Do Pothos Like Coffee Grounds? (And How to Use It)


Coffee ground for  pothos plant.

While taking care of your pothos, you are probably thinking of other ways to make it healthy and striving. You might have heard about coffee grounds helping its growth, but isn’t sure if it truly makes sense. 

Pothos like coffee grounds if your potting mix’s pH level is too high or alkaline. Coffee grounds are a good source of acid. So, it balances the pH level of the soil. What’s more, it contains nutrients and micronutrients, improves soil structure, moderates soil temperature, and produces humic substances. 

As you read on, you will learn the benefits of that product as a natural fertilizing agent. The science and fact behind coffee grounds will surprise you. 

Are Coffee Grounds Good for Pothos? 

The answer is yes, and no. The truth is, it depends on the situation. Coffee grounds help to increase the soil’s acidity.

That’s why it is ideal for soil with a higher pH level. However, that could be deadly to plants if the soil mixture has too much acidity in it already. 

How to Test the Soil’s Acidity 

The testing kit to know soil’s pH level is expensive and not readily available. If that is the case, I have researched a solution for that. 

  • Get soil samples from your potting mix. 
  • Prepare a container where you can place the soil, ½ cup of water, and ½ cup baking soda.
  • Place the soil in the container. 
  • Mix in ½ cup of baking soda. 
  • Study the reaction. 

When the mixture bubbles or fizzes, it’s a clear indication that your soil is acidic. Baking soda is an alkaline substance. That’s why acidic soil is reacting. 

But you don’t have to worry too much. Pothos can survive in acidic soil. It can even strive with the soil’s pH of 6.1 to 6.5.

However, if your mixture is already within that pH’s level, too much can kill your plant. 

Nonetheless, coffee grounds come with many benefits that will help the growth of your plant. 

How Much Coffee Grounds Should You Add to Your Pothos? 

When adding fertilizer to your plants, it is essential to be mindful of the soil’s volume. That is also true with coffee grounds. 

Adding too much coffee ground on the top of the soil can trap moisture, causing fungus growth or other plant diseases. 

That is why you need to put only an adequate amount—which is ½ inch or a thin layer of coffee grounds. Then cover the coffee ground with a 4-inch layer of mulch. 

Another way to use coffee grounds for your pothos soil mixture is adding it to compost pile first.

Since they produce a carbon-nitrogen ratio of 20-24:1, it is an excellent addition to your compost. 

Earthworms and other microorganisms can eat up all the coffee grounds quicker than other compost materials.

To make a balanced compost, you should only put 20 percent of coffee grounds into your compost pile. 

How Often Should I Put Coffee Grounds on My Pothos?

Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer

Use the coffee grounds as to how you use typical fertilizers. Do it once every 2 to 3 months. When it comes to liquid coffee, the ideal application is once every two to three weeks. 

Pest Control Measure 

You can use coffee grounds to control the pest. Sprinkle coffee grounds on the top of the soil as soon as you see the bugs coming out.  

Best Way to Use Coffee Ground on Pothos

The good thing about coffee grounds is that you can use it in varieties of ways. You can use it as a fertilizer, compost material, pest control measure, and more. 

Here are the best ways of applying coffee grounds on pothos: 

Composting with Coffee Grounds

There’s about 2% of nitrogen by volume present in coffee grounds. Nitrogen helps the compost to break down the materials faster. 

However, keep in mind that you need to add brown compost material to keep the compost balanced.

When it comes to a coffee filter, they decompose just fine. So, throw them in your compost without worries.

Coffee Grounds as Organic Fertilizer

Instead of buying chemical-based fertilizer for your pothos, use an organic fertilizer as an alternative.

If you love drinking and making coffee, you might have coffee residues you can use for your plants. 

Other coffee shops even give away these used coffee grounds for free. Ask one from your area to get free organic fertilizer. 

Coffee grounds add organic material to your soil. As a result, it improves soil drainage, aeration, and water retention. 

How to Use Coffee Grounds as Organic Fertilizer 

You can sprinkle the coffee grounds on the top of the soil. It is a slow-releasing fertilizer. So, you can expect your pothos at their own pace. 

Mix with Mulch

Using coffee grounds as a mulch has its advantages and disadvantages. Some gardeners agree on adding coffee grounds to compost.

However, they have a different opinion when it comes to putting them directly in the soil.

According to some researchers, caffeine harms the growth of the plant. Moreover, other seedlings have sensitivity to caffeine. 

