Who loves coffee, besides me? If you’re smiling right now I’m going to say you, and if that’s true I’ve got good news; some plants also love coffee too!

Many different plants, ornamental and edible, love soil that’s slightly more on the acidic side. Flowers like rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, and zinnias especially enjoy a pH range of around 5 or 6 while edibles like sweet potato, cranberries, and blueberries prefer an even more acidic levels of 4.8 or 5. Anything lower than that though can be really damaging to microorganisms and overall soil health, but the ranges above are generally safe!

But Why?

Coffee grounds normally just get thrown out with the trash, but hopefully not anymore! Incorporating them into your garden is a low cost or even free way to keep acidic loving plants happy because they slowly release nitrogen into the soil. 

But How?

I just dig a very shallow ditch around the base of the plant (not directly around the stem though), sprinkle the grounds and then cover them back up with soil. As it rains and/ or you water they’ll break down and feed your plant(s)! If you’re not an eye-baller or intuitive gardener that’s okay too, don’t worry! There’s no shame in being precise! Keep reading.

A few tips if you choose to try this with your plant babies:

  • Let the grounds cool before adding them to the soil. Beneficial bacteria and microbes can be killed by heat.
  • Apply only a thin layer, less than 1/2 inch, or a light sprinkling of grounds on the soil. A thick layer can compact and make a barrier that keeps water and air from getting through to the plant’s roots. 
  • Cover the coffee grounds with a layer of organic mulch, such as shredded leaves or wood chips if outdoors. The mulch helps the coffee grounds decompose and release the nitrogen into the soil more quickly. Apply up to 4 inches of mulch or soil. This step is especially important if you’ve got potted plants since the coffee granules will hold moisture and can cause fungus growth!
  • Don’t drink coffee? No problem! Lots of cafes, coffee shops and restaurants will give you a bag FOR FREE! Just ask and in my experience the answer 98% of the time is, “yes, please take them!” You can even bring your own bag or bucket to reduce even more waste!