Coffee Grounds – Wonderful Organic Garden Fertilizer

Don’t Throw Away Used Coffee Grounds —
Put Them to Use in Your Garden

If you’re looking for an organic, totally eco-friendly fertilizer for your garden plants, then give used coffee grounds a try. Used coffee grounds are slightly acidic and full of beneficial nitrogen, a mineral that aids vegetable and plant growth. Coffee grounds are especially good to use on your tomato plants and pepper plants, which really thrive on nitrogen.

coffee groundsIn addition, coffee grounds, will create a natural acidic form of bacteria in your garden soil which boosts the growth of not just your tomatoes and pepper plants, but also other acid-loving plants like roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, blueberries and even evergreens.

For use as fertilizer, you can simply incorporate some of the grounds into the soil, gently working them in around and near the base of the plant. But my maternal grandmother, who used them on her (gorgeous every year, may I add!) rhododendrons just sprinkled the grounds around the plant’s base. I’d opt to work them into the soil a little — you can even use your hands to do this, or use a garden trowel.

Used Coffee Grounds Can Be Utilized “As Is” As Compost

I write about using coffee grounds as a great compost and also as an ingredient in your compost pile or bin in my eBook The Shoestring Gardener. Briefly, adding in those used grounds to your garden soil not only increases the nutritional value, but also betters the texture and fertility of the soil and aids in attracting earthworms. Earthworms are so helpful in helping to keep our garden soil more loose and better able to absorb water and oxygen down at the root level.

The Benefits of Using an Organic Fertilizer vs. a Synthetic One

Not only are you using something organic if you opt to give coffee grounds a try, you are recycling too! Instead of those grounds going down the garbage disposal or into your trash, you’re recycling them into your garden soil. But on top of this, you’re helping the environment in a number of ways:

  • Are you aware that synthetic fertilizers, such as Miracle-Gro®, contain ammonium phosphate and several other chemicals that can be toxic to your soil and plants? So, you’re not adding anything toxic into your soil.
  • Synthetic fertilizers are prohibited from use in certified-organic farming. So, you’re maintaining an organic growing environment.
  • Over application of a synthetic fertilizer will kill the friendly soil-microbes that need to exist in your garden soil. So, you’re encouraging healthy soil, not killing off the natural beneficial Mother nature intended to be in our soil.
  • And finally, you’re not contributing to environmental pollution. You’re not buying a product that had to be manufactured (possible air pollution issues), packaged (manufacturing of containers, outer packages, etc. which might mean more possible air pollution), and then transported (fuel use; even more possible air pollution) to the store. You get the idea.

So, think about using coffee grounds as a wonderful organic fertilizer instead of a synthetic one. If you’re not a coffee drinker, just check out a local coffee shop — most are happy to give away their used grounds, and many (Starbuck’s being one) have a special can in their store where they place their used coffee grounds so eco-conscious gardeners can come and take them home.


  1. Paula Smith says:

    I love coffee and my plants love the grounds!

  2. Kim Dushinski says:

    Thanks! What a great tip. I have a rhododendron that is not doing well. I am going to give this tip a try today.

  3. Ewan Peat says:

    Good to see you back again, hope all is well.

    L & L

  4. I have used coffee grounds for changing the color of my hydrangeas and sprinkle them around my blueberry bushes, but I did not realize tomatoes, peppers, and other plants would benefit, too. Thank you for this article!!!

  5. John Nelson says:

    Glad you’re back, missed you. God bless and keep you well.

  6. Victoria London says:

    Thanks eventho I have a compost bed, I have to admit I’ve not been using my coffee grounds. NO MORE! When cleaning my gutters this spring I found hundreds of earth worm that’s what prompted me to start my worm bed/compost. I’m getting great compost. Thanks

  7. Thank you, for all the tips and tricks!!

  8. Shonna McLeod says:

    What a great tip – I will be having everyone I know save coffee grounds for me from now on.

