Did you know you can use coffee grounds to fertilize your plants? It's easy, free, and it's green! Coffee grounds contain nitrogen, an element that helps plants to grow. You want to make sure, however, that you don't apply too much too often. For best results, first compost the coffee grounds.
Used coffee grounds contain about 2% nitrogen, a major plant nutrient. However, using them directly on plants can create a soil environment that is too concentrated, which may stunt the growth of the plant. In addition, the presence of the grounds may act as a barrier, preventing good drainage. To prevent this, you can either mix them into your soil or, preferably, compost them prior to use.
To compost your coffee grounds, add them to your compost. The grounds need the help of microorganisms found in a composting pile to break down the nitrogen into a format readily usable to the plant. In the compost, you will want one part coffee ground to one part green material to one part brown material. Green material refers to vegetable remnants, grass clippings, and the like. Brown material is dry leaves and other dry material. Both coffee filters and tea bags break down rather quickly in a compost pile, so not only are you making compost to keep your plants happy, you are breaking down what would otherwise be garbage.
If you are unable to build a compost pile, consider purchasing an indoor composting system. They are tidy and efficient, and some cities give rebates for purchasing the product because it reduces waste. Alternative to composting, you can dilute your coffee grounds with water before applying to your plants. Use a half pound of wet grounds per five gallon bucket. Or you can sprinkle them on the surface of the soil and water in for a slow-release nitrogen application. Warning signs that a plant is receiving too much nitrogen are a darker, green coloration to the leaves. Excess nitrogen causes plants to grow more foliage, faster, but they are less strong.