How to fertilise plants with period blood
Top tips for gifting your Waiwhero / Period blood back to the whenua / land with a Wā Cup*
*IMPORTANT: As with any practice that involves blood, we must be careful, and respectful of others and our environment. Because period blood is blood, menses can contain blood-borne infectious pathogens like HIV and Hepatitis B and C. If you believe your body could be carrying or is carrying any of these we recommend you have a kōrero / chat with your healthcare professional and follow their advice, before giving this a go.
Giving your period to a plant!? Sound a bit bonkers? Sounds sacred? A bit of both?
There are many reasons to try this practice - some of them include for connection with Papatūānuku / Mother Earth and linking back to practices of our tīpuna / ancestors and for others, it's simply not wasting something that is full of nutrients and could help the health of the soil, rather than end up part of the problem (eg - as waste in a 'waste' facility or septic tank). Other people who give this a go are just next level devoted plant mamas, doing their thing!
Just like the cycle plants go through, our bodies do the same each month - Blooming into fullness at ovulation, and shedding through menstruation in what can be an offering back to earth, creating fertile soil for the next cycle!
Gifting your period back to the earth can be a bit daunting at first and even feel a bit strange (especially when there are still many messages around us saying 'periods are gross/insert negative word from the patriarchy here/etc'. However, if you feel drawn to try this we encourage you to follow your curiosity and give the flow a go!
So...how to do it?
I've found it's all about getting a good system set up. Here's what I do.
You are welcome to follow it, or create your own practice.
- I keep my ceramic Wā Cup Cleaner in the bathroom cupboard. When I empty my Wā Cup, I grab my Cup Cleaner and pop my waiwhero / period into the cup cleaner, instead of pouring my period down the loo.
- As normal, I then reinsert my Wā Cup after rinsing it under cold water with the tap in the bathroom sink.
- I then fill my Cup Cleaner (now with my period in it) up to the (almost!) top with water and pop the lid on. It's important to dilute your waiwhero with water, otherwise the salts in your blood can not be so healthy for your plant of choice.
- I go outside (you could of course choose an indoor pot plant) and gift my period to a tree that feels like it wants these nutrients, then give my Cup Cleaner a rinse with soapy water, ready for the next round.
Image credit: Douglas Bagg
Period blood contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium .. three key nutrients for the growth of plants!
We've had a friend get in touch to say that their plants grew (we direct quote here!) "like little monsters!" the month after they were gifted with diluted blood! However, everyone's waiwhero is a different river, so we can't guarantee results.
What not to do:
- Don't leave your discarded period blood sitting around or stash it (bacteria could build up and, in respect to anyone else you live with, treat your period as the sacred thing it is and attend to it immediately)
- Don't period-water (did we just come up with a new term?!) houseplants that your housemates or family interact with without them knowing about it first. That's not ethical or respectful in our opinion (I also learned from experience with this one - sorry 2019 flatties!). Have a conversation, or choose a plant that you are sole kaitiaki / guardian of, or take your practice outside into your backyard
- Don't forget to water down your period quite a lot, otherwise, the salts in our blood can overwhelm the plant and it won't be so happy. What can happen too is that undiluted period blood can attract insects, which, especially for inside plants, ain't so good!
Above: Awhitia Mihaere speaks to the sacredness of wāhine, returning Ikura (period) to the whenua (land) and the mauri (life force) of rākau (plants)
Optional to dos:
- Ask the plant for permission - does the plant want to receive your offering? Sounds a bit wacky perhaps, but consent feels like it goes further than just a human to human thing. Give it a go - you may feel a softening in your body, or see a tohu / sign around you that means yes. If you feel it's a no, respect the plant and see if another one is in need.
- Consider asking an elder who you have connection with if they know of any specific practices or tikanga / custom/lore related to gifting your menstruation to the earth within your heritage
- Let us know your own tips and tricks. We'd really love to hear your experience of this - what resonates, what doesn't and what have we missed? firstname.lastname@example.org or Insta message us!
Whatever you choose to do, do what feels right for you. Find your own rhythm. It took me a while to have the courage to land here ... and in the process, I'm learning so much.
Through this small but powerful practice I feel more empowered in reclaiming the power of my own body in a mainstream society which tries to tell me to hide away and be ashamed. My period is not a 'waste product' any longer, but part of the cycle of nature, like it always was.
And, if you do give this a go and it's not for you - that's totally fine too. We commend you for following your curiosity enough to read this.
Ka rawe. You are awesome.
Olie & The Wā Crew
Murphy, M. (2014). Waiwhero: He Whakahirahiratanga o te Ira Wahine: A Celebration of Womanhood. He Puna Manawa Ltd
Unless specified: Photos by Carissa Corlett & The Wā Crew