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Which Plants Benefit from Coffee Grounds as Natural Fertilizer?

written by: •edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 7/5/2011

Coffee grounds are a useful and "green" way to increase the acidity of soil and provide plants with a greater supply of nitrogen for free or next to nothing. Learning how to utilize coffee grounds as fertilizer can be fun and easy.

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    Coffee Grounds: The all natural fertilizer

    Coffee grounds have long been touted as a great, low-cost fertilizer for homegrown gardens and flower displays. Coffee grounds are a great resource of nitrogen, the largely active ingredient in most fertilizers today and the element that assists plants in growing larger/healthier. Coffee grounds are also a good source of other nutrients and can actually help create a more acidic condition in the soil.

    Plants That Benefit From Coffee Grounds

    Plants that benefit from acidic soil conditions are likely candidates for composting/fertilizing with coffee grounds. A few of these plants are: Azaleas, Blueberries, Butterfly bush, Cardinal flowers, Cranberries, Ferns, Gardenias, Heathers, Mountain laurels, Oaks, Pecans, Rhododendrons, Spruces, and Yews. The soil surrounding these plants or that they are planted in can be sprinkled with used coffee grounds from a local coffee shop to increase the acidity of the soil and help provide more available free nitrogen for the plants.

    Other Uses:

    Coffee grounds can also reduce the impact of slugs and snails on your vegetable garden, thus utilizing dried coffee ground mulch around Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Beans, and Lettuce plants can also be a good idea. The grounds will ward off the slugs and snails, keeping them from damaging the vegetable plants and roots.

    Using coffee grounds to benefit certain types of plants is relatively easy and can be accomplished in several ways. A few simple methods include:

    • Visit a local coffee house and offer to cart away their used coffee grounds. Many shops, including the coffee giant Starbucks, will gladly give you their grounds for free.
    • Place the coffee grounds on a large baking sheet and place it in the oven at 325oF for an hour with the oven door ajar. This will thoroughly bake and dry out the coffee grounds, making them easier to use as mulch.
    • Mix the coffee grounds into the soil that you are using around plants and make sure to place several handfuls of the coffee mulch concoction under each root pack of the plants you are cultivating. This ensures there is significant nitrogen release near the roots of each plant.
    • Mix coffee grounds in with a water solution and spray house plants and other potted plants for a cheap and easy fertilizer.
    • Prior to a big rainstorm or watering, sprinkle dried coffee grounds around acid-loving plants. When the water hits the grounds, it will wash them directly down to the plant roots.
    • Add coffee grounds to existing compost piles to increase the nitrogen balance of the compost.

    Coffee grounds are a great “green" resource of fertilizer material for plants and gardens. Utilizing this resource will not only help you grow larger, healthier plants but will also help reduce municipal waste in the landfills.