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Are Coffee Grounds Good for Pepper Plants? What to Know!

red chili pepper plant close up

You may not have given it much thought, but your morning cup of coffee has more uses than an energy kick or mood boost, and the satisfaction doesn’t need to end after your last sip. We are talking about your used coffee grounds that get tossed without much thought, and you may be surprised to learn that your used coffee grounds are beneficial to your garden.

Not all plants will benefit from your cup of Joe, but in this article, we will discuss how your grounds can be a possible beginning to the life of a pepper plant.

But are coffee grounds good for pepper plants?

The answer is yes! Although pepper plants are typically easy to grow, adding coffee grounds to your compost or pepper plant’s soil mixture can optimize your plants’ growth potential.

Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen and can revitalize and rejuvenate your plant if used sparingly. So, the next time you consider throwing out your coffee grounds, consider saving them for your pepper plants instead.

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Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds can be a great source of essential nutrients that plants need to grow and flourish, and they can provide up to 60 days of nutrient coverage for pepper plants. They include:

  • Nitrogen
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen
  • Iron
  • Zinc

The nutrient that makes coffee grounds a pro tip for garden enthusiasts is Nitrogen. A sufficient nitrogen supply promotes strong stems, root systems and healthy leaf growth, which protects the peppers from sunburn and minimizes temperature changes that can affect growth. If your pepper plant gets too much nitrogen, it may produce more leaves, but little peppers. Phosphorus and potassium are beneficial for the plant’s water intake and producing a healthy root system.

Apart from providing nutrients to plants, coffee grounds can also remove toxins such as heavy metals from the soil. Coffee grounds improve soil aeration, deter insects, fight diseases, and increase soil water retention.

Earthworms love to eat coffee grounds; they will turn the organic matter into nutrient-rich pepper plant food and pull the grounds deeper into the soil.

shovel with coffee grounds to fertilize the lawn
Image Credit: Janet Worg, Shutterstock

How Do You Use Coffee Grounds to Plant Peppers?

Coffee grounds can be used to fertilize your pepper plant at any stage of development, but they are best added at the start when growth is most important.

Coffee grounds can be composted or added directly to the soil, but the coffee grounds that you add must be used. They are already broken down and are also less acidic and contain less caffeine. If you are not an avid coffee drinker and don’t have a regular supply of used coffee grounds, visit a local coffee shop or friend or family member that drinks coffee religiously, and they will most likely appreciate you taking their used grounds off their hands.

If you choose to compost your grinds, then 10- 20% is an ideal amount of grinds for your compost heap to thrive, but more than can be phytotoxic. Coffee grounds are considered a green compost material and need to be balanced with the addition of brown compost material.

Using coffee grounds as mulch is another popular method by spreading a thin layer of about 0.5 inches – 1 inch over the soil and combining them with water to create a liquid that can be poured or sprayed over the plant.

It is essential that the nitrogen in coffee grounds is not immediately available but is released over time. It usually takes 4-6 months for the nitrogen to dissolve in the soil. Coffee grounds are great for pepper plants in the long run because of their slow-release nature, but they are less effective in the short term.

If you’re getting more new shoots but not enough peppers, stop adding grounds. Unless your soil is notably deficient in nitrogen, one or two treatments per growing season should suffice.

Coffee grounds are not beneficial to all plants because some plants do not benefit from high nitrogen levels, but peppers benefit greatly from the addition of nitrogen. Used coffee grounds should be used sparingly, and it is best to mix a small amount into your soil.

putting used coffee grounds on the plants
Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

Can Coffee Grounds Harm a Pepper Plant?

As mentioned previously, Coffee grounds have a high nitrogen content and are acidic. Excessive acidity and nitrogen toxicity can harm and kill your pepper plant, so moderation is essential. The caffeine content of your grounds can affect your plants, but it will vary depending on the type of coffee grounds used, their age, and other factors. Too much caffeine can stunt your plant’s growth and sometimes shock and kill it.

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Final Thoughts

Using your used coffee grounds is a great way to enhance your pepper plant’s growth potential. Composting coffee grinds will help add nitrogen to your compost heap, and using them as a fertilizer will optimize your soil by improving drainage and aeration. It is best to introduce the grounds in the early stages of growth and use them sparingly, but the nitrogen-packed addition to your garden will be something your pepper plants will love.


Featured Image Credit: Hans Linde, Pixabay

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Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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