  9. Have you ever heard of someone sprinkling the grounds on those somewhat yellow spots that appear in the lawn? We don’t have pets so I know it isn’t from urine, just “old” soil. I may just try this, I bet I’d enjoy those hazelnut coffee grounds the best, LOL

  10. All my coffee and tea grains go into my composter. Before I had the composter, they went into the garden. And before that, I raised redworms and the only soil they had was my daily coffee and tea grains. They loved it. Also, I have started pouring my left over coffee in.

  11. Claudia says:

    Hi Kim:

    Yes! Do try grounds on your rhododendron! Honest to goodness, my grandma’s rhod’s were awesome – and she lived in Michigan, so it’s not like they had the “ideal” climate to be living in. They were always loaded with huge blooms. I don’t remember how often she went out and dumped her used grounds from the morning’s coffee on them, but I’ll wager it was more often than not! Good luck. 🙂

  12. Claudia says:

    Thanks for taking the time to leave me your thoughts, Ewan! Yes – all is getting MUCH better day-by-day.

  13. Claudia says:

    Hi Shawna:

    Oh yes – most other plants will benefit, and if nothing else, your SOIL will be getting a wonderful amendment. The earthworms absolutely love the coffee grounds. And you’re repurposing something you’d have otherwise thrown away.

  14. Claudia says:

    Gee, thank you John for your kind words. I plan to be running on high octane pretty soon, so keep your eyes peeled for lot of new and exciting things going on here!

    And … blessings to you, too. 🙂

  15. Donna Ingram says:

    I have heard that tea leafs will do the same…do you agree?

  16. Claudia says:


    Oh YEAH!! Those earthworms LOVE those grounds! When I was building up a pretty large compost bed one fall for my garden, I was driving to the local Starbuck’s every night for about a week straight to get all their used grounds. I had bags that were probably around 40lbs (just guessing, but they were really heavy!!). I also kept one of those huge bags near my compost bin so I could add in the grounds along with all the other good stuff I was throwing in.

  17. Claudia says:

    My pleasure Adita – glad you find my information of value. 🙂

  18. Claudia says:

    No Luann, I haven’t heard of that but hey … it’s sure worth a try! Nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’d suggest you incorporate the grounds with some soil if you can. Good luck!

  19. Claudia says:

    Yup! The worms LOVE coffee grounds! Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with your worms – it just helps to reassure other folks that I’m not just making this all up! 🙂

  20. Claudia says:

    Shonna: Great idea! But once they catch on to what you’re doing with those grounds, and hopefully your garden will start looking better because of your addition of those grounds … well, your friends might get stingy and keep theirs for THEIR gardens! LOL

    But that’s OK … let’s teach other people how to easily and organically improve their gardens. 😉

  21. It´s the same if I use “borra of coffe”. I obtein when I prepar coffe? sorry my English is very bad. emy

  22. Hola Emy!

    Yes – “borra de café” are coffee grounds – what is leftover after you prepare your coffee. Lo que es el sobrante después de preparación del café. (I hope this is good Spanish – I used the online Babylon translation tool 🙂 )

    No apologies necessary for your English.

  23. Would it be ok to sprinkle coffee grounds on my anemic looking lawn?

  24. Claudia says:

    Hi Greg:

    Sure – can’t hurt and will probably help. However, I doubt it will be a “miracle” to green it up. You should look into organic lawn fertilizers, or could try spraying it with an Epsom salt and water solution. I have used Epson salts (you can find it cheaply in stores like Wal-Mart) for many years to “green up” garden plants that aren’t looking green enough.

    Boy, did my musa basjoo (banana) plants love it! My brugmansias, too. They got so much greener and lush when I would give them a weekly soaking of 2 or more tablespoons of Epsom salts mixed with a gallon of water. I now routinely use it on all potted and garden plants, in addition to my organic fertilizer.