What you need to avoid is to mulch coffee grounds on seeds or seedling. It inhibits the seedling’s growth, instead of making it strive

Using coffee grounds as a mulch is okay, as long as you add organic materials like leaf mold and compost. However, using coffee grounds alone can be detrimental. 

The reason behind this is that coffee grounds have very fine particles. Also, it adds moisture to the soil, causing your plant is prone to fungus and diseases. 

How to Use Coffee Grounds as Mulch 

Put a 1/2-inch layer of the coffee grounds onto the soil. Then, add a 4-inch layer of mulch. Use a rake to avoid them from clumping.

Another procedure is by mixing the coffee grounds with compost or other organic matter. Once done mixing, you can use it as mulch around the soil of your pothos. 

Add Coffee Grounds to The Potting Mix When Repotting

Coffee grounds are organic. Adding it to your pothos’ potting mix will increase your soil’s nutrients.

Just add 10 to 20 percent of coffee ground to the soil together with other organic matters. 

Coffee Grounds as Compost Tea

Another way of using coffee grounds as fertilizer is by creating a compost tea. In this way, you can use coffee grounds as liquid fertilizer, instead of sprinkling them onto the soil. 

How to Create a Compost Tea

You can use different ways to create compost tea. The easy way is by preparing 5 gallons of water and two cups of used coffee grounds. Mix them, and soak the tea overnight. 

Another technique of composting tea is by stuffing coffee grounds into the sock. Then, put it inside a bucket with five gallons of water, and let it steep for a few days. 

Water After Application

After applying the coffee grounds onto the soil, you might be wondering when is the best time to water your pothos.

This type of fertilizer is slow-release nitrogen and dry. That’s why it would be best to water your pothos within 48 hours of application.  

When watering, make sure that the water goes through the roots deeply. That will prevent the soil and plants from drying too much. 

Use Drip Feeding Method

Once you have created a compost tea, you can start doing the drip-feeding method for your plants. You can try several ways to make your self-watering system. 

Using Water Bottle 

  • Get a water bottle, two pieces of wood (same sizes), and tape. 
  • Use tape to bind the wood vertically at both sides of a water bottle. Place the bottle upside down. The stick or timber from the bottle’s mouth should be longer. Align the sticks together.
  • Cut the bottom part of the bottle. Don’t cut it whole. Leave a small portion to let you open and close the bottom. 
  • Pour the compost tea inside. 
  • Close the bottom lid. 
  • Stick your bottle upside down to your pothos, and slightly turn the bottle’s mouth lid to make drippings of coffee grounds compost tea. 
  • It will take 1-2 days to drain out the compost tea.  

Using Rope

  • Prepare a bucket and a thin rope.
  • Pour the compost tea in the bucket.
  • Elevate the bucket from the plant.
  • Get the bottom of thin rope from the other side and poke it to the bottom of the soil.
  • On the other hand, get the rope’s bottom from the other side and place it on the bottom of the bucket. The compost will naturally make dripping through the string—from one side to another.
  • It will take a week before the compost tea will drain out.

Don’t Use Coffee Grounds for Seedlings

Although coffee grounds can be an excellent alternative for your pothos, it can harm than good for seeds or seedling. 

They prevent them from germinating and growing. Moreover, coffee grounds have very fine particles, which makes them lock together. 

Benefits of Coffee Grounds to Your Pothos 

The common advantages of coffee grounds that most people know are increasing the soil’s acidity, enhancing plant growth, improving soil tilth, and controlling plant disease. (Sources: University of Wyoming)

Here are some of the potential benefits coffee grounds would give to your pothos plant: 

It can Bind Pesticide Residue

Although pesticide’s purpose is to eliminate insects and pests, it can also cause toxicity to plants.

As a result, it hinders the plant’s growth and development. Using coffee grounds in the soil can prevent the movement of these pesticide residues.

Coffee Grounds Moderate Soil Temperature

Moderating soil temperature increases the water retention in your soil mixture. In that way, you can avoid overwatering your plant. Finally, it will prevent the soil from too much dryness. 

In other words, you can balance water retention easily. 

Coffee Grounds Produce Humic Substances

According to a study, humic substances have their advantages. That includes improving the fertility and structure of the soil.

Moreover, it benefits the root architecture and nutrient uptake when you repot a plant in soil with coffee grounds. 

Coffee Grounds Improve the Soil Structure 

You can turn the mineral soils up to 35 percent when you sprinkle coffee grounds on your mixture. 

