plant is wilting despite Goldilocks conditions, the oat trick is worth trying - just keep an eye out for pests.

Millie joined Gardeningetc in early 2021. She loves creating a vibrant display of containers in her small urban garden and is always picking up new plants at the local garden center. She's never without some fresh flowers at home and her favorite houseplant is her variegated pothos that's currently climbing its way over her bookshelves.