    Read the back of the Epsom salt bag or container – most have instructions on how to use it for plants or gardens. You can also use it to take a bath to soak in to relieve sore or stiff muscles! 🙂

    I do provide information about a great organic lawn fertilizer in my newest eBook: The Shoestring Gardener. There is lots of other information on all sorts of topics – just look over the sales page and you might want to get yourself a copy.

    Good luck!

  25. We´ve been doing this for years. Nothing new and it works great.

  26. store bought orange seed seedlings turned to sweet fruit producers, started in coffee grounds…

  27. I have the Tribute strawberries planted in windowbox style planters. They bear fruit all summer long. Was wondering if I could use the coffee grounds on them? They are perennials so I don’t replant each year. Tasty sweet small berries galore!!!

  28. Italics Mine says:

    I brought this article to the attention of my partner and he said “we live in New England. There are plenty of pine trees in this yard to give all the acidity the rhododendrons need.” Maybe he’s right because they do look fine. I just hate throwing the coffee grounds in the rubbish when they might have more recyclable value.

  29. mothman777 says:

    Ericaceous, or lime-loving plants like rhododendrons love chunks of limestone near the roots, and crushed oyster shells.

  30. Claudia,
    So glad your heart is healing. Now you can help our gardens heal too. I’ll start saving coffee grounds at 4:30am tomorrow.

  31. Claudia says:

    Chris – maybe it’s not “new” info to you, but as you can see by the many comments, lots of people weren’t aware of using coffee grounds. Glad to hear that grounds are beneficial for your garden.

  32. Claudia says:


  33. Claudia says:

    Hi Linder:

    Absolutely! Gently mix in some grounds into the soil. Enjoy your strawberries. 🙂

  34. Claudia says:


    As I stated in the article, coffee grounds as can act as a great soil amendment too, and many people use grounds for that reason versus adding an acidity boost to the soil’s pH. What do you have to lose by putting some grounds around your plants? Or work some into ALL your garden soil. I can assure you that almost all plants benefit from the grounds. Keep an eye on your plants – don’t overdo your use of the grounds since you do have pine trees.

  35. Claudia says:

    Great tip – thanks!

  36. Claudia says:

    Thank you Martie for those very kind words. 🙂

    Yes! Enjoy your morning coffee and then save those grounds. If you’re composting with them, remember that the paper coffee filters are compostable, too.

  37. Claudia says:

    Hi Donna:

    Yes, you can distribute used tea leaves around the base of acid loving plants, such as tomatoes and roses. Tea leaves are said to contain all the big three nutrients, N-P-K, as well as some trace minerals, though I don’t know the “strength level” of those nutrients since the leaves have been steeped in hot water. As with the coffee grounds, just sprinkle them on the soil and then gently incorporate them into the soil. Of course, you can also add those tea leaves to your compost pile. Thanks for asking about this.

  38. I was using grounds from a coffee shop on my hydrangeas, and must have overdone it; my favorite did not survive. I guess I’d rather have them pink than burned. I’m thinking that using them in compost is better than directly on the plant soil.

  39. Claudia says:

    Yes, could be just too much was used, like you said. Even using grounds in compost piles, you go have to make sure the green to brown ratios are balanced. Too many grounds in compost can make it funky, too.

    I have a very large chapter on all the ins and outs of composting, along with many other related pieces of info that should make anyone a real composting pro in my newest eBook The Shoestring Gardener. Please check it out.

  40. I love coffee and plants love the grounds!There are plenty of pine trees in this yard to give all the acidity the rhododendrons need.” Maybe he’s right because they do look fine.

  41. chris lowe says:

    this is my first time reading this i like it first time hearing about coffee ground in a plant

  42. chris lowe says:

    i like this page i well b back again thank u for let me not thro the coffe out anymore i well b useing them


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  3. Fred G. says:

    Interesting information, Claudia. I am going to start saving my used grounds and see about amending my soil as you have suggested. Thanks for your great posts. I learn a lot.

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