Are coffee grounds good for houseplants?

Fertilizing is a crucial aspect of plant care, and you should be well-informed about the various natural fertilizers available, especially when it comes to houseplants. Many questions will arise when you consider using natural fertilizers for your indoor plants, and one question that many people ask is, “Are coffee grounds good for houseplants?”

Coffee grounds are, of course, good for indoor plants. Coffee is a rich organic material loaded with micronutrients and excessive nitrogen content. Moreover, it has high-retention properties, making it ideal for plant growth.

Read on to know more about how to use coffee grounds the right way to fertilize houseplants, the benefits of using coffee grounds, and the type of coffee you should use. Let’s get started!

outdoor plants and indoor plants coffee grounds

Table of Contents

How to use coffee grounds for houseplants?

While you may be inclined to directly add the coffee grounds to the soil of your indoor plants, this is not a recommended practice, because it can lead to many problems. Yet, I have some great options for how you can successfully use coffee grounds as a fertilizer for your houseplants.

potting soil is combined with coffee grounds


The ideal way to use coffee grounds for your indoor plants is to compost them. You can add all of the used coffee grounds to the compost pile in your house and wait until it is ready for use.

Homemade compost delivers sufficient nutrients to make your houseplants thrive. Moreover, other constituents in the compost will balance the high nitrogen content present in coffee grounds. You can add a thin layer of this compost to the top layer of the soil, apply it when repotting, or work it well a few inches into the soil.

When using homemade compost containing coffee grounds on your houseplants, there are two things I would like you to remember:

  1. If you apply compost in excess, it can result in foliage burn. You may also witness symptoms of nutrient toxicity. To avoid this, you should be adding just one inch of compost to the pot.
  2. Since compost is rich in organic matter, it tends to naturally retain water, thereby increasing the risk of overwatering. Don’t forget this aspect and its better to go easy when it comes to watering to prevent such problems.
coffee and compost mixture

Liquid Coffee Houseplant Fertiliser

As mentioned earlier, it is not recommended to directly pour coffee over the soil. Instead, you can prepare a compost “tea” using your coffee grounds, which actually works well on your indoor plants.

There are several methods to make compost tea. However, one of the simplest methods is to add the coffee grounds to a container filled with water and allow it to soak for one to two weeks. Make sure you stir it every few days. The coffee will start to decompose, and in the process, it will release essential nutrients into the water. Besides, it serves as a breeding ground for good bacteria. You can use this liquid to water your plants after straining it through a cheesecloth.

This compost tea not only acts as a rich source of nutrients but also adds beneficial bacteria that enhance soil health, and ultimately contribute to the healthy growth of your houseplants.

liquid coffee

Mix coffee grounds with potting mix

Being an organic material, coffee grounds tend to release their nutrients slowly into the soil as they decompose. Hence, you can use coffee grounds as an excellent slow-release fertilizer. You can add them to the regular potting mix when repotting the plant.

Advantages of using coffee grounds for houseplants

I have four reasons why you should be using coffee grounds to help your indoor plants thrive.

Coffee grounds are rich in nutrients

The two major nutrients that plants require to survive are phosphorus and nitrogen. And, coffee grounds have high levels of nitrogen. Perhaps, they are composed of nearly 2% nitrogen by volume, eventually making them an excellent choice to ensure your houseplants are getting a boost of nitrogen nutrients.

Moreover, coffee grounds are packed with a number of amazing micronutrients your plant will love. Micronutrients, including iron, magnesium, calcium, and more, are all present in coffee grounds.

Coffee grounds are easily accessible

You don’t have to spend hours looking for coffee grounds. They are readily available in your kitchen. What’s more, you can also get used coffee grounds from a friendly neighbor.

Coffee grounds are eco-friendly

By using leftover coffee grounds for your houseplants, you are not adding to the global garbage problem. What would otherwise be considered a contribution to environmental pollution is being utilized to make your plants thrive. Besides, this is a natural way to enhance your plants’ health without the use of artificial fertilizers.

Using coffee grounds for your indoor plants is inexpensive

If you buy synthetic fertilizers, you will certainly be spending a great deal of money on plant care. But coffee grounds are a great choice to bring down the cost of plant care.

buying coffee

Which is the right coffee to use as a houseplant fertilizer?

Well, now that you know that you can use coffee grounds as a natural fertilizer for houseplants, it is crucial to also remember the fact that not all coffee grounds provide the same effect. You should not use flavored coffees and those with artificial ingredients on your houseplants. That’s because these brews may contain harmful chemicals that can be detrimental to the health of your plants.

You should always stick with coffee grounds extracted from plain coffee. It doesn’t really matter if they are decaffeinated or regular – both are fine. In addition, you can safely use coffee blends, which are made from different types of coffee beans. The bottom line is that you should avoid coffees that contain artificial additives.

It is also important to note that you should be using only spent coffee grounds, and not packet fresh, unbrewed coffee grounds for your plants. Fresh coffee grounds happen to be more acidic by nature and can alter the pH levels of the soil. Brewing actually brings down the acidic level of the coffee grounds.

coffee ph level

What are the problems with using coffee grounds for indoor plants?

While we have discussed some of the important ways you can use coffee grounds as fertilizer for your indoor plants, I believe it’s equally important to highlight the negative aspects. Given below are some of the problems with using coffee grounds on your indoor plants.

Excessive moisture retention

Coffee grounds are really good at retaining moisture. They are organic and the fine particles present in them act like a sponge that holds onto the moisture in the soil. This can be considered a major negative because overwatering is the most common problem when it comes to caring for houseplants.

When you add coffee grounds to the soil, you are significantly increasing the risk of overwatering your plants, and this is nothing short of a disaster for your plants. As you use coffee grounds on your plants, you can alter the composition of the soil, thereby reducing the risk of overwatering. Add more perlite or coarse sand to the potting mix. This tends to increase drainage, thereby allowing the soil to quickly dry out after watering, eventually trimming down the chances of overwatering and root rot.

Promotes Fungal Growth

When you add coffee grounds just to the surface of the soil, you are providing a perfect breeding ground for fungi, and this can result in your plants being affected by fungal disease.

You can avoid this problem by working the coffee grounds well into the soil. You can reduce the risk of fungal growth by repotting your houseplants with coffee grounds or using coffee grounds compost.

Attracts Pests

It is true that a few pests may be deterred when you use coffee grounds. However, coffee grounds in the soil create an environment that actually attracts some pests and insects. Yet again, this aspect highlights the fact that it is not recommended to add coffee grounds to the soil surface. By far, the best option is to use coffee grounds and make compost if you wish to use them to fertilize your indoor plants.

fungal growth because of coffee


I’m sure you have clearly understood the various aspects regarding the use of coffee grounds for your houseplants. Let me do a short recap of the important points discussed:

  • You can use coffee grounds for your houseplants in the form of compost, liquid coffee houseplant fertilizer, or by mixing them into the potting mix when repotting.
  • The benefits of using coffee grounds include easy availability, nutrient-dense organic fertilizer, cost-effectiveness, and their eco-friendly nature.
  • Certain negative aspects you should consider when using coffee grounds for your houseplants are that they retain moisture, attract pests, and promote fungal growth.
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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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