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Coffee Grounds for Gardening: The Complete Guide

Posted on 1/23/2023

in Sustainable Practices

A person in a blue button up shirt is standing at a wooden table with plants, coffee grounds and soil to repot plants using coffee grounds.

Coffee Grounds For Gardening

Did you know that coffee grounds are a great way to care for your garden?  That's right, those spent coffee grounds from your morning coffee have several benefits for your plants. Not only do they add nutrients to the soil, but they also help improve the soil's consistency and help hold in water.  Coffee grounds are also a natural insect repellant for many bugs and pests. In this blog, we will tell you why gardening with coffee grounds is suitable for plants, how to use them in the garden, when to use them, and which plants not to use them with.  

Are Coffee Grounds Good For Plants? 

Coffee grounds are rich in many nutrients that plants need, including nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. These nutrients are critical to plant growth.  Nitrogen is vital as it prompts the growth of green leaves, capturing the light and carbon needed for the plant to grow.  

Coffee grounds also contain a large amount of organic material, which is essential for the health of the soil.  The grounds help keep the soil porous, which helps drain and disperse water so that roots can adequately grow.  The coffee grounds also help to retain moisture in the soil, meaning less watering is needed.  This helps to reduce the amount of water and energy required to maintain your garden. 

Finally, coffee grounds help to prevent unwanted pests. The smell, color, and components of coffee repel insects such as the Asian tiger mosquito, cockroaches, and slugs, pests that can damage plants and cause diseases.  Using coffee is a natural way to avoid using harsh or toxic chemicals for pesticides. 

How to Use Coffee Grounds In A Garden

The two main ways of using coffee grounds in your garden are to add them directly to the soil or to add it to your compost pile.  Adding coffee grounds directly to the soil is a quick and easy way to add nutrients without much work.  Simply sprinkle the coffee grounds on the soil around the plants or gently mix them into the first 1-2 inches of soil.  Adding coffee grounds directly to the soil early in the season will help jump-start young plants.  

You can also add the coffee grounds to your compost pile.  Coffee grounds composting is a great way to improve the richness and quality of your compost.  Like in soils, the coffee grounds for composting will provide bulk and organic material to your compost and help retain moisture. Coffee grounds composting is also an eco-friendly option for disposing of your coffee grounds and other food scraps.  You can find out more about composting by reading our composting blog.

When to Add Coffee Grounds to Your Garden

Adding coffee grounds to your garden in the spring is a great way to give your plants the nutrients they need early in the season to grow. In addition, the soil is often denser in the spring, so mixing the coffee grounds into the garden will help loosen and bulk the soil.  Later in the season is a great time to add your compost with coffee grounds to your garden.  This will help hold moisture in the soils during warmer weather and when plants use more water.  Other times during the season are also acceptable, so don’t throw those grounds away - your plants will appreciate it.

Coffee Grounds And Indoor Plants?

Your indoor plants will also love the nutrients and moisture provided by indoor plants.  While indoor plants don’t need as much replacement soil as outdoor plants, adding coffee grounds once when you plant your indoor plants will help loosen and bulk the soil and add nutrients required to grow. 

Which Plants Don’t Tolerate Coffee Grounds?

While coffee grounds are acceptable for most plants, they add some acidity to the soils, which some plants are sensitive to.  Rhododendrons, blueberries, and azaleas are susceptible to acidity and should not be fertilized with them.  These plants like more alkaline soil and compost with egg shells are an excellent way to add the alkalinity to the soil that these plants need.  We don't recommend using coffee grounds if you have other plants sensitive to acidic soils. 

Coffee grounds for gardening are a great, zero-waste option for fertilizing your garden.  Not only do you avoid putting organic matter into the garbage, but you can add essential nutrients to the soil or compost for your garden.  For more tips on gardening with coffee grounds, contact us and let us know!


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