This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
If you’re one of those people who brew their coffee in their indoor plant jungle, you’ve most definitely wondered if there’s some way you can use the leftover coffee grounds to your pothos’ benefit.
If used correctly, coffee can be a fantastic fertilizer for pothos. It boasts a high nitrogen content, but it also works to ward off pests. To use coffee grounds on your pothos, you either want to add them to your compost pile or turn it into a liquid fertilizer.
Like other plants, pothos will significantly benefit from coffee grounds’ properties. If used incorrectly, however, coffee grounds can have an adverse effect on your pothos. So let’s see how you can use coffee grounds to fertilize your pothos and things to be cautious of when using coffee on your plants.
The first question: Are coffee grounds good for pothos?
The answer: A resounding yes!
Coffee grounds are incredibly beneficial to pothos – if applied correctly.
The high amount of nitrogen coffee provides helps for chlorophyll health – i.e., it gives plants their green color and aids the process of photosynthesis.
One of the most common plant deficiencies is a lack of nitrogen, and it generally shows up as yellowing (chlorosis) in your pothos.
If you want to discover how nitrogen works to benefit plants in general, this post is a great read!
Other than providing a source of nitrogen, using coffee grounds on your pothos has an array of benefits if used correctly.
The benefits of using coffee on your pothos (or any plant for that matter!) include:
- Aids water drainage and water retention in your pothos’ soil.
- It acts as a natural and cheap pesticide.
- Increase soil fertility by adding minerals and nutrients.
- Acts as a humic component in the ground.
- Allows the soil to maintain optimal nitrogen concentration to benefit the pothos.
- It creates a more acidic soil environment.
- Wards off pets and other animals.
Pretty impressive if you consider that this started as your mandatory morning brew.
As mentioned above, coffee grounds have quite impressive qualities and can greatly benefit your pothos.
Here are more detailed reasons why you want to start using coffee grounds on your pothos:
Coffee provides acidic qualities when mixed into the soil.
Pothos prefers a soil pH of 6.1 – 6.5, which essentially means that it prefers slightly more acidic soil than a basic one.
If you’re into optimizing each of your plant’s soils, you can mix a few coffee grounds into a neutral or basic soil to make it more acidic.
One of the most common plant deficiencies is a lack of nitrogen.
While approximately 78% of the air we breathe is nitrogenous, plants can’t use this to their benefit.
The nitrogen has to be present in their soil — this is most easily done by adding a nitrogen source to your pothos’ soil.
Fertilizer is generally the easiest way to add nitrogen to your plant.
Still, it can also have a few negative consequences due to the other chemical properties introduced in common store-bought fertilizers.
If, however, you’re using coffee as a primary source of nitrogen, you can easily bypass using any harmful or unknown chemicals on your plants.
You already know that coffee grounds add nitrogen to your pothos’ soil, but it doesn’t stop there.
Coffee grounds are also a great source of:
- Micronutrients (like trace amounts of sodium, manganese, riboflavin, and niacin)
The amount of nutrients available in coffee varies, but they can ultimately be used as a slow-release fertilizer in your pothos.
You can also add both fresh and used coffee grounds to provide nutrients to your soil to increase its fertility, which will aid pothos growth.
So, coffee grounds are a great way to add nutrients to your plant’s soil, but what are some of the other ways it can improve the quality of your soil?
Well, adding coffee grounds to your soil can:
- Increase drainage and aid in water retention.
- Aerate compacted soil.
- Increase soil fertility.
- Attract microbes and earthworms (although earthworms aren’t too likely to occur in pot plants).
- Protect the top layer of soil from unwanted pests and weeds.
Again, pretty cool to think that something engrained into your morning coffee routine can help your pothos to such a great extent.
There are some significant disadvantages for all the good it does if you don’t use the coffee grounds correctly.
Here are the reasons why people generally avoid using coffee grounds on their pothos:
- It retains moisture super well, which can cause waterlogged soil.
