Can You Use Coffee for Snake Plant Fertilizer?
Leftover coffee grinds can have a range of benefits for some plants, including snake plants. We find out how to (and how NOT to) use coffee to boost your snake plant’s health and growth.
- Coffee is an excellent fertilizer supplement for plants that thrive in an acidic soil environment.
- Adding untreated coffee to soil is not adequate. Instead, use specific methods for incorporating used coffee grounds into your soil.
- Repurposing used coffee grounds is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and waste.
Regular readers of Garden Bench Top will know that reducing waste and our environmental impact is our top priority.
So we jump at the opportunity whenever we can reuse and repurpose waste like used coffee grounds and filters.
This article explores how we combine our passion for repurposing with our love of snake plants to achieve a win-win for everyone involved.
Not only that, we will detail some of the mistakes we’ve made along our gardening journey, so you can benefit and avoid making those errors for yourself.
So grab a cup of coffee, and let’s begin – just don’t bin the used coffee!
Is Coffee Beneficial for Snake Plants?
To answer this question, we first need to understand coffee’s effect on the soil.
As a natural organic matter, coffee grounds are perfectly suitable to be used as a supplement in soil.
The organic nature provides a food source for the soil’s microfauna to consume and break down. As the used coffee grounds are consumed, they release essential nutrients into the soil, such as Nitrogen and potassium. Which forms part of the minerals snake plants require to grow and thrive.
Simply adding freshly used coffee grounds directly to the potting soil is not ideal. It significantly delays the decomposition process and can encourage other nasty side effects. We’ll explore this in more detail later in the article.
Not only do they boost essential nutrients, but coffee can also help to maintain the stability of the pH in the soil. A study by Oregon State University found that the coffee content in the used grounds is mildly acidic, helping to stabilize the acidity levels in the soil between 6.5-6.8 pH.
And can you guess what pH levels snake plants thrive in?
While snake plants are not highly particular about the soil’s pH levels, they are known to thrive in slightly acidic soils or just under the neutral zone.
It’s like coffee grounds, and snake plants are the perfect match.
Adding Coffee to Snake Plants – Mistakes to Avoid
We admit, along our gardening journey, we’ve made many mistakes. And we are proud of it – after all, mistakes are how we become wiser!
The benefit of making mistakes is that we can share our experiences and form a collective knowledge bank for the best gardening techniques.
With that in mind, here are our top mistakes to avoid when using coffee for snake plants.
1. Adding Used Coffee Grounds Directly to Top Soil
One of the earliest mistakes we made with coffee was just throwing mounds of it directly onto the topsoil of our snake plants.
As soon as we read coffee is suitable for plants, we naively started sprinkling it around the garden like coffee fairies!
Unfortunately, we jumped the gun and didn’t realize this method was ineffective and prolonged the process significantly. Moreover, because it takes so long to break down, it often attracts unwanted side effects like mold growth and insects like fungus gnats.
After some research (and embarrassment), we realized unprocessed used coffee grounds take a long time to decompose, even with live microfauna in the ground soil.
We quickly realized the best way to apply coffee to snake plants is to add the grounds to the compost or worm farms. The heat from the composting process accelerates the decomposing process of the coffee and releases all the beneficial nutrients into the composted soil.
Once decomposed, you can add compost to your snake plants.
2. Don’t Overdose Your Snake Plants
That age-old saying too much of a good thing applies when adding coffee to your soil as fertilizer.
If your soil is already supplemented with a high-nitrogen fertilizer, adding coffee grounds to the soil can potentially put the balance of your soil over the edge. Unfortunately, too much Nitrogen can lead to an overdose in your snake plants, resulting in stunted growth.
So before you go around sprinkling coffee fairy dust around your garden, think back to the last time you added fertilizer to your snake plants and ask yourself – do my snake plants need more Nitrogen?
3. Look Out for Sensitive Plants
Generally speaking, houseplants are solitary plants that are confined to their containers or pots. However, we occasionally like to break the mold and throw a couple of plants together in one pot to form a mini oasis of plants.
We love to include snake plants in the mix because they are hardy easy-going plants that can tolerate various conditions.
However, this becomes challenging when using coffee for snake plant fertilizer. Because as we discussed earlier, snake plants love slightly acidic soil and coffee adds that acidic kick when used as a fertilizer.
But this doesn’t apply to all plants – especially the companion plants we plant in the same pot.
One of our biggest mistakes was failing to recognize this fact, and we accidentally poisoned one of our Aloe Vera plants (which prefers an alkaline soil).
Coffee for Snake Plants – Frequently Asked Questions
Now you know why coffee can be a good supplement for snake plants. And you also know some of the mistakes to avoid when using spent coffee grounds for snake plants.
Let’s now turn our attention to those commonly asked questions.
How Much Coffee Should I Add to Snake Plants?
The answer to this question will depend on your soil’s composition (before adding the coffee grounds). As we mentioned, if your soil is already fertilized with an appropriate amount of Nitrogen, adding coffee grounds could do more harm than good.
You may also want to consider the loam qualities of your soil. The ideal soil for snake plants is well-draining soil with a loam consistency. Adding too many organic materials will change the properties of the soil, leading to too much moisture being retained in the soil. This may lead to problems such as snake plant root rot or other fungal diseases.
You may also want to test the pH levels of your soil BEFORE adding coffee grounds. Snake plants are tolerant of a range of conditions. However, soil can become too acidic, leading to issues with the root system and causing burning to your snake plant.
How Should I Add Composted Coffee Grounds to Snake Plants?
The easiest and most effective method for adding coffee to snake plants is to mix the composted grounds into the potting mix while repotting your snake plant.
Adding the coffee during this process allows you to control the consistency of the soil, ensuring it has the ideal drainage and enough organic materials to supply essential nutrients for growth.
How Can I Make Coffee Liquid Fertilizer?
An alternative method of using coffee grounds as a fertilizer is in liquid form. In this technique, the goal is to make a brew of weak coffee from the spent grounds. You then apply the mixture to your garden like any other liquid fertilizer.
The process for making the liquid coffee fertilizer is as follows:
- bring a container full of water to the boil
- add in your spent coffee grounds (and used filter) to the boiling water
- allow the coffee grounds and used filter to steep for a few days
- strain out the grounds and filter, and the remaining diluted coffee can be applied to your garden.