Many small home-based farmers often ask, is human hair good for plants? Yes, this may come as a surprise topic to many, but it’s exciting and worth looking at.
There has been a growing interest in finding alternative and sustainable methods for fertilizing plants in recent years. One controversial method that has gained attention is using human hair as a natural fertilizer.
Human hair is rich in nitrogen, a key nutrient for plant growth, and contains trace amounts of other essential elements such as phosphorus and potassium.
It has led to the belief that incorporating human hair into the soil can promote healthy plant growth. But does it? That’s what we’ll be talking about in length, but let’s first start by answering the question,
Is Human Hair Good For Plants?
A study conducted by Oregon State University reveals that human hair contains 51% carbon, 21% oxygen, 17% nitrogen, 6% hydrogen, and 5% sulfur.
As such, human hair can provide essential nutrients to plants, aiding their growth and development. So yes, human hair is good for plants.
More Discussion On The Composition Of Human Hair
Now that you have the answer to the question let’s look at each component of the hair in detail and how each benefits the plants.
Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plants as it assists in their growth and development. It is a critical component of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.
Proteins are essential for plant growth as they are involved in various physiological processes, such as enzyme synthesis, cell division, and photosynthesis.
Additionally, nitrogen also contributes to the green color of plants, as it is a vital component of chlorophyll, the pigment responsible for capturing sunlight and converting it into energy through photosynthesis.
Oxygen constitutes approximately 21% of its composition. In plants, oxygen is not only necessary for respiration, but it also helps in photosynthesis.
During photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen as a byproduct. This oxygen is then released into the atmosphere and becomes available for other organisms to utilize.
Sulfur makes up around 5% of human hair composition and is a component of various amino acids, such as cysteine and methionine, essential for protein synthesis.
These amino acids have a role in the structure and function of plants’ enzymes, hormones, and other vital molecules.
Additionally, sulfur is involved in forming vitamins and antioxidants that protect plants from oxidative stress caused by environmental factors.
Carbon constitutes the highest percentage (51%) of human hair composition. It serves as the backbone for organic molecules and is crucial for plant growth.
Plants use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis to produce glucose, an energy source for cellular activities.
Carbon also forms carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and other organic compounds necessary for plant development and functioning.
In plants, hydrogen is involved in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency of cells.
Hydrogen is also an essential component of water molecules, which are essential for maintaining cell turgidity, transporting nutrients and minerals throughout the plant, and facilitating various biochemical reactions.
How Human Hair Breaks Down and Releases Nutrients to Plants
Human hair gradually decomposes in the soil due to environmental factors like moisture, microbes, and temperature.
As the hair breaks down, the complex keratin structure undergoes enzymatic degradation, releasing nutrients like nitrogen, sulfur, and carbon into the soil.
This slow decomposition rate ensures a gradual and sustained nutrient release, benefiting plant growth over an extended period.
Factors such as soil conditions and microbial activity influence the decomposition process. The released nutrients become available for plant roots to absorb, improving soil fertility and plant vitality.
Potential Benefits Of Putting Human Hair On Your Garden
Using human hair in your garden might seem unconventional, but it can offer several potential benefits to healthier plants and a thriving garden ecosystem. Here are some of the benefits:
Keeps the snails away
Human hair can serve as a natural deterrent for snails and other pests. When spread around plants, the hair acts as a barrier that entangles and slows down snails, preventing them from reaching your precious crops.
This mainly protects delicate seedlings or young plants vulnerable to damage.
Loosens up the soil
Mixing human hair with soil in your garden can help loosen the soil. Hair strands create small channels within the soil, promoting better aeration and water drainage.
Proper soil aeration is important for healthy root growth and nutrient absorption, contributing to overall plant vitality.
Great plant fertilizer
Human hair is rich in nutrients like nitrogen, which is vital for plant growth. As hair decomposes, these nutrients are gradually released into the soil, acting as a slow-release fertilizer providing a steady supply of nourishment for your plants. ‘
This natural source of nutrients can supplement other fertilizers and enhance soil fertility over time.
Mulch helps prevent weeds’ growth by blocking out sunlight and preventing weed seeds from germinating.
Human hair is an effective mulch material that allows water to pass through while trapping moisture in the soil. This helps to conserve water and keep your plants hydrated, even during dry periods.
Deer are known not to like the smell of human hair. Spreading hair around and in your garden can create a natural barrier that discourages deer from coming near and causing damage to your plants.
It can be particularly beneficial if you live where deer are common and threaten your garden.
Disadvantage Of Using Human Hair As Fertilizer
Using human hair as fertilizer may seem like a sustainable and eco-friendly solution, but it does come with several disadvantages.
1. Slow decomposition
One of the main drawbacks is the slow decomposition rate of human hair. Unlike other organic materials used as fertilizers, such as compost or animal manure, human hair takes a much longer time to break down.
This means that the nutrients in the hair are not readily available to plants, leading to a slower growth rate and potentially lower crop yields.
2. Unbalanced nutrients ratio
While hair does contain nutrients like nitrogen, sulfur, and carbon, the ratios of these nutrients are not well-balanced for optimal plant growth.
For instance, hair primarily comprises keratin, a protein containing high nitrogen levels. While nitrogen is essential for plant growth, an imbalance in the nutrient ratio can have negative effects.
Excessive nitrogen can lead to increased vegetative growth at the expense of fruit or flower production.
Nutrient imbalances can lead to deficiencies or excesses of certain elements. And this can impact overall plant health and productivity.
3. Aesthetics concerns
Although hair is a natural material, its presence in soil or around plants may not be visually appealing to some people.
This is true, especially in areas where public perception of agricultural practices plays a role, such as urban or suburban settings.
Using human hair as fertilizer may not be well-received by neighbors, leading to social discomfort or conflict.
4. Affects pH
The breakdown of keratin in human hair can affect the pH levels of the soil. When broken down, keratin is a complex protein that releases hydrogen ions, decreasing soil pH.
This acidic environment may not be suitable for all plants, especially those that prefer neutral or alkaline soil.
5. Possibility of contamination
Human hair may contain residual chemicals from hair products, such as shampoos, conditioners, dyes, or styling products. These chemicals can leach into the soil and contaminate groundwater or nearby water bodies.
If you want to try out human hair and see if it works, ensure that the hair you are using is free from any chemical residues to prevent environmental contamination.
Is human hair good for plants? Yes, human hair is indeed beneficial for plants. It is rich in nitrogen, an essential nutrient for plant growth.
When added to the soil, human hair slowly decomposes and releases nitrogen, promoting healthy and vigorous plant growth.
Additionally, human hair can be a natural deterrent for pests and animals that may harm plants. The coarse texture of human hair can make it difficult for pests to navigate through the soil, thereby protecting the plants.
And therefore, incorporating human hair into gardening practices can be a sustainable and effective way to support plant growth.