- Adding too many coffee grounds can cause the soil to become clay-like.
- It will create a rigid barrier when it dries out, which can hinder plant growth.
- It’s not suitable to propagate or grow young pothos in as adding too much can cause intolerable acidity.
- Excessive amounts of coffee grounds can kill off essential bacteria and microorganisms.
- When used in excess, it can cause fungal growth by creating an excessively moist environment.
- It makes too acidic soil.
All these problems can be fixed when you use the correct amount of coffee grounds in your pothos’ soil.
Let’s see how you can eliminate those disadvantages and let the coffee grounds work to your pothos’ benefit.
You generally want to add 10g of coffee grounds for every 100g of soil you have – 10% of your soil mix should be coffee grounds.
But adding coffee grounds to an already acidic soil can be detrimental to your pothos’ health.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way you can test your soil’s acidity (if you don’t want to go out and buy pH testers):
- To test for alkalinity – Place 2 tablespoons of soil in a bowl and add ½ cup vinegar. If the mixture fizzes, you have alkaline soil.
- To test for acidity – Place 2 tablespoons of soil in a bowl and moisten it with distilled water. Add ½ cup baking soda. If the mixture fizzes, you have acidic soil.
Extreme fizzing will mean that your soil is too acidic, and you can neutralize this effect by adding some limestone to your soil mix.
Continue testing the soil until it only fizzes mildly, and you have yourself a coffee-powered soil mix!
You want to use coffee grounds as a fertilizer as you would any other fertilizer. It’s best to fertilize your pothos using coffee every 2 to 3 months.
If you notice signs of pests on your pothos, you can also sprinkle a super fine layer of coffee grounds over your pothos’ soil – this will help to ward them off.
You definitely do not want to add coffee grounds or fertilize your pothos when it’s still in the sapling or propagation process – too much coffee can hinder germination and growth in young plants.
Both fresh and used coffee grounds will significantly benefit your pothos.
While fresh coffee grounds will provide more potent amounts of nutrients, used coffee grounds still have more than enough to keep your pothos happy.
And, you have the added benefit of reusing something that would otherwise be wasted.
Another question frequently asked by people is if you can pour leftover coffee on your pothos. If you didn’t add any milk, creamer, or sugar to it, then absolutely!
(Also, make sure it’s cooled down to room temperature before pouring it over the soil to prevent burning the roots!)
Just do not do it too frequently to avoid too acidic and soggy soil.
You can also check which other plants prefer more acidic soil and pour it over that.
There are a bunch of ways you can make the most of your used coffee grounds to benefit your pothos.
Let’s see all the ways you can use coffee grounds to benefit your pothos and the rest of your indoor plants.
If you’re interested in using your coffee in your compost pile, this section is for you.
To create a fruitful composting system, you want a balance between “green” and “brown” compostables.
“Green” compostables refer to nitrogen-rich materials like fruit peels, vegetable waste, and used coffee grounds that aid the microorganisms in their growth and reproduction.
“Brown” compostables refer to the carbon-rich materials like dried leaves, sticks, and pieces of scrap newspaper that feed and provide energy to these microorganisms.
If you’re mixing together “brown” and “green” compostables, you want to do so in a 4:1 ratio (4 parts carbon-rich materials to 1 part nitrogen-rich materials).
If you add too much “green” waste to your compost heap, it runs the risk of smelling bad, and if you add too much “brown,” your compost pile will heat up significantly.
The coffee grounds will have fully integrated into the compost heap in about 3 months, which will give your pothos a big boost when added to its potting soil.
If you’re adding used coffee grounds to your compost heap, you want to ensure that you turn the pile correctly.
Leaving the coffee grounds on the surface of the compost pile will allow them to dry out and create a barrier between new and old matter added to the pile.
If you’re not into traditional composting but instead find yourself in the world of vermicomposting with worms, you definitely want to give them your used coffee grounds.
For a small worm bin, you want to add around 1 cup of used coffee grounds per week (you can even add used paper coffee filters).
