To pee or not to pee... that is the question

johnmerr(11)September 30, 2011

Since this seems to be a recurrent issue; and as there is considerable disagreement as to whether to pee on your lemons or not, I will take this opportunity to add my opinions (I hesitate to call it wisdom)

First peeing on lemons is a long held folk wisdom for making them prosper. To examine the issue scientifically, human urine contains urea (nitrogen) and is pH 6, so it tend to acidify the soil...both good for lemons; the downside is it may contain some semi-toxic salts; but assuming the lemon gets regular watering, not a real problem. Some people use a little vinegar to acidify the soil (acidifying increases the uptake of minerals); as long as the vinegar is apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or wine vinegar it basically provides acetic acid without any sugars which could enduce mold or attract ants... Note, it is the methodology of producing the above vinegars that results in zero residual sugar.

Commercially, i.e. in field crop lemons, we more commonly use phosphoric acid for several reasons... the addition of phosphorous to encourage blooms; we can put it in the drip irrigation system; and it kills the rats that chew the drip irrigation tubing looking for water.

Another factor, for me.. I don't have enough people to pee on 7,000 trees every day; but I do encourage workers to do so when they wish. As a final warning, DO NOT let your dog pee on your lemon; it will burn young trees badly; cats are less damaging, but still unwise to allow it.

And that is about all I have to say on the subject.

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

In the yard, in-ground, sure...just don't urinate on the plant directly.

In a container, the salts (which you mention) are more likely to accumulate.
Also, urine is an unpredictable fertilizer that doesn't provide a consistent N value.

Composting urine or applying to in-ground gardens is just fine.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 7:38PM
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Well, as I said, there are serious differences of opinion.
The nice thing about this site is that the advice is free... and sometimes you get what you pay for!

My experience includes only 50 years and 50 countries; which is why I hesitate to call it wisdom.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 8:00PM
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Pee does wonders for my in-ground citrus. Lots of coffee, too.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 8:34PM
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I am a coffee fanatic...luckily, I live in Guatemala which has the finest coffee in the world. Coffee left over in your cup and coffee grounds are wonderful for a WIDE variety of plants, and since they are just throw aways anyway.. what the hey!... I once worked in an office that had one philodendron plant in a small pot, that went up to the ceiling and all the way around the office... and the ONLY thing it ever got was the coffee dregs from the workers' cups as they walked by to get a fresh cup....NO water, NO fertilizer... only coffee.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 8:45PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Differences of opinion? I hope not, since I was agreeing with you ;-)
Coffee grounds, too. In the ground, of course...or fresh as mulch around the garden beds.
Starbucks has large bags of coffee grounds for the taking (last time I was there),
which is another great resource for those with a Starbucks in the area.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 11:56PM
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At my work we have one of the k-kup coffee makers. My colleagues tease me for rummaging through the trash periodically to steal those little cups for fertilizer. Since the coffee is blended beans from all over the world, I figure it's got all the nutrients I need. I just dump them on the top of the soil and work it in a couple of cm. Seems to work wonders combined with quarterly osmocote treatments. But that's hardly any empirical evidence, just my opinion.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 8:58AM
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The joke is, I come from a small town... we only had 3 Starbucks. Truth re: Starbucks and Guatemala... the house blend of Starbucks is 60% Guatemalan beans; and Starbucks buys almost 40% of the Guatemalan coffee crop annually... and how this citrus forum got onto coffee, only the gods can say.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 11:44AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Coffee and orange juice, the continental breakfast ;-)

Windysheets, coffee grounds most certainly - empirically - do not have all the nutrients
your plants need. Not even close.

The Osmocote, that's some reliable stuff.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 12:34PM
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I love me the Osmocote, but it seems to be light on the micro-nutrients which is were the coffee grounds come in. But really, I 'use' (steal them from the trash) just to look quirky and eccentric at the office.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 6:33PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Osmocote Plus has Calcium, I believe, and perhaps a few other micros, as well.
I include Osmocote when I mix the soil to have a charge of nutrients at the start...
but I mainly fertilize with Foliage Pro, which contains all the micro-nutrients.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 7:16PM
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I can't imagine peeing on my two container citrus and then bringing the pots inside. It would probably cause my male dog to start marking all over my townhome.

I know this is a citrus forum, but on another note, do you think Guatemala would be a good place to retire? My retirement savings and townhome value seem to be going down each day, and I'm thinking I may have to move out of the USA to retire. I have lived in the tropics before [two years is Ghana, West Africa and one year in Puerto Rico] and loved it. Would love to live somewhere where I could grow citrus outside the whole year around...


    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 8:22PM
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Guatemala City and Antigua Guatemala are both known as "City of Eternal Springtime"... houses don't have heating or air conditioning; and you have to go out every morning with a big stick and beat your plants to try to keep them under control. Seriously, I have been in 48 countries and 46 of the 50 US States; Guatemala is among my top 5... and there are economic opportunities, like growing Meyer lemons, that really don't exist in many places. Check out and come for a visit.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 9:27PM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

I have a meiwa kumquat tree grown from seed obtained from a kumquat I eight. I also have poncirus trifoliata trees from seed. When I urinated on my P.T.'s the burst out in yellow growth and there tops died. Apparently P.T.'s don't take urine at all. I only have one meiwa and don't want to experiment with it. When I started urinating on my vegetable,fruit trees& fruit vines they burst out in growth. My blueberries died and the P.T.'s darn near so. Can I use urine safely on own roots kumquat and/or my sweet-lee tangerine trees from seed..

What I have done.
very Low salt diet
lots of fluids for dilution
consum greens high in the trace elements the kumquat trees need
no junk food
use masks when sanding old paint "lead"

This is to insure a clean source of urine

thanks for your help

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 9:29PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

never use urine directly - compost it, and dilute it with water. A lot of folks recommend a 10:1 ratio of water to urine, added once a week only.

That said, I will not recommend urine for containers.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:21AM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH


Thanks for the advice I'll use urine in my compost pile and use fish emulsion fertilizer for my potted plants.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 9:35PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Just as an aside but adding vinegar to the irrigation water really does nothing. While the vinegar's are acidic it is a natural organic acid and as such it is readily consumed by the soil bacteria and once consumed you lose the acid effect. It is better as you suggest to use phosphoric or sulfuric acid. It is readily available as battery acid is 33% sulfuric acid. I use 93% sulfuric acid, have a 55 gallon barrel of it in fact but I have a lot of blueberries.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 9:36PM
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BahamaDan ZTropic

Do you have any before and after photos of the effects of using the sulphuric acid BR? Just curious.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2014 at 1:20AM
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Urine by itself is too strong and will 'burn' the citrus tree. Also, if you have some sort of bladder infection don't pee on the tree either.

Dilute the urine. Usually 8-10 parts water per 1 part urine with 1 part wood ash mixed in. That's a good ratio once per week. Don't worry about the smell, once diluted with wood ash mixed in it's non-existent.

Oh, and don't forget to wash your hands...

As for coffee grounds from Starbucks, yes, that's a great place to get them. Just ask if you can take one of the trash cans full of used grinds and they'll probably give it to you for free or save it for you if you tip them well. They've had this program on the qt for some time now as it lowers their trash usage and waste costs and let's them feel good about helping gardeners.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2014 at 2:47AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Bamboo Rabbit misunderstands the application of vinegar in a container gardening context. The point is not to acidify the actual potting media, but rather to lower the pH of the fertigating solution while the plant takes up nutrients.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2014 at 12:53PM
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