If someone tells you to put striker matches in potted plants to help them grow, you might think it’s a superstition—but there’s science behind this old wives’ tale. By pushing a few match heads into the soil around potted plants, you can grow outstanding, healthy plants that thrive and produce flowers and fruit in a short time.
The Importance of Indoor Plants
If someone tells you to put striker matches into potted plants to help them flourish, you may think it’s a superstition — but behind this old woman’s tale is science. You can grow outstanding, healthy plants which thrive and produce flowers and fruit in a short time by pushing a few match heads into the soil around potted plants.
Besides their ornamental purpose there are several reasons why indoor plants are needed. You may start putting food crops, such as okra, pepper, chilis, tomato, eggplant, lettuce, cucumbers, onions and cabbage, in indoor pots four to six weeks before the last frost you expect. This move will give your seedlings a head start for the summer growing season, and you’ll be able to transplant strong outdoor seedlings and harvest your first vegetables earlier than if you’ve been waiting for ideal outdoor conditions to seed.
Potted herbs and even flowers like chrysanthemum and allium can prevent flies in your kitchen room. All green plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere which can help improve your home’s air quality.
Improving Your Plant Growth with Matches
Unfortunately, vegetables and other plants that grow in indoor pots often don’t flourish, and finding out why becomes a challenge. If you water your plants regularly and provide ample light and energy, the reason why your potted plants do not grow might be a scarcity of essential minerals in the soil or pests that threaten your plants. Placing matches around your pot plants in the soil provides a perfect deterrent for rodents, and matching sticks will improve soil nutrients.
Striker matches include phosphorus sesquisulfide, potassium chlorate, and small amounts of ferric oxide and magnesium. Some forms of matches have red phosphorus, too. If you are concerned about the use of chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides in your home and the food you consume, and prefer a home-grown organic lifestyle, matches are a healthy way to add nutrients to your potted plants’ soil while driving away pests.
Related: How I Grow My Herbs Indoors
Protection and Fertilizer
The stems, roots and leaves of young seedlings are tender, making them resistant to a number of pests and attractive to them. In particular, vegetable seedlings are vulnerable to attack by aphids, whitefly, cutworm and fungus. The sulfur of a few match sticks in plant pots is a good way to get rid of pests harmlessly without bringing in chemicals that may be harmful to your health. Potassium chlorate and red phosphorus act as both a disinfectant and a pesticide and are considered safe for near-food cultivation. Match sticks are mixed in with grain crops in India to serve as an insecticide and repel rodents of course.
It’s hard to know how much fertilizer to apply to your plants – too little and they’re not going to flourish, too much and you might end up damaging the roots. Plants grow better with regular small fertilizer applications, so you need to maintain a routine of applying liquid or granular fertilizer to your plants. Some plants such as okra, eggplant, and peppers depend heavily on soil nutrients but are also sensitive to the balance and concentration of nutrients in the soil. Too much nitrogen produced in the soil from chemical fertilizers will result in green leaves without buds. Chemical fertilizers dependent on nitrogen rarely over-stimulate green growth and leave your crops without fruit.
These difficulties prevent the use of matches as fertilizer in pot plants. When you frequently water your potted plants, the soil’s moisture will dissolve the match heads over time, eventually releasing sulfur, phosphorous, and magnesium to feed your plants.
Surprising Household Nutrient Sources for Plants
Both phosphorous and phosphorous sesquisulfide in match heads promote bud growth and fruit setting in crops. Phosphorus also makes the soil somewhat acidic, which affects most food crops. Magnesium is the key element in plant chlorophyll, without which the plants take on a yellowish look and without growing fruit the plants grow lanky. Magnesium from matches in your pot plants helps create a good green color in the leaf crops and fruit plant leaves.
If you are searching for more organic ways to feed your potted plants, there are a few interesting household tools that you can add to the soil: Epsom salts are a rich source of magnesium for yellowing plants, and broken eggshells add calcium to the soil, enhancing the ability of the plants to absorb water. Unsalted potato water adds starch to the soil which is an excellent crop nutrient, and dried coffee grounds are a natural source of nitrogen slow-release. Small quantities of vinegar can add nutrients to the soil and, at the same time, lower the pH for vegetable plants which is safe.
How to Use Match Heads to Upgrade Your Plant Upkeep
There are three ways in which you can use match sticks to add nutrients and protect your pot plants from pests:
- Stick ten to twenty matches head first into the soil around each plant. Make sure that the heads are well-buried, but you don’t need to submerge the entire match stick. The best location to place the match sticks is halfway between the plant pot rim and the plant stem. Don’t bury the matches too close the stem or you might damage the roots of the plant.
- If you are using large planting containers, you can drop a few extra matches into the planting hole and bury them when you cover the seedling’s roots with soil. That way, the soluble nutrients are close to the roots where the plant needs them.
- Plunge a few matches into your watering can. The match heads will dissolve in the water and act as a liquid fertilizer for your plants.
People frequently ask whether you can reuse the matches which you place in a plant pot and whether you must use new matches. Here’s the answer to your questions:
- Can unused matches in pot plants be reused as a firelighter? Unfortunately, no. We all know that water and fire don’t mix. Once your matches become subjected to damp soil, the chemicals which help matches to light will leach out into the soil, and the matches won’t ignite anymore.
- Can you use spent matches as fertilizer? When a match is lit, chemicals such as magnesium and sulfur contained in the match head don’t disappear; they oxidize into a different form which plants can easily absorb. However, burnt matches will no longer act as a pest repellent, so if you want the dual benefit of fertilizer and pesticide, it’s best to use new matches.
Alternatives to chemical fertilizers, such as matching sticks in pot plants, safeguard the atmosphere and grow healthy crops for people to consume. If you’re worried about your health or just enjoy trying another gardening form, adding match sticks to your pot plants will yield gratifying results.