Tea Time for Plants

Updated: May 26, 2020

Have you ever brewed a beneficial tea for your plants? Well it is super easy and generally inexpensive, so you should try it! Many house plants and garden plants will benefit from a tea!

Beneficial teas can:

condition the soil to be healthier and have better texture

help your plants uptake nutrients

help your plants resist disease, infections, & insect infestation

help your plants handle drought

Why does it help? Because beneficial teas, when brewed properly, have fungus and bacteria in them that work together with your plant!

Fungus & what you need to know about it:

Many plants form relationships with a fungus that grows on their root system, and that relationship is called mycorrhiza. The plant and the fungus trade nutrients and live together in harmony, making them stronger together than they are apart. A plants roots can only reach so far into the soil, and the fungus is like a major extension to the root system. Imagine the roots as the highways and main roads, and the fungus as all of the side roads, driveways, sidewalks, and trails. The fungus also gets to smaller and more distant spaces than roots can where it can uptake more nutrients and improve the soil structure. Fungus likes a lower pH in the soil and soil that doesn't dry out all the way between waterings.

Bacteria & what you need to know about it:

Plants lure in certain types of bacteria depending on the nutrients they need at the time. Those bacteria help release the nutrients from the soil and make them available to the plants. Nitrogen and phosphorus are made available in the soil by certain types of bacteria. Bacteria also protect the plant from diseases and viruses. They live on the foliage as well as the roots. They feed off of sugars and like a more wet environment, as well as a higher pH.

What you need to brew a tea with beneficial fungus and bacteria in it:

  • 5 or 3.5 gallon gallon bucket

  • bucket lid with a hole that fits 1/4 inch tubing through it

  • air pump, 4 outlets ideally. Don't buy it at the supermarket, make sure to go to a hydroponics store or website to get one powerful enough.

  • 2'' air stone - cylinder type are the ones I prefer.

  • Distilled water, well water, or reverse osmosis water (or city water that has been left out for a few hours until the chlorine evaporates. It should be 75 degrees F

  • a pre-mixed soluble tea OR a recipe to brew your own tea from different ingredients

  • if you brew your own tea, you will need a pantyhose or some sort of compost tea bag to put your ingredients in

  • My favorite store bought tea products: Terp Tea Grow, Terp Tea Bloom, Bio-Live from Down To Earth, Stump Tea, & Photosynthesis Plus.

A simple homemade tea recipe

Ingredients: For a 5 gallon bucket brew

  • 1 cup worm castings

  • 1 cup lobster compost (because it has a lot of calcium)

  • 5 tablespoons of a Fish & Kelp liquid

  • I don't typically use molasses because it can actually cause a die off of bacteria. They overfeed and overpopulate due to all the sugar, then a lot of them starve afterwards. If I do use it I use very little, only 1 teaspoon in 5 gallons, and I only use unsulfured. Molasses is more of a fertilizer than a good food for your microbes


  1. Fill half of your bucket with water.

  2. Add in your liquid fish & kelp.

  3. Plug in the air stones to the air pump, making sure to feed the tubing through the bucket lid so you can close it later. Drop the air stones into the bottom of the 5 gallon bucket and turn the air pump on.

  4. Open your tea bag or pantyhose and put the rest of the ingredients in the bag. If using a store bought tea you can normally throw the ingredients right in the water, the rate is usually on the packaging.

  5. Submerge the bag gently in the water and fill it the rest of the way up with water. Tie it to the handle so it doesn't sink to the bottom.

  6. Set the lid on loosely and let the tea brew for 12-48 hours. 24 hours is enough for most teas.

  7. After the tea has brewed, water into the plants. Use as much tea as you would normally use water when watering.

  8. Make sure to clean your equipment in the next day and leave it fresh for the next tea brew. In the middle of gardening season you can brew a tea every week for your plants.

If you're looking for a phosphorus boost add in super phos bat guano to your tea. Sometimes I use Ancient Forest Humus instead of lobster compost for a different microbe profile. Both of those teas should be brewed for 72 hours instead of 24 so that the microbial life can come alive in the tea and break down the nutrients.

I hope you go and make tea for your plants now! They will appreciate it, and so will you when you start to see the plants come alive as the soil does. Follow me on @livingsoilunivers on Instagram to see more like this!

Happy Tea Brewing,

Gabby Waterman

A nice foam on a freshly brewed batch of tea

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