The grocery aisle is packed with bags of succulents and cactus mixes. Some are aimed at beginners, while others include cactus soil and other essentials.
However, can you water the succulent mix? Can you water the cactus with coffee? Should you water succulent plants?
Well, there is actually a simple answer to both questions. Yes, you can water succulent plants. And you can water the cactus with coffee.
Are you wondering if the leftover coffee on your kitchen counter is good for your succulents? It’s a reasonable concern, especially considering how coffee water and coffee grounds have proven to have quite a few benefits for plants in general.
In fact, many people recycle their leftover coffee grounds by using them in their homemade compost as well.
However, we know that succulents and cacti are a bit special in this regard. Regular care practices that help other plants thrive often make cacti go soft or die.
Therefore, it’s okay to be concerned about using coffee for your precious succulent garden. Let’s find out if coffee works for your spiky, spiny babies.
Can I Use Leftover Coffee To Water Cactus Plants And Succulents?
Yes, you can absolutely use leftover coffee to water your cacti and succulents.
The coffee water acts as a substitute for chemical fertilizer for your darling, potted succulents.
However, keep in mind that you need to use diluted coffee only for these plants.
The ideal ratio of water to coffee you should use is 3:2, where it’s three parts water and 2 parts coffee.
So if you have leftover coffee from this morning just sitting ducks in your kitchen, you would want to dilute it with a cup or two of water before you use it to water your succulents.
Make the mixture and slowly pour it into the soil. Do not add too much coffee water suddenly to the soil.
A great way to use any old coffee sitting in your kitchen cabinets is to water your succulents when the time arises.
Try not to use new, expensive fine roasts to water your plants since they will not offer any more benefits than old or cheap coffee would.
So you should be mindful of not wasting your fine, fresh roasts to water your plants!
Another way to use the benefits of coffee for your cacti and succulents is by using the coffee to make a liquid fertilizer or a concoction of compost, which you can then use to introduce nutrients to the soil.
Keep in mind that all plants are different, and this definitely applies to cacti as well.
Before you make it a habit to water your cactus with coffee water when the time arises, you should first test the coffee water out on the succulents to ensure no adverse effects on the plant.
Only when you are sure that the coffee is a good addition to your succulents should you make it a habit to water them with the coffee.
Other than that, to make sure that the cacti do not get concentrated with caffeine in their fleshy stems, you should alternate between coffee water and normal water as well.
Can We Use Coffee Grounds On Succulents?
The simple answer is yes; you can very well use coffee grounds for your succulence.
Experienced succulent growers have ensured that coffee grounds offer great results for many cacti and succulents.
Coffee grounds are full of nutrients and are entirely organic, which will be much better for your plants than chemical-based fertilizer too.
Keep in mind that coffee grounds work best for succulents that are planted in your garden and are not effective on potted succulents.
This is because the coffee grounds are ineffective on potted plants and function mainly in the garden soil.
Also, remember only to use black coffee grounds as fertilizer in your succulents. Try to rinse the grounds thoroughly to ensure the caffeine content remaining in them is not too high and affects the plants adversely.
Similarly, do not use unbrewed coffee grounds for your succulents.
Unbrewed coffee grounds have a very high caffeine content which can shift the pH of the soil and create suboptimal conditions for the growth of your cactus.
While coffee grounds are an excellent substance to add to fertilizer, you need to remember that strong concentrations of caffeine are actually harmful to your succulents instead of being useful.
Even if you are using black, used grounds for the soil of your succulents, you need to remember only to use coffee grounds in moderation.
Try to add about two teaspoons of coffee grounds to your succulent garden every two weeks and no more than that. Slowly add water to the grounds to make it easier for the nutrients to reach the cactus.
This is also true for liquid fertilizer made with coffee grounds. As you know, succulents do not need to be watered as often as other plants do.
Therefore, stick to your regular watering schedule and introduce coffee into the mix every now and then.
Coffee should be used as fertilizer only when there is inadequate nitrogen in the soil. If you have already used a nitrogen-based fertilizer in the soil of the succulent, the coffee grounds might be too much for the plant.
Coffee grounds also make it easier for the water to drain from the soil.
As we know, succulents and cacti are in danger of being over-watered if there is not adequate drainage of water from the soil.
The coffee grounds help add texture to the soil, making it easy for the water to drain from the soil.
Do Coffee Grounds Replace Fertilizer In Cacti?
Coffee grounds on their own do not replace the fertilizer you need for a cactus. Instead, these coffee grounds add further nutrients and minerals to the fertilizer you are already using to make your plants grow even healthier.
This is because used coffee grounds simply do not have enough concentration of nitrogen in them to be classified as effective for the growth of plants, including succulents.
When you want to add coffee grounds to your succulents, you should not take the used grounds and add them to the base of the plant without any other soil or fertilizer.
