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Hostas are a favorite in many gardens. They’re tough, beautiful, resilient to cold, and grow back every year with lovely, large green leaves. You may have heard that coffee grounds can benefit plant life in your garden; does this hold for hostas, too? Do hostas like coffee grounds?
Hostas thrive in soil that is between 6.0 and 7.0 pH. As a result, they can benefit from coffee grounds in their environment if the soil is slightly alkaline and as a way of promoting early spring growth. However, coffee grounds will not benefit hostas if the soil pH level is below 5.5, and hostas have other soil preferences to factor in, as well.
Keep reading to learn whether coffee grounds are right for your hostas, how to best administer coffee grounds to hostas, and other uses for coffee grounds around the home and garden.
Can Coffee Grounds Benefit Hostas?
Hostas can benefit from coffee grounds in the soil if your local soil is naturally chalky, clay-rich, or otherwise alkaline. You may also wish to add coffee grounds to the soil if your soil is sandy and dry or if your property’s terrain is mountainous.
This is because hostas tend to thrive in nutrient-rich, moist soil. Coffee grounds can add vital nutrients, help lower the pH of alkaline soil, and make dry, chalky, or sandy soil more hospitable for hostas. If your soil pH level is 7.0 or higher, and if your soil struggles to retain nutrition, coffee grounds could be just what your growing hostas need.
Hostas can also benefit from coffee grounds in the soil in early spring before the growing season starts to help boost nutrient absorption and accelerate growth. While not all plants enjoy coffee grounds, hostas are fairly tough and adaptable plants and can benefit from a sprinkling of coffee grounds year-round in any climate or, more regularly, in alkaline soils.
So, what can coffee grounds offer your soil, anyway? Why do people add coffee grounds to their soil, and can soil be improved this way?
Check out: Ericaceous Compost For Hostas
What Do Coffee Grounds Add to Soil?
Coffee grounds add numerous beneficial qualities and properties to soil. They can make the soil more acidic, which is ideal for growing plants. While we typically think of acid as something corrosive or destructive, mild acidity in the soil helps plants to better absorb nutrition, boosts a plant’s cellular health, and helps them retain and efficiently use moisture year-round.
Coffee grounds also release nitrogen into the earth as they decay. Nitrogen is vital for healthy plant growth, and most garden plants and flowers need nitrogen-rich earth to thrive, grow, bloom, and seed.
For this reason, coffee grounds can do wonders for sandy, rocky, or clay-rich soil and also help attract earthworms to a garden. Earthworms, in turn, help turn the soil by burrowing through it, and their castings (or poop) make an excellent fertilizer.
The grit of coffee grounds helps to break up and aerate soil slightly, which improves soil health and makes your garden ideal for healthy plant growth. This texture variation and relatively slow break-down time make coffee grounds ideal for long-term as well as short-term fertilization. They’re also natural and non-toxic, and their smell can help repel some vermin.
The mild acidity, aeration, and good soil health that coffee grounds can offer are all qualities that hostas love. Hostas thrive in mildly acidic soil, though they tend to be a bit more flexible with soil acidity than other garden plants. So how can you tell if your hostas need coffee grounds? Is your soil ideal for hostas as is, or could it benefit from some old Folgers?
How Can I Tell If My Hostas Need Coffee Grounds?
One of the best ways to see if your hostas will benefit from coffee grounds is to test the pH level of the surrounding soil. If the pH level of your hostas’ environment is 7.0 or above, coffee grounds can help lower the pH level and add nutrition to the soil.
While hostas are a bit heartier than many garden plants, there are limits to how much acidity they can handle. A pH level of 5.5 or lower is going to be too acidic for your hostas and might stunt or kill them. So if your soil’s pH is already 6.0, there’s no need to add coffee grounds.
If your home is in an especially arid, dry, or soil-poor region, coffee grounds, as well as other composted materials, can do wonders for your garden. Look at the natural plant life surrounding your property; if you see mostly scrub brush, pine trees, or desert plants with little lush, green growth, your soil is likely to benefit from coffee grounds.
You may also wish to add coffee grounds to your hostas if you find them on the small side. Hostas can get fairly large and ideally have broad, healthy green leaves. A smaller plant that seems stunted or runty may benefit from coffee grounds to help boost nutrient and moisture absorption and promote better growth.
So what’s the best way to get a hold of coffee grounds? Where can you find them, and how should you store them?
How Can I Get A Hold of Coffee Grounds?
