Are Coffee Grounds Good for Plants?

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coffee grounds plants

Have you ever heard of someone using coffee grounds to help fertilize their garden? Did you ever question that person as to what their reasoning for doing so was? It turns out that coffee grounds can make a good fertilizer if you know which types of coffee grounds to use and how to use them. Fresh coffee grounds vs. used coffee grounds can provide different benefits to different types of plants, and therefore it is important to understand the difference between the two.

It's not as strange as it might sound to use coffee grounds to help grow your garden, but there are always things you should know before you start haphazardly throwing the grounds at your plants.

Fresh Coffee Grounds vs. Used Coffee Grounds

Fresh coffee grounds contain more acid than coffee grounds that have been rinsed after they were used. If you are trying to achieve a higher acidic value in your soil, you’ll want to consider using fresh coffee grounds. If you simply want to use the coffee grounds as a way to beef up your compost mixtures, use coffee grounds that have been used and rinsed clean.

Coffee grounds add organic material to the soil which allows for better water retention, aeration, and drainage, thus providing a better environment for your plants to thrive in.  If you don’t anticipate having enough coffee grounds from your normal day-to-day coffee drinking habits, you may want to strike up a conversation with a local cafe and them to save their coffee grounds for you. Shop owners might be glad to get rid of their old, used coffee grounds, you may be able to setup a regular pick-up schedule that can benefit both parties. 

Should You Use Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer

People are crazy for composting these days. It’s actually law in a great deal of the world. Waste not, want not, right? So people have been throwing coffee grounds and their filters in their compost bins for some time. But is it better to continue to use composted fertilizer or the coffee grounds straight from the pot?

Coffee is pretty potent stuff, and you’ll need to go slow when you first start adding coffee to your plants. Houseplants require different care than plants that you grow in your garden outside. If you’ve been using homemade compost on your garden outside, it’s probably fine to start incorporating your coffee grounds and filters into your compost. Most coffee filters are compostable, but check the package to be sure.

If you plan to use your coffee grounds on your houseplants, do a little research to determine which plants stand up to the acidic nature of coffee. It’s important to remember not to overload the plants (inside or outside), with too much coffee. By composting the coffee grounds first, you can temper the impact of the acidic nature of the coffee.

How to Use Coffee Grounds Properly to Fertilize Plants

Composting your coffee grounds with other compostable items from your kitchen is the best way to start. It eliminates the risk of introducing too much acidity to your plants. If you’ve ever had hydrangeas, you know that they can go from one end of the acidic spectrum to the other based on the soil composition. While coffee beans are found naturally in the world, coffee grounds have been heated and treated in a way that makes the coffee bean consumable. This can impact your plants as well.

Mixing household waste such as fruits, vegetables, egg shells, and potting soil can produce a nutrient rich potting soil you can use for your household plants, as well as your outdoor plants.

Start by scooping a handful of compost-style potting soil into your potted plants. Water your plants as you normally would, but watch out for signs of fungal infections or deterioration of the plants. If this happens, stop using the coffee grounds and go back to your regular feeding and watering routine. It might take some time to figure out the right amount of coffee grounds to use in your household plants so keep an eye on them when you first introduce the to coffee ground compost mixture.

If you have a large area of plants you wish to fertilize, you may want to limit your coffee grounds to less than 10 pounds and use an agricultural lime to cut the acidity when you start using that much coffee in your soil.

Whether you decide to use coffee grounds on your plants or not, it is always a good idea to compost any waste that comes out of your kitchen. Being able to grow your own plants with the stuff that would otherwise go in the garbage is good for all of us. Do a little research about the plants in your garden and in the pots in your home before you decide to start incorporating coffee grounds into the care and maintenance of your plants and keep an eye on them when you start pouring coffee into your plants. You’ll have healthy and happy acidic soil plants in no time!

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