Coffee grounds can be used as a fertilizer however it is best if they are broken down before adding to your succulent plants. Add used coffee grounds to your compost and you can use this compost to put up new succulents or to improve the soil. You can sprinkle used coffee ground around outdoor succulents and soil microbes will break it down over time releasing the nutrients.
It is best not to add coffee grounds straight on to potted indoor succulents. There will not be enough soil microbes to break down the coffee grounds into useful components. They can also contain chemicals which can harm your plants.
In summary, add coffee grounds to your compost and let them break down, sprinkle small amounts of coffee grounds around outdoor succulents and avoid adding them to potted succulents in raw form.
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Do succulents like ground coffee?
Coffee can be used to feed succulents if it is treated right. Ground coffee that has already been used can be sprinkled in small amounts around outdoor succulents.
Soil microbes will move in, break down the coffee into its components and will make the nutrients available for the plants. Another great way to feed succulents with coffee grounds is to add them to your compost. Let it all break down for at least 6 months and then use the sifted compost to mix with your potting or ground soil.
Coffee grounds make the soil slightly acidic which is fine for most succulents. Avoid adding too much of the coffee at any time. A small sprinkling around the root zone so you can still see the soil will be fine.
Add compost in a 1:4 ratio to the soil mix and you can help to feed your succulents gently.
Nutrients in coffee grounds
Coffee has some great nutrients that can gently feed succulents. Succulents need small amounts of fertilizer each year. Potted succulents in particular will be completely reliant you for their nutrient needs as they use up those in the soil.
Nitrogen – 2%
As the coffee grounds are broken down by soil bacteria they will release the nitrogen making it available for the plant.
Magnesium is important for succulents to develop the chlorophyll in their leaves. Coffee grounds include small amounts of magnesium and slowly release this to your plants.
Trace amounts of calcium can exist in coffee grounds. Calcium is needed for the growth of the plant tissues and will help it to grow larger and stronger.
There are varying amounts of potassium in coffee grounds depending on how it has been grown and processed. Potassium is essential for the movement of nutrients, water and carbohydrates throughout the plant. Without adequate amounts of potassium, the growth of your succulents will slow.
Why you should not add coffee grounds straight to potted succulents
It is best to avoid adding coffee grounds straight onto the soil of potted succulents, particularly those grown indoors. Coffee grounds need to be broken down by microbes in the soil to release the nutrients so the plant can absorb them. In potting soil there are not as many of these microbes and the coffee grounds will not be of any benefit.
Coffee grounds can also contain chemicals which can get into the soil and affect the succulent’s growth. While outdoors these chemicals can be broken down by soil microbes, indoors or in potting soi this will not happen as quickly.
For more tips on growing succulents, check out this video.
Problems with coffee grounds as fertilizer
There are a few things to note when using coffee grounds as a fertilizer for your succulents. While coffee grounds can be a great addition to your garden, there are a few things to note first.
They do not contain the full range of nutrients
Coffee grounds are a natural product and will contain varying amounts of nutrients. Depending on how the coffee has been grown and processed, it will contain a range of nutrients in different amounts.
To ensure that your succulents are getting all of the nutrients they need, use an all-purpose fertilizer or top up regularly with organic matter. Coffee grounds can form part of your fertilizing regime but it should not be the only thing added to your plants.
Add compost to the soil, pelleted chicken manure, aged manures or a well-rounded organic fertilizer.
It is important to feed indoor succulents with a well-rounded indoor plant food once per year so they can continue to grow well.
Coffee grounds can contain chemicals
Depending on how the coffee has bene processed it may contain chemical compounds that can harm plants. Adding a small amount to the soil outdoors will usually be fine as the soil microbes will move in and break them down.
For indoor or potted plants however there will be less soil microbes and the chemicals will stay in the soil for longer. This can slow plant growth and may cause die back.
Avoid adding unbrewed coffee grounds to the plants
Avoid adding coffee that has not been brewed to succulents. There will be residual caffeine in the coffee which can damage the plants.
Are Coffee Grounds Good for Succulents? | Summary
Coffee grounds can be used as a mild fertilizer for outdoor succulents. The soil microbes will slowly break the coffee grounds down releasing nutrients including nitrogen, potassium and calcium into the soil. The plants will be able to absorb these nutrients once they have been processed.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.