The rusty nail houseplant hack your yellowing plant needs

Experts have shared a rusty nail houseplant hack that gives unhealthy plants some extra iron, which can help with yellowing leaves or slow growth

multiple houseplants in living space
(Image credit: Leaf Envy)

Gardening experts have shared an unusual rusty nail houseplant hack to help revive unhappy plants. According to Balcony Garden Web, the iron present in rusty old nails will do just the trick on plants with pale, yellowing leaves, and plants that are growing slowly or dropping leaves.

Beyond aesthetics, decorating our homes with the best indoor plants lifts our mood. If one of your plants isn't loving life right now, it could be that it needs an iron boost.

yellowing leaf of fiddle leaf fig

The yellowing leaf of a fiddle leaf fig, which could be due to overwatering or a lack of iron

(Image credit: Alamy)

The iron oxide in rusty nails, also known as ferric oxide, is produced when iron and oxygen react in the presence of moisture in the air. This can benefit plants lacking in iron. 

Balcony Garden Web explains that iron plays a key role in the various physiological and biochemical activity in plants. 'Supplementing the plants with the iron oxide in nails will also help in chloroplast structure and function,' the experts say.

This will make them greener, healthy, and more active. Iron is also an important part of vital enzymes like cytochrome, which helps to detoxify environmental pollutants and other xenobiotics (chemicals that are foreign to animal or plant life).

rusty nails

(Image credit: Alamy)

It also helps with chlorophyll synthesis, giving leaves their green color. So if your plant's leaves are pale or yellowing, it could be that their iron levels are low.

Rusty nail houseplant hack

Balcony Garden Web says the rusty nail houseplant hack will benefit gardenia, azalea, ixora, and any other indoor plant ideas. So, how does it work, exactly?

There are two options. First, you could create some lovely rusty nail water to pour onto the soil of your plants. For this, you'll want to submerge the nails in water for five days until it turns brown.

multiple houseplants in living space

(Image credit: Leaf Envy)

Or, you can simply push eight to ten rusty nails into the soil around your plant, and each time you water it, the rust from the nails will help. We'd expect the first method to work better for a short term boost, but both are worth trying to give your indoor garden ideas a boost.

Adding the rusty nails into the soil will also slightly increase its acidity, so if you have an acidity-loving plant like a fern, this might help. Will you be trying this hack?

Millie Hurst
Millie Hurst

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.