The coffee grounds can only act as topsoil when there is already fertilizer-rich soil underneath the grounds.
Alternatively, you can also mix the coffee grounds with the compost to make a compost tea for enriching the succulents with many nutrients and essential substances.
The coffee grounds will then be a part of the fertilizer mixture. Even so, they’ll not be able to replace the fertilizer that your succulents and cacti need.
Coffee Grounds vs. Coffee Water
Naturally, the question that arises now is whether coffee grounds are better than coffee water for your succulents.
The simple answer is that neither is better than the other. Both coffee grounds and coffee water have their own benefits that can help to enrich the succulents in your garden.
Firstly, coffee grounds do not work on potted succulents. They will be ineffective and, if added in high concentrations, may damage the plant.
These grounds should only be added to garden soil to enhance its nutrient content. On the other hand, diluted coffee water works well for both potted plants and garden soil.
As long as it’s diluted, it will likely not damage the plants in the garden either.
Secondly, coffee grounds on their own will take a while to absorb into the cactus. They will have to utilize the moisture content that is already present in the soil to help the cactus absorb nutrients from the grounds.
On the other hand, coffee water is a solution and, therefore, can be absorbed by the cactus quickly.
The quick absorption is not necessarily an advantage since it can be useful at times, but cacti and succulents do not need as much water and nutrition as other plants.
Therefore, the solution can be entirely too much caffeine for the plant. The slow absorbing mechanism with the coffee grounds may actually prove to be more useful since the cactus can get a slow and steady supply of nutrients over a long time.
Furthermore, coffee grounds are not acidic, and their pH value is almost neutral.
Coffee becomes acidic when mixed with water therefore unbrewed grounds and coffee water is more acidic than used coffee grounds.
There is a higher chance of the pH value of the soil decreasing if you use coffee water than if you use used grounds.
Is It True That Coffee Can Heal A Cactus?
While we have established that coffee water and coffee grounds have benefits for succulents, we need to debunk any myths about using coffee on your cactus. One of these myths includes the mystical healing powers of coffee.
Yes, coffee grounds are rich in nutrients and can help your succulents grow tall and healthy. They can be added to compost and fertilizer to enhance the level of nutrition that your plants are getting.
And in this regard, the coffee grounds can help to revitalize a cactus that is beginning to go soft or under-watered and under-nourished.
Coffee grounds are a rich source of nutrients like nitrogen and magnesium, which can help the cactus gain enough nutrition to be able to heal itself and grow.
However, you cannot use coffee grounds and coffee water as a mystical elixir for your cactus that will cure every ailment the plant goes through.
The coffee grounds can only help your cactus to a certain extent, but you have to make sure you are doing your best for the plant and taking ample care of it to ensure that it grows to be a healthy plant.
You need to water it just enough, make sure you are not going overboard with the coffee grounds, and help to trim and prune the plant as the need arises.
Does Coffee Kill Cactus?
Coffee absolutely has many benefits for cacti and other succulents. However, it is only fair to ask if coffee can actually be dangerous for cacti? Is there a chance that the use of coffee on our beloved plants may actually kill them?
Coffee is high in caffeine. There are high amounts of caffeine in coffee grounds that are unused and freshly roasted.
If these coffee grounds are used for succulents, they can throw the pH of the soil out of balance.
The absorption of too much caffeine can also dehydrate the plant and eventually kill the cactus.
This is why it is important only to use used coffee grounds and dilute coffee water just enough before using it.
Also, keep in mind to not use coffee grounds for potted plants. The pots are a constricted space and do not have enough soil and microbes to break down the coffee grounds effectively.
Other than that, the coffee grounds need to be broken down by microbes before they can be used effectively by the plant.
The potting soil used for most succulents does not have enough microbes to break down too many coffee grounds effectively.
If these grounds accumulate in the soil, not only can the excessive caffeine harm the plant, but the accumulation of these grounds can prevent the water in the soil from draining effectively as well.
This will cause overwatering of the plant, eventually making the cactus rot and die.
However, if you make sure to use the coffee in a diluted form and with moderation, it will be beneficial to the cacti instead and cause it to grow healthy and strong.
Beneficial Nutrients Present In Coffee
The reason why coffee grounds are so effective for succulents and all other plants is that they are full of nutrients.
The essential nutrients present in coffee grounds and water include potassium, nitrogen, and magnesium.
Coffee grounds contain 0.6% potassium, which is sufficient to enhance the effectiveness of the fertilizer that you add the coffee grounds to.
The potassium strengthens the immunity of the succulents and helps them fight any diseases.
On the other hand, they contain around 2% nitrogen. Cacti require less nitrogen than most other plants since the nitrogen is used to promote the healthy growth of leaves, and cacti have thin, modified leaves as their spines.
