Are coffee grounds good for plants? Let’s discover some gardening uses for the grounds all coffee lovers leave behind when finished.
What we will cover in this article:
- Gardening uses for coffee grounds
- Coffee Grounds In The Vegetable Garden
- What Plants Do Well With Coffee Grounds?
- Using Coffee Grounds For Indoor Plants
- Gardening Tips For Using Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are very often viewed as a useful ingredient for gardening purposes, including a component for fertilizers, composts, mulches, and animal deterrents. But are coffee grounds good for plants? What are the real gardening applications for coffee grounds? This article will explore the best gardening uses for coffee grounds and how they affect different plants and animals in indoor and outdoor environments.
Gardening Uses For Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds could potentially be used for several gardening purposes, including the following:
• Mulch – The material you put on top of your garden soil to prevent weed growth and keep moisture in the soil,
• Compost – The collection of decayed organic materials used to feed microbes and aerating creatures (worms) in the soil,
• Fertilizer – The mixture that adds nutrients to (or “feeds”) a particular plant and promotes plant growth,
• Pesticide – That which kills animals from tiny microbes to small insects, those that may be harmful to your garden, and
• Herbicide – That which kills or keeps unwanted plants (weeds) from growing around your garden.
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Coffee Grounds In The Vegetable Garden
Used coffee grounds seem to have some misconceptions when it comes to vegetable garden use. They may be thought of as being acidic (they’re not) and useful for protecting against slugs (they don’t). These misconceptions and applications will be explained in further detail below.
Coffee Grounds As A Mulch
Coffee grounds can be used as a garden mulch but under certain conditions. The purpose of mulch is to prevent weed growth by inhibiting sunlight from entering the soil. It also keeps moisture in the soil on drier days.
Well, coffee grounds will keep weeds from growing in a garden — but they might also prevent your desired plants from growing too! The reasons for this are twofold.
Firstly, coffee grounds – even spent grounds – contain a substantial amount of caffeine. In the wild, the caffeine in the coffee seeds (beans) is used by the coffee plant to limit nearby competing plants’ growth. This can affect your own plants in your garden, even after roasting and processing.
Secondly, coffee grounds are composed of fine grains that lock together easily. This inhibits sunlight very well – almost too well.
If you are going to use coffee grounds as mulch, spread them out as much as you can, or mix them sparingly with leafmold (decaying leaves) or compost.
Coffee Grounds In Compost
Coffee grounds have been referred to as an excellent composting material – but this might not be the case. Studies have shown that coffee contains compounds that kill healthy soil-producing microbes and earthworms.
Coffee is considered a fresher, wet organic composting material (a “Green”), so if you use it as compost, mix it sparingly with plenty of dried grass, leaves, or wood (also referred to as “Brown” composting materials).
Coffee Grounds As A Fertilizer
Coffee grounds are considered better as a fertilizer — adding phosphorus, iron, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, chromium, and magnesium — elements useful for plant growth.
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That said, they may be sprinkled lightly on the soil around your vegetable plants. The higher proportion of “Brown” materials (or just regular soil) like in compost should remain the same.
Coffee Grounds As A Pesticide
Coffee grounds are not as useful as a pesticide as people think. They are not good at killing or even deterring slugs or ants.
A good use might be for larger animals like squirrels, deer, and rabbits – so long as you keep a 1/2 to a 1-inch thick layer of grounds around your gardening area.
However, as coffee grounds can be poisonous or even fatal to pets like cats and dogs, it might not be a good idea to do this in a close-quarters area, if at all.
Coffee Grounds As An Herbicide
This might be the best, unequivocal use for coffee grounds in gardens.
As the grounds (in somewhat larger quantities) inhibit sunlight and have a good deal of caffeine, they might be put to good use when trying to keep a plot of land free of weeds for a season.
As the grounds eventually wash away, the soil likely will be more ready to use.
What Plants Do Well With Coffee Grounds?
As used coffee is slightly acidic, more acidic, fresh coffee grounds are useful to individual acid-friendly plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, radishes, hydrangeas, carrots, and lily of the valley.
That said, tomatoes do not grow well with fresh coffee grounds — while broccoli, violas, radishes, leeks, and sunflowers do not respond well to used coffee grounds.
Using Coffee Grounds For Indoor Plants
You can use coffee grounds for indoor plants, but it is recommended to mix sparing amounts of coffee grounds into compost first.
Putting moist coffee grounds directly on indoor plants can retain excess moisture or cause harmful fungi to grow. The coffee grounds can be toxic to pets and can attract pests. It is best to mix coffee grounds with compost if you intend to use them at all.
Gardening Tips For Using Coffee Grounds
If you are using coffee grounds for mulch, fertilizer, or compost, make sure you put a small amount of used coffee grounds (up to 5% of your mixture), preferably into “brown” composting materials such as dried leaves, grass, and wood. Then spread the mixture around your garden.
You don’t want to sprinkle a heavy, or even a light, amount on your desired plants or their nearby soil — for a variety of reasons.
But if you are using the coffee grounds as a herbicide or animal deterrent, sprinkle them appropriately where you need to. Remember the effects excess coffee grounds may have on your garden soil or neighborhood pets (let’s say they’re detrimental, at best).
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When used with care in small amounts, coffee grounds can have a beneficial impact on your garden. Though their growing capabilities are somewhat limited, they can be used to some extent to combat unwanted plants and promote growth in some wanted ones.
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