You can use coffee grounds to fertilize succulents. But, if you’re using this kitchen leftover directly around the plant, then it may not be the best way.
Gardening experts recommend adding coffee grounds to your compost pile to ensure nutrients are added to your succulents.
Coffee grounds consist of 2 percent of nitrogen, 0.3% of phosphorus and 0.3% of potassium. Studies show to coffee grounds must be decomposed for the succulent plant to absorb these nutrients.
Though nutrients provided by coffee grounds are very less, as a gardener and nature lover, certainly you’d like to keep your environment free from scrap.
Instead of throwing the used coffee grounds, you can enrich the potting soil of succulent plants.
there are several myths and facts around its use in garden.
In this write-up, I’ll discuss benefits of coffee grounds backed by studies and burst some old myths too.
Are Coffee Grounds Good for Succulents?
Coffee grounds have nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other micronutrients, as mentioned here. But, these nutritional elements aren’t readily available for plants to absorb.
These compounds need to be decomposed first, only then succulent plants can benefit from them.
It can be one of the slow-releasing fertilizers for your plant.
But, there are reports that direct use of fresh coffee grounds can inhibit seed germination rate.
Also, applying coffee grounds directly around the plant can act as a barrier for air flow and result in overwatering or underwatering of succulents.
Though, many blogs over the internet claim that adding used coffee grounds can acidify your soil, this study report that decomposed coffee grounds show mildly acidic to alkaline in nature, that too pH change isn’t stable.
Does this mean it can’t benefit your succulent?
No, nitrogen and other nutrients mentioned above are still available in this kitchen leftover. You must know the appropriate way to reap them.
Before that, let me share few benefits.
Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds for Succulents
Nitrogen present in decomposed coffee grounds can boost growth and development of succulent leaves and stems.
Apart from this, other nutrients contribute in food production process called photosynthesis.
Though the volume of nutrients in coffee grounds is very less, it can’t be ignored.
When used along with potting soil, coffee ground is one of the best soil amendments for your succulent.
Under controlled conditions and on certain crops, it has proven that use of coffee grounds can suppress diseases. However, there are no scientific reports about its ability to fight succulent plant diseases.
Apart from composting, coffee grounds are used as direct fertilizer to the soil. However, you should remember that nitrogen in coffee grounds isn’t directly available for the plant. It acts as organic matter and improves drainage ability when used in sparingly.
How to Use Coffee Grounds for Succulents?
Don’t add coffee grounds directly to the potting soil; it may attract fungal infestation and make it difficult for succulent plant roots to breathe.
This is why it is important that you opt the right way to use coffee grounds.
1. Composting Coffee Grounds
It is the best way to use coffee grounds to fertilize succulent.
Even if you’re a container gardener, you must start to compost kitchen leftovers to enrich your indoor plants.
Including coffee grounds you can add brown and green material to the composting bin or tumbler.
Though coffee ground is brown, it adds green material to your compost.
Those who compost knew that you should maintain balance between green and brown material. Same goes with this kitchen leftover.
Even experts recommend adding only 20 percent of coffee grounds to your compost bin.
Adding more than prescribed percent can harm helpful bacteria in the compost.
Most people grow succulents indoors and might be worried about the foul smell from the compost. If you choose the plant in good air flow rooms, then within no time the smell disappears.
This article states that adding coffee grounds to compost will increase nitrogen content of the compost.
- Coffee grounds may take months to be decomposed. You can use the decomposed compost along with the potting soil.
- Before planting, add 1 part of compost to 2 parts of garden soil, 1 part of perlite and sand.
- As compounds in coffee grounds are subjected to composting, nutrients are readily available for the plant to absorb.
- If you missed while potting, you can spread 1 inch of compost around the succulent and cover it with a thin layer of garden soil.
- Regular watering will allow the plant roots to absorb the nutrients from this compost.
Check this out: Are Worm Castings Good for Succulents?
2. Coffee Grounds as Mulch
If you only use coffee grounds to mulch around the succulent, it may lead to overwatering or underwatering your plant.
Compact nature of coffee grounds can block free air circulation to roots and results in plant disorders.
This is why experts recommend mixing organic mulch like wood chips along with coffee grounds.
Add 4 inches of organic mulch over the thin layer of coffee ground, not more than half inch.
3. Liquid Fertilizer
Houseplant growers prefer liquid fertilizers, as it will be free from odor and readily absorbed by plant roots.
Fortunately, you can make liquid fertilizer from coffee grounds.
However, you shouldn’t rely solely on this fertilizer to enrich your succulents.
This process takes time, so I prefer composting coffee grounds instead of extracting liquid from it.
- For 2 weeks soak coffee grounds in water and stir every 3 days.
- Using a cloth strain the liquid and collect the obtained fertilizer liquid in a container.
- Now, this can be used to fertilizer your succulents.
4. Potting Soil
Without decomposing coffee grounds nutrients in it aren’t available for succulent.
