Tips for Giving Your Plants More Perk With Coffee Grounds

My local coffee shop recently placed a box of used coffee grounds by the shop entrance. Gardeners in my neighborhood emptied that box faster than you can say, “Vanilla latte with skim milk, please!” 

What my gardening neighbors know is that coffee grounds can benefit your acid-loving plans when used correctly. Here are some tips to make the most of those grounds:

Use coffee grounds with acid-loving plants

The acid level of coffee is high, though the brewing process does lower the pH of the used grounds significantly. When using coffee grounds in the garden, only use them with acid-loving plans, especially if you plan on adding the grounds directly to your garden soil.

Acid-loving plants include: Evergreens and dogwood trees, blueberries, azaleas, hydrangeas, and rhododendrons.

Start with a small amount and then add more over time

When adding coffee grounds to the soil, start slowly. Add a small amount at a time and watch the results. The acidity may be too high for some plants and could harm them, especially if your soil is already acidic. 

Another option is to mix your coffee grounds with wood ash in a 50/50 mix, and then add a small amount of the mixture to your garden soil. The wood ash is high in carbon and is alkaline, so it balances the acidity of the coffee grounds.

Whether you use coffee grounds alone or mixed with wood ash, start with a small amount to measure the effect on your plants, then add more over time.

Make sure grounds are damp or wet

Dry coffee grounds can actually repel water away from your plants. Be sure that the coffee grounds are damp or wet when adding them to the soil. Mix the soil well so that the grounds are evenly distributed. 

Add coffee grounds to your compost bin

Still unsure if adding coffee grounds directly to your garden soil is a good choice for your plants? Then add the coffee grounds to your compost bin! Coffee grounds are considered a green addition to your compost bin. Layer them with leaves and grass clippings when adding them to your compost.

Research done by the Oregon State University/Lane County Extension Service found that coffee grounds help to sustain higher temperatures in compost bins, making seed germination more difficult – an added bonus when you’re worried about weeds in your compost.

Enjoy your garden…and your coffee!

Maybe you’ll find a generous coffee shop in your neighborhood willing to share their coffee grounds. Or perhaps you’ll just start saving the grounds from your morning cuppa. Either way, enjoy the perk up that coffee gives you and your garden!