Using Coffee Grounds on Succulents: What it actually does


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Using coffee grounds on succulents is beneficial both for growth and development. It will also help to enhance the richness of the soil. 

Coffee ground when added to succulent soil increases both drainage and aeration. It also increases the organic matter in the soil which boosts the nitrogen availability while providing the succulent with nutrients and minerals for healthy growth. 

Coffee grounds will enhance the production of nitrogen, an essential component for the growth of the plant.

There are some more things to consider when using coffee grounds on succulents like type, quantity, brewed or unbrewed which we will discuss further in this article. 

What Do Coffee Grounds Contain?

Coffee Grounds for Succulents

Coffee grounds generally contain many of the essential components that are beneficial for the growth of succulents. 

Coffee grounds contain approximately:

  • 2% nitrogen (N)
  • 0.6% potassium (K)
  • 0.06% phosphorus (P)

On the mineral level, there is a trace amount of:

  • Calcium (Ca)
  • Magnesium (Mg)
  • Boron (B)
  • Iron (Fe)
  • Zinc (Zn)

Depending on the part of the world the grounds came from, the mineral mix will be different. 

However, they will still follow approximately the same amount of macronutrients (NPK). 

These nutrients are all responsible for the normal growth and functioning of plants and succulents are no different. 

The Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds on Succulents:

Using coffee grounds for succulents

Improves Soil Quality: Adds Nitrogen (N)

Use of the coffee grounds on succulents will help you to enhance the quality of the soil by enhancing the ratio of nitrogen (N). 

Nitrogen is considered the single most significant factor limiting plant growth. It is responsible for producing chlorophyll. 

Chlorophyll is extremely important to absorb light for the process of photosynthesis. 

By adding coffee grounds to the soil, you can encourage more chlorophyll growth and photosynthesis. 

Additionally, the presence of other components in the coffee grounds also increases the prolificacy of the soil.

Soil Drainage:

The use of the coffee grounds would enhance the soil drainage capacity. 

The coffee grounds can enhance the production of the microbes and would also increase the richness of the soil that may also increase the drainage capacity of the soil. 

Soil Aeration:

The use of the coffee grounds on the succulents would enhance the gas exchanging capability of the soil winch is commonly called soil aeration. 

So due to the soil aeration, the plant would easily get the required gaseous form. 

So in this way, soil aeration would increase the plant’s activities as well as the growth of the plant body.      

Soil pH:

Mainly coffee grounds have a neutral pH of 7.0. 

But in some rare cases, coffee grounds can cause a hindrance in the PH of the soil so it would result in the lowering of the pH of the soil. 

This is mainly associated with unbrewed coffee which can actually recycle the pH of the soil. 

The lower pH can be effective for plants that like acidic soil. 

But overall used coffee grounds commonly maintain a fairly constant pH level of the soil for succulents. 

To test the moisture and pH of the soil you can use the cost-effective Trazon Soil 3-in-1 Meter. It not only tests for pH but also moisture content and light intensity. You can find it by clicking here!

Trazon Soil pH Meter 3-in-1 Soil Tester Moisture

Can Too Many Coffee Grounds Harm Succulents?

Yes, too many coffee grounds would hinder the maturing and germinating ability of the succulents. 

Succulents work well with fertilizers with low nitrogen content. 

Plants’ healthy development and proper functioning depend on a fine balance within the natural environment of soil. 

Mixing coffee grounds with the soil as fertilizer can increase the ratio of nitrogen in the soil if the nitrogen is already present in the soil in excess.

A very high ratio of nitrogen in the soil can result in nitrogen toxicity, nutrient lockout, leggy growth, root growth stunting, and increased soil mineral salts.

See our detailed article on mixing mulch into soil which gives a more detailed account of how mixing organic matter into the soil affects the availability of nitrogen for plants. 

Nitrogen Toxicity:

A pair of researchers, Sham S. Goyal and Ray C. Huffaker, from the University of California, highlighted the possible toxic effects of excessively high levels of nitrogen on plant growth in their research article

Nitrogen toxicity can result either from a particular form of nitrogen or from a very high ratio of nitrogen in the soil. 

Nitrogen can affect plants in more than one way, especially succulents. 

Continuous exposure to nitrogen during the initial stages of germination can significantly injure the early physiological development of plants.

Therefore, think twice before you add coffee grounds to your younger succulents that are in their developmental stages. 

Leggy Growth:

As we mentioned earlier in the article, nitrogen in coffee grounds can boost succulents’ growth. 

Adding coffee ground on succulents may increase the nitrogen ratio, resulting in your succulents pushing out lots of new growth too fast. 

Too much nitrogen will disrupt the natural growth pattern of succulents and make them go leggy (etiolation). 

Leggy growth in succulents can also be caused by sunlight. When your succulents do not get enough sunlight, they start growing leggy in search of sunlight. 

Our article on what causes a leggy monstera will give a more detailed account related deeply to how light affects plants. 

Therefore, if you see your succulents growing leggy, check the nitrogen ratio in the fertilizer and place them in the indirect bright sunlight. 

There are fertilizers specially made for succulents with low content of nitrogen. We have found that the miracle gro succulent plant food from amazon works great and is really cheap. You can find it by clicking here.

I always use Professional Growers Potting Soil Mix when repotting my succulents. I know when I repot using this cost-effective soil that my plants will survive. You can find it by clicking here.

Succulent and Cactus Potting Soil Mix

Using Brewed and Unbrewed Coffee Grounds:

Both brewed and unbrewed coffee grounds can be used on succulents. Down below, we have briefly explained which way would be better than the other. 

Brewed Coffee Grounds:

The use of the brewed coffee ground is more beneficial for all species of succulents. Brewed coffee means on which hot water has been poured. 

It would maintain the neutralization of the soil. It may not be a cause of acidity in the soil of the plant. 

One of its main benefits is that it would be able to keep the pests or the bugs away from the succulent plant body. 

It would also hinder the activity of many of the insects that may harm the succulents.  

Unbrewed Coffee Grounds:

Unbrewed coffee grounds can also be used for many plants. But it is less advantageous as compared to that of the brewed coffee grounds. 

It is due to the reason that the unbrewed coffee grounds would not be able to neutralize the soil. 

What unbrewed coffee ground actually does is lowers the soil’s pH level creating an unfavorable environment for succulents.

How To Use Coffee Grounds on Succulents?

Use coffee grounds in the open soil in which the plant is planted. 

Do not use the coffee grounds for the succulent that are planted in the plant pots. As it would have the least effect. 

One thing you must have to remember while using coffee grounds is to not pour or use too many coffee grounds on the soil of the plant. 

As it may harm the plant than to preserve it from bugs or pests. 

Can Coffee Grounds Prevent Pests?

Yes, both the brewed and the unbrewed coffee grounds can play a great role in the control of pests or bugs. 

As in the case of the unbrewed coffee grounds, the low pH can cause the breakage or damage of the outer covering of the insects so that would be vulnerable and can easily collapse. 

So by using coffee grounds you can prevent your succulents from any of the environmental harm in the form of bugs, wasps, etc. so it would increase the healthy age of your plant body as well. 

Coffee grounds are used worldwide for the better propagation and nourishment of succulents. 

Keeping the considerations mentioned in this article should help you make better decisions when thinking of using coffee grounds on succulents. 

The Takeaway:

Coffee grounds, when added to succulents, can be beneficial as it adds macronutrients NPK to the soil. 

There are some pH considerations that should be taken into account when using unbrewed coffee grounds which can lower the pH of the soil if you are not careful. 

The end result is that using coffee grounds can in fact boost the overall health of succulents when used correctly. 

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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