Adding too much can cause an acidic environment, so be careful not to add too much too fast.
You can also throw used coffee grounds into your bokashi bin alongside standard composting and vermicomposting.
If you’re not into composting or simply don’t have the space for it in your apartment, don’t fret!
You can mix your used coffee grounds with your standard mulch that you buy from your local garden center.
(Not sure why you should mulch your plants, even the indoor ones? Read this post to see why it can significantly benefit your plants.)
Alternatively, suppose you already have some leaf mold or compost lying around.
In that case, you can easily add the coffee grounds to promote a good soil structure by introducing variable particle sizes and other beneficial properties.
Again, just be careful not to coffee grounds to propagate or grow young pothos to avoid inhibited growth.
And finally, always make sure to spread out the mixture evenly to prevent coffee clumps from creating a barrier between the pothos’ soil and the water you’re giving it.
Adding used coffee grounds to your pothos’ soil will speed up the rate at which it grows due to the abundance of beneficial properties and fertile soil.
If you’re repotting or transplanting your pothos, you can add a handful (more precisely 10g of coffee grounds to every 100g of potting soil) of coffee grounds to promote soil fertility.
If you’re familiar with bokashi composting, you’ll know that you need to drain out “bokashi tea,” a potent liquid fertilizer that you can dilute into the water and give to your pothos.
But we’re back on the problem of ‘not everyone composts.’
So, how can you use your coffee grounds to achieve something similar to bokashi tea while avoiding composting altogether?
Well, you simply want to make a coffee ground tea.
To make this “tea,” you want to assemble the following (you don’t need all of these, but it’s an easy way to reuse food scraps):
- Banana peels
- Onion skins
- Used coffee grounds
Then, to make the ‘tea,’ you want o:
- Add these food scraps to a 5-gallon bucket.
- Fill the bucket with water.
- Let the food scraps steep in the water for 3 to 5 days.
- After 3 to 5 days, use the water mixture to water your pothos and other houseplants.
And that’s it!
If you only want to use coffee grounds, you can simply add them to the 5-gallon bucket and fill them with water.
You can also use either mixture to spray directly onto your plant leaves and stems as a foliar spray.
Using this homemade fertilizer is a great way to make the most of your food scraps and provide your pothos with all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to flourish.
The tea mixture is a simple way to improve your soil health and ward off unwanted diseases and pests.
The microorganisms and nutrients that have seeped into the water will also act as a general immune-boosting liquid to prevent root rot in your pothos.
If you’re scared that you’re using too strong a coffee ground tea, you can always start with small amounts and see how your pothos is responding to it.
If you’re seeing faster and greener growth, then you’re good to continue using the mix, but if you see the opposite, simply cut back on how much coffee you’re adding to the ‘tea’ before adding it the next time!
Coffee grounds contain certain compounds, like caffeine and diterpenes, that can be toxic to insects and bugs, making them a great way to repel them!
Generally, you’ll find that coffee is great at deterring mosquitos, fruit flies, and beetles – but if those bugs aren’t your big problem, you’ll find that it will probably prevent mealy bugs, spider mites, and even fungus gnats too!
Or, perhaps you have a dear pet that enjoys playing with your pothos’ long vines and wants to avoid any torn leaves.
To deter pests, pets, and insects, you can place small containers filled with coffee grounds around your pothos. You can also add a thin layer of used coffee grounds over your pothos’ soil.
And there you have it! The complete guide to using coffee grounds on your pothos and the rest of your indoor plants.
Coffee grounds are a super beneficial component to add to your plants because of their nutrients and their soil aerating and moisture-retaining properties.
If you’re using the right amount of coffee grounds in your plants, there’s little that can go wrong – especially if you’ve done all the tests to ensure that it’s not too acidic.
Overall, you can easily use coffee grounds to create a nitrogen-rich environment for your favorite pothos while also making something of the remnants of your morning cuppa.