Whether you want to improve your soil structure for the short-term or long-term, this ingredient can enhance the soil’s minerals, such as copper, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. 

Coffee Grounds Produce Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio of 20-24:1

Compost feedstock is essential in growing your pothos. The Carbon/Nitrogen ratio is enough to break down the compost materials quicker. 

Balances the Soil’s pH Level

When the soil has too much alkalinity, the ground coffee’s acidity will balance the soil’s pH, which makes it perfect for planting your pothos. 

Coffee Grounds Slowly Release Nitrogen 

What makes coffee grounds different from other fertilizers is that it slowly releases nitrogen.

The soil microorganism breaks the organic molecules into simple ions to make the nitrogen’s slow-releasing component possible. 

Coffee Grounds Contain Nutrients and Micronutrients 

The nitrogen present in coffee grounds is 0.2 percent, while the potassium is 0.6 by volume, and phosphorus is 0.06.

Apart from these nutrients, coffee grounds have micronutrients, such as copper, calcium, boron, magnesium, and zinc. These are essential for your pothos to thrive.

Coffee Grounds in Your Soil Keeps Cats Away 

If your cat or your neighbor’s cat has this habit of using your garden as their ‘litterbox’, then sprinkling coffee grounds in the soil can keep them away.

Cats hate the strong smell of coffee. It is an affordable and pet-safe procedure. 

However, this could not be effective for your dogs, since most dogs try to taste everything out of curiosity. If that is the case, then make sure to keep your dogs away from your plants. 

What are the Problems with Using Coffee Grounds on Pothos?

Pothos tolerates acidic soil, but some problems may arise if you don’t use coffee ground the right way. Here are the possible challenges you need to address beforehand: 

Possible Fungal Growth

Since coffee grounds retain moisture, they might promote fungal growth. To avoid this from happening, you can add organic matters. 

If you are afraid this will happen, you can use a different strategy. You can sprinkle coffee ground on the soil to control the volume. 

On the other hand, you can spray your pothos and soil with compost tea. Fungal growth usually occurs when mulching. 

Coffee Grounds Can Form a Solid Barrier 

Since coffee grounds have very fine particles, they can form similar to a clay’s texture. When it dries, it can harden and inhibit the growth of seeds and seedlings.

That’s why it is crucial to add organic matter to the coffee ground if you want to use it as mulch. 

Can Inhibit Growth of Pothos

Coffee grounds can potentially suppress the growth of your pothos, just as how it inhibits the growth of seeds or seedlings. 

They would be safer to use for matured pothos plant, rather than new ones. Before you place coffee grounds on your pothos soil, make sure you are ready to take the risk. 

Potential Risks to Pothos

Coffee brings advantages to people with its antibacterial components. However, the way it benefited humans can be different from how it affects your pothos. 

For example, too many coffee grounds encourage microorganism growth. These microorganisms use nitrogen for their growth and reproduction while leaving nothing for the pothos. 

That’s why you need to add nitrogen fertilizer with your coffee grounds. 

Potential Risk to Soil

The pothos pH level requirement is around 6.1 to 6.5. If you consider its number, it is on the slightly acidic level. 

In that case, you only need coffee grounds if the soil’s pH level is too high. However, if the soil is acidic enough, the coffee ground will do more harm than good. 

You May Also Enjoy: Why Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Black? (And How to Fix It)

Watering with Leftover Coffee: Is it Possible? 

Have you ever had a moment where you forgot to drink your coffee? If that is so, that would be a waste of money to throw it away. 

Watering plants with leftover coffee is possible. But it still depends on the type of plants. For example, the pothos tolerates acidic soil. 

Others like pine-trees, azaleas, Siberian iris, rhododendrons, and lupines are acid-loving plants. Pouring leftover coffee to them would not be a problem. 

However, if you notice leaves’ yellowing, that means there’s too much acidity in the soil. Stop watering your plants with leftover coffee right away. 

Key Take-Aways

  • Pothos soil mixture’s pH level requirement is between 6.1 and 6.5. If it falls lower than that, pothos tolerates it. Use coffee grounds to soil with a higher pH level. 
  • Coffee grounds improve the soil structure and serve as good compost material since it has 2% nitrogen by volume. 
  • Coffee grounds inhibit the growth of seeds and seedlings. That’s why you need to avoid sprinkling or watering coffee grounds in the garden with newly-potted plants. 

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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