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Are Coffee Grounds Good For Plants?

Written by Dr. Group, DC Founder
A bowl full of coffee beans. Coffee grounds can be used as a mulching agent.

You only need to walk past a coffee shop in any American city to see that our country loves Java. With so much coffee being consumed on a daily basis, it's encouraging to learn that there is a productive use for all those grinds. Next time you make a cup, save your coffee grounds and add them to the soil in your garden. For best results, use organic coffee if you will be consuming the fruits or vegetables you fertilize. Approximately 60% of the world's coffee beans are sprayed with potentially harmful pesticides.

Coffee Grounds as a Mulching Agent

Coffee’s breakdown materials can be used as a mulching and fertilizing agent for gardens. Aesthetically, coffee grounds can be used to make elegant black borders in flower gardens. The rich blackness offers a beautiful contrast to colored flowers and green herbs. For best results, mix with other forms of organic mulch. When used alone, the coffee tends to create a rich sludge that prevents the necessary air and water from entering.

Global Healing Institute

Coffee Grounds as a Compost Addition

Adding coffee to your compost or worm bin is a great idea. Again, it creates a nitrogen-rich soil result, and gardeners swear that worms fed with coffee will flourish. Researchers have also found that coffee grounds aid in keeping ideal temperatures in compost piles[1]. This allows the compost to stay free of potentially harmful pathogens that affect delicate seedlings later.

Coffee as a Fertilizer

As a fertilizer, used coffee grounds are slightly acidic and full of nitrogen, a mineral that aids vegetable and plant growth. Coffee grounds are particularly good for tomato plants, which thrive on nitrogen. When used for planting, the grounds create a natural acidic form of bacteria, which boosts the growth of acid-loving plants like tomatoes, roses, blueberries and evergreens. According to The Composting Council of Canada, adding coffee to soil increases the nutritional value, betters the texture and fertility of the soil, and aids in attracting earthworms[2].

Coffee as a Pesticide

Coffee ground mulch has the added benefit of deterring veggie- and flower-munching slugs and snails. There are also other organic pesticides that can also deter certain garden pests.

How to Use Coffee Grounds in Your Garden

coffee grounds on spoon

Don't use coffee grounds that have fermented or rotted. Use fresh organic grounds. Drip grounds tend to work better than boiled grounds, as they are higher in nitrogen content. You can also sprinkle some of the used grounds around flowers and vegetables before watering them for a slow release of nitrogen. Try buying compostable unbleached coffee filters, as this makes it easy to just throw both grinds and filters into your compost box.

For a quick fertilizing spray, dilute the grounds in purified water and spray directly on plants. Experts recommend using a half-pound of wet grounds to five gallons of water. You can also directly sprinkle grounds into houseplant soil or in your outdoor vegetable boxes.

Where to Get the Grounds?

Most homes and offices have at least one coffee drinker, usually more. Ask the person who purchases the coffee to start buying organic so people can recycle the grounds. This is an easy way to contribute to a greener world!

References (2)
  1. Oregon State University. Coffee grounds perk up compost pile with nitrogen. News & Research Communications. 3 Jul. 2008.
  2. Susan Antler. At Home With Compost. Compost Council of Canada.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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