How Rusty Nails Can Save Your Dying Plants

Ralph Astley is a retired gardener from Philadelphia who specializes in outdoor plants and trees. With years of hands-on experience, Ralph not only cares for a diverse range of outdoor flora but also shares his extensive knowledge through well-written articles and social media posts. A trusted authority in arboriculture, he's committed to helping the community grow healthier, more robust gardens.
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It may sound unusual that How Rusty Nails Can Save your Dying Plants, but it’s actually possible–You can revive your plants with this easy trick.

How Rusty Nails Can Save your Dying Plants

Maintaining healthy and productive plants can sometimes be quite difficult, and it is always good to learn some handy tricks–just like this one–How Rusty Nails Can Save your Dying Plants!

Check out our article on some great hacks to save Dying Plants here

What Do Rusty Nails Have?

Rusty nails contain iron oxide, a reddish brittle coating, which forms when iron and oxygen react together in the presence of moisture in the air (water). Also known as ferric oxide, the rust in nails can provide iron to plants, which is beneficial for plants.

What Does Iron Do for Plants?

Plants require iron to stay healthy, but only in small amounts. Iron deficiency in plants can cause pale yellow and weak leaves, poor or stunted growth, and stressful plants with falling leaves.

This is because this important element is involved in chlorophyll production in plants. It helps plants create energy from sunlight and is essential for forming enzymes and proteins. Not just that Iron also assists in the transportation of electrons during photosynthesis and respiration.

If the soil has too much lime or it is alkaline, it can cause iron deficiency in the plants. You can rectify it using iron fertilizer or using this clever rusty nail water trick if there are not many plants or the proportion is small.

How Rusty Nails Can Save Your Dying Plants

Because rusty nails contain iron, which is the main component of the various physiological and biochemical activities in plants, it is an essential part of vital enzymes like cytochrome and helps in chlorophyll synthesis.

Supplementing the plants with the iron oxide in nails will also help in chloroplast structure and function. As a result, it makes them greener, healthy, and more active.

Rusty Nails for Acidic Plants

Not much, but rusty nails can slightly increase the soil acidity, which helps the acidic plants. While you may not be able to get the blue color of hydrangea flowers with this hack, it definitely works for small container plants. Similarly, gardenia, azalea, ixora, and many other plants benefit from this.

Here is a list of acid-loving plants you should know about

How to Use Rusty Nails 

How Rusty Nails Can Save your Dying Plants 2

1. Try Rusty Nail Water

You can put several of your rusty nails to good use by submerging them in water for 4-5 days. Once the water turns brown with the rust, use it sprinkle on the leaves or water it the usual way.

2. Rusty Nails in the Pot

Poke 8-10 rusty nails in a pot around the plant. Every time you’re going to water, the rust from nails will help.

Note: Rusty nails will be most effective for small container plants indoors or outdoors. It may not be practical for trees and shrubs!

This underwear soil test here can predict the quality of your soil

Is Rust Good or Bad for Plants? Some Precautions

Rust is essentially iron oxide, and while it can provide iron to plants, it may also contain other elements or impurities if you don’t know the source of the nails coming from and that can be harmful. So, when you try this rusty nail trick, be aware of the points listed below:

1. Use Nails from a Known Source: If possible, use rusty nails from a source you trust, such as your own garden or a location with minimal exposure to potential contaminants.

2. Avoid Nails with Visible Paint or Coatings: Choose rusty nails that appear relatively free of paint or other coatings, as these can introduce unwanted chemicals into the soil.

3. Monitor Plant Health: Keep a close watch on the health of your plants. If you notice any signs of stress, discoloration, or unusual growth, discontinue the use of rusty nails.

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  1. Rust is iron oxide and is not soluble in water, it’s possible a very small amount may be taken up, however, far better to use sequestered iron tonic, specifically produced to dissolve in water. Also fertiliser specifically for acid loving plants and seaweed with iron.


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