coffee grounds

averageMay 27, 2005

I was very interested in the coffee ground message. I've heard that leftover coffee is also good for plants in the garden.Is this true as I always have leftover coffee. Also, are the coffee grounds placed around the plant or are they scattered on the soil? I am very, very new to gardening and have many questions,but I will tackle one thing at a time. I love this site. Thanks for any help I may receive.

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Acid loving plants will adore you for watering them with your leftover coffee; I've given it to my azaleas and hydrangea. I usually run another pot of water through, using the same grinds. I also put the water my compost bin.

On a sorta-kinda related note, years ago I worked in a building with not many windows. Everyone dumped their coffee, tea and soda outside my window. The patch of grass where everything was dumped was the greenest and the most lush in the entire area.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 9:40AM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

Coffee grounds are good organic stuff to add to your garden....just as other kinds of kitchen waste are.
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 10:15AM
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sallym(z4 MN)

I dilute any leftover coffee and water my hostas with them. Some folks (and me) say that putting a ring of coffee grounds around hostas seems to deters slugs. But in general, it doesn't matter if you scatter them on the soil or put a ring around the plant. Worms love them and worms are good for your garden soil.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 10:57AM
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sallym(z4 MN)

P.S. don't put down too thick of a layer of coffee grounds. They become water repellent when they dry out.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 11:00AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Used coffee grounds don't acidify the soil, though they sure are a good amendment for the soil and compost pile. Assuming that those coffee grounds are acidic is natural, I guess, since we all know that coffee is acidy. THAT is where the acid is, in your cup of coffee! The grounds are virtually neutral in pH.

It's not a good idea that you use so much of the grounds that you are practically replacing the soil, but a reasonable amount is very beneficial for the soil and soil macro and microorganisms.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 11:09AM
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duckee(z6 MA)

When I take the paper basket filter out of my coffee maker, I spread the grounds somewhat evenly over it, then place the whole thing -- paper and all, like a coffee grounds pancake! -- under a section of wood mulch, recover it, and let the worms do the rest :)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 11:18AM
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Thanks so much everyone. The info was very helpful.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 8:33PM
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annoval(z7 NC)

After reading a post last year on this site about coffee grounds keeping the slugs away, I started saving them and using them in a loose ring around my hostas. It appears to be working because I no longer find big bites out of them.
Thanks GardenWeb!! Now if I could only get rid of all the ants that love my yard...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 7:13PM
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urthshaper(z3 alberta, Can)

Ants supposedly don't like catnip. I'm trying it. A little concerned about the neghbor's cat though....

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 11:32PM
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EngiN117(7a GA)

Would tea leaves have a good effect as well?


    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 5:32PM
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I use tea leaves much the same way as I use coffee grounds:
scatter around, stir into planting soil, etc.

The main difference I've found is that wet tea leaves "ferment" & get slimey-ish & smell like, well, like they've fermented.

So I break the bag open & scatter them at once.

Coffee grounds sometimes aren't used until the week-end.

By the way, does everyone here know to get bags of grounds from Starbucks?

You just go in & say "Hi, do you have any grounds for the garden?"

It's a Starbucks corporate policy, good for image, plus it reduces their waste disposal expense 'cause *you* are "taking out the garbage"!

Every so often someone will run across a Starbucks that "doesn't do that".

If you encounter this, find out why:
some stores, such as the ones inside Target stores, are franchises, & they abide by Target policy rather than Starbucks.

But if they're a "real" Starbucks, they should give you their "grounds for the garden".

My garden loves Starbucks.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 5:53PM
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tealeaves are good for roses.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 9:34PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

That must be why they call them tea roses? ;o)


    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 5:33PM
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EngiN117(7a GA)

Thank you for all of your post. This has been most helpful and I will also go to a starbucks nearby to ask for the coffee grounds for the garden.
Have a wonderful day,

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 7:07PM
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How about instant coffee for acid loving plants?


    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 8:42PM
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I don't know what's in instant coffee besides coffee.
If it's just coffee, it's just coffee.
But what if it isn't???

Brewing removes most of the acid from the grounds & puts it into your cup, so used grounds, while excellent for the garden as a whole, might not be acidic enough to make any difference to azaleas/camillias/gardenias, etc.

& I don't know what the acid content of un-used coffee grounds or instant coffee would be.

It's an interesting question, though:

You might post on the Soil/Compost/Mulch Forum.
Somebody over there is sure to know!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 6:04PM
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My tree gardenia has ants! Is this a good thing?
I want to bring it indoors in a months time but don't want to bring the ants along with it. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 4:02PM
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weeddummie(ACT Aust)

I was interested to hear that people basically sprinkle their coffe/tea grounds evenly on/under the soil surface (i've heard about putting them in compost heaps though). Does this mean that I can do this with li'l bits of compostable material around too? Say after cooking with a small bits of veggies, can I just put the pieces evenly on the final location on the garden bed. Oh at least...agitate it a bit several times over a week or so until it breaks down?

