Using Coffee Grounds for Plants: What Benefits Does it Have?

Using Coffee Grounds for Plants: What Benefits Does it Have?

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Gardeners and gardening enthusiasts worldwide have always been keen on developing new methods to improve gardening as a whole. Planting seeds and bulbs, fertilizing plants, and growing crops - these happen to be some of those processes that just keep evolving and getting newer additions with passing time. However, one thing of course remains constant - the need to give the best to our plant babies. 

So, when it comes to giving them the best, are you open to experimentation or do you play it safe? There are some things that you never really know till you do and using coffee grounds as fertilizer is one of those things. 

To make your gardening experience smoother and give you the information you need, here is everything you need to know about coffee grounds and plants!


• The History of Used Coffee Grounds for Plants

Coffee grounds as fertilizer

As relatively new-age gardeners, we may believe that the concept of using coffee grounds for plants in new, too. However, myth busting is our forte and we're here to tell you that the concept of coffee compost has long existed in the gardening world. We're only rediscovering it now and trying to put out a feeler to understand if this works for our plants!

Historically, there are many claims of coffee grounds working as borer, slug, and snail repellents. Although there are no solid evidences for whether or not this stands true, there are still many who agree and back this claim up with their own experiences. 

The Western Horticulture society mentions that a few of their people have used the method of replacing a layer of the top soil with used coffee grounds and in doing so, they have been able to control the growth and infestation of borers, snails, and slugs.

In parts of Italy, coffee grounds as fertilizers are also common as coffee compost is used to grow a very particular type of mushrooms that are very popular in the country. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? 


• Some Other Uses of Coffee as Fertilizer for Plants  

Composting with Coffee Grounds


1. Coffee Compost Is A No-go For Cats

Not only is coffee said to get rid of and deter snails and slugs but also it is said to be an effective cat repellent. The smell of coffee is much stronger than they prefer and than what they're regularly used to.

So, the strong scent of coffee grounds in gardens will become off-putting for your feline companions which means that if you want to protect certain plants you may be growing, coffee compost might just be a great idea.  


2. Unlike Cats, Used Coffee Grounds are Much Appreciated by Worms

Earthworms may not really be your favorite things if seeing wriggling, crawling, tapering animals give you the creeps. But if you really do love your plants, you definitely might want to do what works best for them - even if that means dealing with worms. 

Why? Because earthworms have the capacity to provide increased nutrients, better drainage, and better soil structure. For these worms, coffee grounds as fertilizers work well as they seem to provide some kind of homely comfort for them, thus fostering an environment where they can exist and potentially thrive. 


3. Acid-Loving Plants Love Coffee Beans in Compost

Coffee Beans in Compost

Acid-loving plants such as Hydrangeas and Blueberries love coffee compost. Why? Because coffee happens to be somewhat acidic which leads to it releasing acid into the soil where it is used. Other nutrient-hungry plants such as Rose also tend to be pretty fond of it. 


4. Coffee Grounds Can Potentially Suppress Weeds

While used coffee grounds do not necessarily work alone to suppress weeds, they can still be used for the same because of their potential benefits. The presence of coffee grounds can physically stop the growth of certain types of weeds. Coffee grounds also tend to have have very high nitrogen quantities that then throw off the balance for some particular weed species.


• But Do Coffee Grounds for Plants Really Work?

Well, long story short, yes! Fresh and used coffee grounds tend to have their own benefits that have proven to be quite useful for plants over the years. So, while there may not be concrete scientific back-up for these claims, there still is immense experience-based evidence to go on.

Simply tilling the used coffee grounds into your soil can help bring in more nutrients, improve drainage, and help with better water retention. The increase in nitrogen helps plants absorb more nutrients and fosters a healthier environment for their growth, allowing them to thrive. 


• What To Remember When Using Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer

Overhead View of Coffee Composting

Many things are good for us and for our plants, but everything has its limits. All of it is good in moderation and when done in the right ways. So, remember to use coffee compost in moderation and don't overdo it, as excess of anything has the potential to be harmful to your plant babies.


1. Remember not to use fresh coffee grounds

Post-brewing, the acidity of the coffee grounds get neutralized which makes them more usable and safer for plants that don't prefer too much acidity. Ironically, in this case, you need to play it safe with experimentation. 


2. Mix it in

If you simply add a layer of used coffee grounds instead of the topsoil, this can do more harm than good. How? The layer of coffee can prevent the required water from seeping into the soil and to the roots. This could potentially cause a lack of adequate water for your plants and we all know what underwatering leads to! 

So, instead, mix your coffee grounds in with soil or other compost matter.  


• Which Plants Like and Dislike Coffee Compost?

Coffee Residue for Flowering Plants

Another thing to remember is that too much love can be suffocating. What we mean is that we know you want the best for your plants but if you don't first gauge their individual needs and then act, it could do them more harm than good. 

For instance, when using coffee grounds as fertilizer, you need to keep in mind that coffee is an acidic substance. This means that plants that thrive in neutral or alkaline soil won't fare very well in acidic soil. 

So, here are a few plants that will like if you supply them with coffee beans in compost:

a. Roses 

b. Hydrangeas 

c. Blueberries 

d. Camellias

e. Rhododendrons 

f. Cranberries 

g. Wild Strawberries 

h. Cabbage 

i. Pepper Plants


On the other end of the spectrum are plants that will act up (badly) if you supply them with coffee compost. Here is a list of those:

a. Lavender 

b. Rosemary 

c. Pothos or Devil's Ivy

d. Yucca 

e. Tomatoes 

Seedlings and seeds also usually do not prefer to grow with coffee grounds as soil fertilizers. 


Now that you've got all the information you need about composting with coffee grounds, have you decided whether you're going to be the risk-taking experimenter or are you going to play it safe? Whichever way you choose to go, it's important to have all facts laid out before you prior to proceeding.

Coffee or no coffee, take your fertilizer pick and get going... happy gardening!


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