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What Plants Like Coffee Grounds? Creative Gardening Tips

coffee grounds gardening

Coffee grounds are a popular compost material and they can do wonders for your garden — if you use them well. Not all plants will thrive on a coffee diet, so it’s important to avoid throwing those beans around.

What plants like coffee grounds, and which parts of your garden should you avoid? We will show you how to use coffee in your garden — the right way. Using coffee grounds for plants can be a great gardening trick, but only if you do it the right way.

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First of all… what’s in a coffee ground?

We don’t mean this metaphorically. What are coffee grounds made of, chemically speaking? Coffee grounds are full of nitrogen, a crucial plant nutrient. They also contain caffeine. Surprisingly, coffee grounds are neutral on the pH scale, instead of acidic as you might expect. This is because the acid is water-soluble and ends up in your cup rather than the grounds.

coffee grounds
Image Credit: Andrea Tummons, Unsplash

And what about caffeine? Though humans enjoy the effects of a caffeinated cup of joe, plants like coffee and chocolate developed caffeine to cut down on the competition. Caffeine prevents other plants from growing — allowing the caffeinated plant to make use of all of the available water and nutrients in the soil. What does that mean for your garden? Adding caffeinated coffee grounds may impede the growth of your plants.

What are the benefits of gardening with coffee grounds?

coffee grounds compost
Image Credit: Background expert, Shutterstock

Coffee grounds provide nitrogen, a classic ingredient in most fertilizers. Plants need nitrogen to grow. Coffee grounds are also popular with worms, so if you’re vermicomposting or trying to encourage worms, they can be a great addition. And according to one study, coffee grounds can help your soil retain water, meaning you won’t have to water as often and can diminish weed growth. Keep in mind that the same study also showed decreased plant growth overall.

Keeping Away Pests

garden pests snails
Image Credit: Luke Brugger, Unsplash

Coffee grounds may also protect your plants from pests like slugs and snails. The grounds are abrasive, meaning these pests won’t like crawling over them to get to your tasty plants.

Some gardeners swear by coffee grounds as a cat repellent. If you often have cats digging around in your plants or using your garden as a litter box, you may want to consider adding coffee grounds to the soil.

Keep in mind that coffee’s ability to protect your garden from pests hasn’t been fully studied, so it may not work for you.

What plants like coffee grounds?

coffee for roses plants

The plants that like coffee grounds include roses, blueberries, azaleas, carrots, radishes, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, cabbage, lilies, and hollies.

You’ll want to avoid using coffee grounds on plants like tomatoes, clovers, and alfalfa. When in doubt, it is probably safer to put your used coffee grounds in the compost bin — or check out our list of other uses for them!

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Coffee Grounds in Your Garden: The Bottom Line

Using coffee grounds in your garden has its share of pros and cons, and we hope this article has answered your questions. Coffee can impede plant growth, but it may also keep away certain pests. Plants like carrots, roses, cabbage, and hydrangeas like coffee grounds — but avoid using them on tomatoes and clovers. If you are not sure, the compost bin is always a good place for spent coffee grounds! The bottom line? Coffee grounds for plants can supercharge your garden — but this trick will only work on certain plants.

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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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