2% nitrogen is just enough to promote the healthy growth of a cactus without overdoing the nitrogen.
There is less than 2% magnesium present in coffee grounds, which helps the plant grow healthy.
Other than that, trace amounts of other minerals are also present in the coffee grounds, including phosphorus, calcium, boron, iron, zinc, and copper.
How To Compost Coffee Grounds
There are a few different ways with which you can compost your coffee grounds, and they depend on factors such as the size of your garden, how many coffee grounds you have for composting, and what your method for composting organic matter is.
The simplest way to compost coffee grounds is by adding the coffee grounds to the soil directly.
You can effectively use this method if you have a smaller garden or a few pots to take care of, and you brew a small amount of coffee just for yourself.
Spread your coffee grounds evenly on the surface of the soil and use your garden tools to mix the grounds with the soil thoroughly.
You can even cover the soil with leaves, composting mix, or mulch to make it more effective.
Make sure to mix the grounds with the soil thoroughly since a layer of coffee grounds on the surface would dry out and make it very difficult for water to seep through to the soil.
If you have a compost pile, you can add your coffee grounds to it to increase organic matter.
You can even balance out the coffee grounds by using shredded filter paper of your coffee as brown compost material as well. The filter paper is a reliable source of carbon for the plant.
Make sure that the coffee does not make for more than one-third of the composting mixture.
You can hit your local coffee shops or collect used coffee grounds over the span of a few days to use them in your garden!
Interestingly enough, you can also add your coffee grounds into your worm bin if you are using worms to make effective compost out of all the materials you have.
You will want to slowly add the coffee, bit by bit so that the worms are able to adjust to them before processing them effectively.
If you use a composting bin or a container to make compost over a few weeks, you can easily introduce your used coffee grounds to it.
Using Coffee vs. Tea For Succulents/Cacti
While we know most of everything there is to know about using coffee if your succulent garden, is there anything we should know about tea?
Yes, manure tea is a special kind of tea that comes in a tea bag that you can lightly add to your succulents from time to time to ensure they are getting all the necessary nutrients to help with their growth.
Manure tea bags can be used like any other tea by soaking the bags in water to create a solution with all the necessary nutrients that your succulents can use.
The tea does not stink either like manure usually does. You need to soak a bag for more than 24 hours in around 5 gallons of water to have a golden-brown liquid.
When the succulent is dry, and it’s time to water it again, you can simply use the manure tea instead of the tap water to rehydrate it.
The tea is very mind, so it will not affect your succulents. Make sure you do not use the tea to rehydrate your succulents all the time.
Now, is manure tea a better way to water your succulents than your coffee? Both the options are useful and help the plants grow strong and healthy, but which one does it better?
Since manure tea is specially made for supplying plants with nutrients and has a controlled amount of everything, it does seem to be more effective.
However, manure tea should be used even more infrequently than coffee since it can damage the integrity of your plants by over-nourishing them as well.
Diluted coffee can be used slightly more often – at least once in two weeks – and simply replenish any of the nutrients that the plant in that duration has lost.
Therefore, both coffee and manure tea are excellent for the healthy growth of your succulents, but they need to be used in different ways to be effective for the plant as well.
Advantages Of Using Coffee Grounds For Cacti
There are many benefits of using coffee grounds for your cactus to make it grow tall, fleshy, and healthy. Some of these benefits include the following:
Help Attract Microbes
Coffee grounds are organic matter that can help introduce helpful bacteria and other organisms into the soil. The coffee’s nitrogen helps keep the microbes in the soil alive while also attracting new ones into the mix.
Make sure you mix the coffee grounds with nitrogen-rich substances to increase their nitrogen content as well.
Makes The Soil Nutrient-Rich
Coffee grounds are a good source of potassium, nitrogen, magnesium, phosphorus, and even other trace elements like copper, iron, and boron.
The addition of these substances to your cactus’s soil mixture will help improve its overall quality.
Keeps Pests Away
Slug, snails, and some other pests are naturally deterred by coffee. Therefore, the addition of coffee grounds or coffee water in the soil will prevent these pests from coming near your cactus.
Coffee even helps to deter other insects from contaminating the soil because of its bitter taste. Since coffee is organic, it essentially acts as an effective pesticide without being too chemical-heavy.
Helps The Plant Fight Diseases
Lastly, coffee can help in making the plant immune as well. The coffee can prevent the roots of the cactus from rotting and can also prevent attacks from fungi and other natural pests that can make the cactus go soft and die.
Coffee water can be used to water your succulents and cacti. Coffee grounds can also be added to the soil of the cactus to improve its quality and act as a fertilizer for the plant.
Coffee is a great addition to most succulent gardens because of its nutrient-rich properties.