However, few gardeners recommend mixing some amount of coffee grounds to the potting soil. They claim it can improve the drainage ability of the soil and adds organic matter.
Note: A study report claims that seed germination in soil with coffee grounds isn’t effective. So, you shouldn’t use such potting soil mix to grow young plants and to germinate seeds.
Also Read: Are Eggshells Good for Succulents?
What Succulents Like Coffee Grounds?
Actually most succulents thrive in well-drained soil. Adding coffee grounds to the potting soil is practiced by gardeners.
But, you should add it sparingly. Else, it might result in overwatering succulents.
However, best way to use coffee ground is to add it to composting bin. This way it can enrich your succulents and improve its growth.
Jade plant: Coffee grounds are known to work as a fertilizer that improves the growth of plants, and the Jade Plant with its glossy foliage can benefit from this considerably.
Echeveria: With its array of colors, this plant can be benefit from coffee grounds added to their soil mix.
Sedum: This low-maintenance will experience positive results after using coffee ground compost.
Aloe Vera: Known for its medicinal properties, aloe vera plant can get its share of nitrogen from decomposed coffee grounds.
Haworthia: Like most succulents, this plant too prefers well-drained soil and will benefit from coffee grounds.
Do Coffee Grounds Kill Succulents?
Certainly not, when used in moderation. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium present in coffee grounds benefit succulents and it contributes in the growth of the plant.
However, you shouldn’t over-use any fertilizer including coffee grounds. Also, there have been reports that excess use of coffee grounds inhibits seed germination.
It is always recommended to add coffee grounds to compost. If you want to use it along with potting soil, then mix coffee grounds with garden soil moderately.
Direct use of coffee grounds around the succulents can stop water flow and restrict free air flow.
Myths about Coffee Grounds Use for Plants
Internet is filled with myths and facts. Here I’ll discuss myths that are claimed over the web regarding use of coffee grounds.
- Though many reputed blogs claim that adding coffee grounds can improve soil pH, University of Arizona and Washington states that decomposed coffee grounds are mildly acidic to alkaline. It may not have serious impact on the soil pH.
- Coffee grounds can’t help you get rid of snails and slugs from the garden. There is no scientific evidence to back this theory.
- Mulching, pure coffee grounds can’t be used as mulching agent. As mentioned above, compact nature of coffee ground can interrupt easy air circulation. You must mix organic mulch along with coffee grounds.
- Coffee grounds can’t suppress diseases in all plants. Study carried show that coffee ground used in controlled environment on limited crops showed positive impact in controlling diseases. But, this is not proven on all plants.
Important Tips While Using Coffee Grounds for Succulents
Before incorporating coffee grounds into the potting soil, it is important to note below mentioned points.
- Moderate use is the key: As reports show excess use of coffee ground isn’t good for plant and compost alike. It can kill helpful bacteria in compost bin and inhibit growth of younger plants and seeds. A thin layer of decomposed coffee grounds is generally sufficient.
- Inspect your succulents: Closely how your succulent plants react to coffee ground application. If you n=identify signs of distress, such as yellowing of leaves, wilting, stunted growth, then stop using coffee grounds.
- Include other soil amendments along with coffee grounds: If you choose coffee grounds to be the sole amendment, then it may harm your succulent growth and can also result in watering stress. Mix organic materials like coconut coir or peat moss or perlite along with decomposed coffee grounds to ensure balanced nutritional intake.
- Avoid excess moisture: Succulents are drought tolerant and they are prone to overwatering. Most houseplants, including succulents love to grow in well-drained soil, spreading coffee ground over the soil can acts as barrier and interrupt in easy evaporation of excess moisture from the soil.
- Know growing requirements of your succulent: Do your home work to know preferences and tolerances of different succulent species. This is to ensure that coffee grounds application will align with their needs.
- As a gardener you must expert and adjust, it is a dynamic process. As mentioned, every plant has different growing requirements. You should ensure to replicate its native growing environment.
Note: Don’t use coffee grounds directly on succulents. As already mentioned, add the leftover coffee grounds to the compost. So that it gets decomposed and can be used to enrich succulents, ornamental and other indoor plants.
Is it good idea to use coffee grounds to fertilize succulents?
Coffee grounds are packed with nutrients that are not negligible. But, the way you choose to use coffee ground will have major impact on your succulents.
Composting is the best way to use coffee grounds. But, this doesn’t mean you should rush to get loads of coffee grounds from vendor. This shouldn’t exceed 20 percent of the total volume of the compost pile.
Apart from adding nitrogen to compost, you can use coffee grounds mixed with organic mulch to spread around the plant.
There is no scientific evidence that use of coffee grounds can remove slugs or snails.
Composting is the only way I personally recommend to use coffee grounds for succulents.
Khaja Moinuddin, a computer science graduate, finds joy in gardening and homesteading. Join him on this blog as he shares his experiences in homesteading, gardening, and composting