How to use coffee in plants

Making a hot drink is a ritual at any time of year, but especially in the autumn when the mornings are dark and gloomy, and you couldn’t think of anything more uninviting than getting out of bed. However, like the Danish tradition of hygge, making a cup of tea or coffee brings a cosy and comforting quality to our routines – much needed at this time of year.

But did you know that it’s not just us that can benefit from a hearty beverage? Our plants can get a kick from tea, coffee and even milk! So, if you thought that your hot drink habits were starting to err on the side of obsession, here’s your reason to drink more…

How to use coffee grounds with your plants

Coffee in filter

I’ve been drinking Paddy & Scott’s ground coffee from my native county of Suffolk for years, and it’s perfect for a pick-me-up in the mornings, but you can also use it to perk up your plants. This is because ground coffee is acidic and contains high amounts of nitrogen, which is ideal for plants such as:

  • Hydrangeas
  • Roses
  • Rhododendrons
  • Azaleas
  • Heather
  • Lily of the valley
  • Orchids
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Radishes

Here are a few ways to use coffee to enhance your plants:

  • On top of soil – You can add coffee grounds directly to the soil around your plants to provide nutrients
  • Mixed into soil – Mix the grounds into the soil for aeration and better drainage
  • Composted – Mix spent coffee grounds into your compost – simply tip them onto your compost heap, then place dry ingredients on top to keep your compost balanced
  • Pest deterrent – If you’re worried about your plants being attacked by snails and slugs, spread coffee grounds around the base of the plant to act as a deterrent

I filmed some videos about how you can use coffee, tea and more to benefit your plants. Watch me use my coffee on my plants over on the Paddy & Scott’s Instagram page. and browse through the behind-the-scenes photos below!


How to use tea bags with your plants

Teabag in cup

If your household gets through a lot of tea bags, don’t just throw them away! There are lots of things you can do with tea post-cuppa, including:

  1. Pest deterrent – If you’re a drinker (or reader) or tea leaves, you can sprinkle them around your houseplants or garden plants after they’ve been boiled in order to keep pests away.
  2. Compost material – Like coffee, tea can be added to your compost heap. Ideally, with tea bags, you should open up the bag and pour the loose tea into your compost, then discard the bag in your household waste. This is because some tea bags contains plastics that are unsuitable for composting.
  3. Container rose tonic – Like any container plant, roses can lose nutrients quicker than plants in the ground. However, roses love the acidity and nitrogen that tea contains. Water them regularly with cooled tea (no milk), or compost tea (made by steeping tea and other kitchen waste in water).
  4. Orchid feed – Add tea to your orchid plants to see them flourish!

How to use milk with your plants

Milk in Jar

You might be thinking that milk is a terrible substance to use on plants – and when talking about regular, undiluted milk, you’d be right. However, when mixed with a bit of water, it has many uses.

Firstly, what you’ll need to do is create a sprayable solution. Mix 1 part milk to one part water, then funnel into a spray bottle, et voila! You have a milk spray for your plants. You can use this to:

  • Provide calcium for tomatoes and peppers – Generously spray the solution around the base of the plants so that they can absorb the calcium and vitamins from the milk
  • Prevent powdery mildew – Spray the leaves of tomato plants with the solution to prevent potentially disastrous powdery mildew. If some of the leaves do not absorb the solution so well, simply wipe them down to stop them from developing another fungal disease.
  • Houseplant duster – Remove dust and restore shine to the leaves of houseplants by wiping them with your milk and water solution.


Have you used coffee, tea or milk on your plants before? Let me know how you use it!

  • Ruthie Armstead

    I use cotton wool pads soaked in a weak solution of milk. It is particularly good on zz plants, rubber plants, aspidistra. great idea. I have been putting tea bags in my compost bin and my wormeries and I wondered why the worms were leaving the bags behind. didn’t realize they had plastic in them!

    December 5, 2021

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