(I haven't had time to work on a proper composting yet)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 3:28AM
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Canoebunny, maybe you can drench the gardenia to drown the ants:

run water through the pot until it's soaked, then put it inside a bigger tub that doesn't have a drainage hole,& fill the tub.

Leave it for several hours, then remove the pot & let the excess water drain away.


The great things about coffee & tea grounds are that they're already itsy-bitsy, they pretty much don't smell, & they don't have to be broken down by microbes.

If you have a fallow garden (one that hasn't been planted yet), then you easily can do what you're talking about. It's sometimes call sheet composting, composting in place, or lasagna gardening, depending on the details.

You layer greens & browns, & plant the bed once they have composted.

Lasagna gardening is good for creating new beds:
put down several layers of cardboard and/or paper, using many layers & lots of overlap to prevent grass & weed seeds from germinating, then add a layer of nitrogen such as coffee, tea, or kitchen scraps, etc., & top it with some soil & then mulch to keep everything from blowing away.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 12:47PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)


Ummm. A soak several hours long is likely to drown your plant's roots!

Beyond that, it won't drown the ants that are living in the rootball. They'll simply climb to the top of the plant.

But you can soak the rootball and also provide a bridge from the pot to the edge of the soaking pan so that the ants have a way to escape.

That said, know that *your* gardenia likely has ants because the plant has scale and/or mealybugs. Take care of the scale or mealies and the ants will leave of their own accord.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 12:56PM
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EngiN117(7a GA)

I continue to get grounds for the garden from Starbuck's. I love this as I do not actually make enough coffee here at home to feed my garden.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 5:25PM
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Hi, I know this is an old post but as a newbie who is trying to save my gardenias (one seems ok, the other is growing leaves, but some are turning very brown and falling off. I suspect from insects, but am not sure yet...), I would like to use coffee to acidify the soil. In my case, there is no Starbucks or equivalent where I live, so I will go for the coffee cups...
My only question: how often should I used coffee on my gardenias? Every time I water them or only occasionally? Should I alternate diluted coffee with regular water?
the same question applies for my hortensia (hydragena)

Thanks for any advice you may have,

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 6:10AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Nihal - I wish you had made a new posting of your question! We could have said all sorts of things about gardenias...

Okay, your question is a good one. How often you use coffee grounds, or tea leaves, or coffee right from the pot will depend upon the basic acidity of your soil AND how often AND how much you apply! Very few of us have soil that is already so acidic as to be affected by the temporary addition of another acidic material, however, I have no idea what *your* soil is like. Adding coffee and/or coffee grounds IS a very mild temporary acidifier, with the effect usually not lasting much past a heavy rain -- so keeping in mind that unless you feed each plant a quart [liter] of strong coffee every day, they aren't going to overdose because there is so little acid in the product. And my hydrangeas wouldn't blink at having a quart of coffee every day, but they are awfully big plants :)

Frankly, IMHO, coffee grounds are mainly a pleasant form of adding organic material for the plant's immediate use, with the additional benefit that most earthworms like coffee and will come to visit, leaving their wonderful castings for your plant. Liquid coffee is also a slug killer - however, it must be very, very strong (2%) to actually kill them, and it must be applied regularly, especially after every rain.

So to answer you question, you can apply the coffee and/or grounds as often as you wish, with or without additional water. The only thing to watch out for, is that a pile of dried coffee grounds has a tendency to be water repellent -- that tendency can be averted by either scratching the grounds into the soil around the plant or by mixing the grounds with a bit of soil and then applying around the plant.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 2:17PM
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Thanks Meldy! Your response was very helpful. I have an acidity gauge at home, so will check the soil although I am pretty sure it has close to nil acidity... My plants (Gardenia and the Hydrangeas) are both potted, indoors, and worms are not really an option... but I will try the regular liquid coffee and see how that goes.

Thanks again for all your help,

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 8:11PM
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I have a Gardenia plant that has taken off this summer outdoors.
Although, I am courious as to how well it will do indoors this winter.
I live In Zone 7; and cannot leave it out!
I have been feeding it "coffee" (liquid) over the summer; is it time to stop?????
I still have buds and some blooms.
And.... should I still continue to feed until I don't have blooms???

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 11:20PM
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How often do you need to put coffee grounds around hostas to keep the slugs away?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:24AM
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