Using Humic Acid With Houseplants
Humic acid is starting to become the new craze for plant people. This Gardening in Canada post is going to look at whether or not humic acid is good for indoor plants. Keep in mind humic acid is a soil conditioner, not a fertilizer. This means you still need to provide fertilizer to your houseplants. However, humic acid can help in increasing the overall fertilizer utilization.
If you are looking for the short answer to whether or not using humic acid with houseplants is valuable the answer is. Yes. But let us look at why it works and how to get the best results.
If you are new to this blog my name is Ashley and I am a soil scientist. I am located in a Canadian Zone 3 and a USDA Zone 4. I write articles, make YouTube videos, Instagram posts all designed for Canadians and Cold Climate gardeners using science based methods. If you are looking for anything specific be sure to let me know in the comments down below.
What Is The Best Humic Acid To Get For Houseplants?
I will start this article out by saying humic acid can be sourced from a wide variety of sources. This means not all humic acids are ethical, nor are they created equally! The only humic acid I use is called Kaytonik. I use Kaytonik both outside and indoors. I have noticed awesome results and healthier soil. If you want to grab Kaytonic fertilizer check out this link here. Also, be sure to follow them on Instagram or Facebook.
What is Humic Acid?
Humic acid is not a fertilizer, it is a conditioner for the soil and the plant. Some refer to it as a biostimulant because it is able to aid in chemical reactions needed for nutrient uptake. Biostimulants help with increasing nutrient uptake via better nutrient utilization. This increase in utilization means the plant is better at handling stress from the weather, pests and diseases.
Humic acid is not well understood by the scientific community and is actually highly debated! Some believe it is not naturally occurring at all and others believe it exists but is impossible to extract. The commercially available forms are simply peat or coal that has been exposed to highly alkaline solution. This means the resulting compound is a group of compounds not a single acid.
Because humic acid is considered a group of compounds the consistency and effectiveness between products can vary. The compounds within the product will vary based on the source of the organic material & the alkaline mixture used. The main elements within every mixture include carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The carbon in humic acid is the key to why humic acid is so valuable to our plants.
Increased Nutrient Uptake With Humic Acid
One of the reasons why humic acid is beneficial for houseplants is because it increases nutrient uptake. This is partially true when we look at house plant potting soil. This is done by increasing the cation exchange capacity and chelation. For more on chelation and humic acid check out this article here.
The current theory is that the nutrients held by humic substances are said to be more bioavailable in the soil. An increase in bioavailability means plants can better utilize nutrients. Oftentimes, nutrients are present in the soil, but they are held in an unavailable form.
Adding humic substances (in this case Kaytonik) to your soils shifts more nutrients in the soil from unavailable to available forms. This leads to an increase in plant nutrient uptake and plant growth. This is particularly true if you use mostly organic fertilizers.
Biological Benefits With Humic Acid
I have spoken about this so many times on my Youtube channel because it is so important! Having biologically active soil for your houseplants is the key to success. A biologically active soil will prevent root rot, pests & even increase nutrient uptake.
Humic acid in particular has shown an increase in enzyme numbers and function allow plants to better perform crucial processes. Some of these processes include cell division, hormone regulation, and energy production.
This increased enzyme activity means more exudates and therefore increased levels of beneficial microbial communities. Again helping to suppress root rot and other diseases while increasing nutrient uptake.
What I have noticed since using humic acid?
Since using humic acid with my indoor plants I have noticed less root rot in my plants. I am not sure if this is due to an increase in water usage or if it’s because the bacteria within the soil are in balance. However, I suspect it may be a bit of both coming together based on a few indicators.
An increased rate of growth was most notable in my hoya collection. Most houseplant people know hoyas as slow-growing plants. In the presence of humic acid, however, the story has drastically changed. For example, I currently have runners on a wilbergrea that are well over two feet in length. This has never been seen to date with this plant.
It’s likely that the exponential growth is caused by an abundance of readily available nutrients for the plant. Once adequate lighting is supplied the uptake of these nutrients and water will be increased even further. This is why I believe my root rot has decreased so much in the presence of humic acid. Humic acids have caused a surplus of much-needed nutrients for growth and with adequate lighting, the water is fully utilized.
If you want to grab some humic acid for your houseplants check out this link here. If you want to learn more about humic acid in the garden check out this link here.