One of the easiest ways to get your hands on some coffee grounds is to brew coffee! Does the method of coffee brewing matter? Nope. You can use coffee grounds brewed from
- A traditional drip-brew coffee machine
- A pour-over
- A French press
- Keurig K-cups
- Espresso machines
- Coffee bags (like tea bags, only with coffee)
Gather up your coffee grounds after use, and store them in a stainless-steel bucket with a lid. If using coffee bags, you can keep the coffee in its paper bag; both will disintegrate and nourish the soil.
You can store them with other compost or separately for special coffee projects around the garden. Make sure to empty your bucket every two days to avoid the growth of mold and to avoid attracting fruit flies.
Another way to get coffee grounds is to request them from a local coffee shop. Ask your local coffee shop if you might be able to collect their grounds at a certain time and day. If the shop agrees, bring your stainless steel bucket to collect the grounds, and consider tipping in thanks.
Gas stations also brew plenty of coffee and might also be willing to hand over their used grounds. Another hot spot for used grounds is the office coffee machine or neighbors who might otherwise throw them away. Finally, farmer’s markets can also be a great source of fresh coffee grounds, especially at the end of the day.
So now that you have a healthy quantity of coffee grounds, how can you apply them to the soil? What methods can you use?
How Should I Apply Coffee Grounds to Hostas?
There are several ways to apply coffee grounds to hostas. One of the simplest methods is to sprinkle them around the base of the hosta about 6 inches away from the base of the plant in the early morning hours and water on top of the coffee grounds. This will help the grounds work their way into the soil naturally, as well as hydrate your hostas.
Another simple method is to use used or fresh coffee grounds in water and seep them overnight. Simply soak your used grounds or dry ground coffee in a watering can for at least 12 hours. 1 cup of grounds to 1 gallon of water should work just fine. Next morning, hydrate your hostas with your coffee-infused water and dispose of the grounds in the compost heap.
This is an excellent way to get rid of old coffee grounds or to use up unappealing coffee flavors. Did someone give you five packets of peppermint mocha-flavored ground coffee? Do you hate peppermint mocha-flavored coffee? Into the garden it goes!
So when should you apply coffee grounds to hostas? Can this be done year-round, or should you reserve this activity only for certain times of the year?
When Is a Good Time To Fertilize Hostas With Coffee Grounds?
Hostas will benefit the most from coffee grounds and from composting in the early spring. The added nitrogen and acidity in soil can help hostas get a head start on growth, as well as increase cellular health and moisture retention. As spring is when plants do their most important growing, the more nutrition in the soil during this time, the better.
Go ahead and fertilize with coffee or with coffee-rich compost weekly for the first four weeks of the early growing season. This will boost soil nitrogen, as well as increase soil health and acidity. This acid will help maximize your hostas’ ability to absorb nutrients from the earth and make use of water for cell growth and replication.
If your soil is especially alkaline, you can fertilize hostas with coffee every week throughout the warm seasons. Make sure your hostas have partial shade, soil with good drainage, and room to spread out, too. Many gardeners grow hostas near a shaded wall or a side of their home for this reason. If you notice your hostas struggling to thrive even in acidic soil and partial shade, a bi-weekly (once every two weeks) feeding with coffee as well as regular composting can help, too.
Coffee Grounds Make Excellent Compost
Another fantastic way to use coffee grounds to fertilize hostas is as part of a regular compost heap. Compost breaks down over time and provides vital quantities of nitrogen and carbon to the soil, helping plants to grow and flourish. Composting is natural, safe, and a great way to reuse kitchen scraps.
Coffee grounds lend acidity and mild bulk to compost and are especially favored by earthworms and microbes as a source of food. Coffee grounds can be safely composed along with
- Vegetable scraps
- Fruit rinds
- Green grass clippings
- Bark and twigs
- Dry leaves
- Ashes from a wood fire
Compost needs an even blend of nitrogen-rich elements like vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, and green grass clippings, along with dry, carbon-rich materials like bark, paper, leaves, and ash. A 50/50 blend is ideal and easy for most people to remember.
Spread compost above ground around your hosta plants, and then allow the rotting materials to fertilize the soil with rain and periodic watering. You can also mix compost into turned soil in a garden before planting, and use compost-enriched soil in raised flower beds, as well.
So you’ve used coffee grounds to fertilize hostas, and you have some coffee grounds in your compost heap. What else can you do with coffee grounds around the home and garden? Do they have other uses besides as a fertilizer?
Check out: Do Hostas Like Mushroom Compost?
Coffee Grounds Can Be Used Around the House
Coffee grounds can be used in a variety of creative ways around the house and in the yard. Even if you don’t have a compost heap, you can still put them to work.
Burning coffee grounds on a patio table or deck can help repel mosquitoes. Dry out your coffee grounds before using them for this purpose; collect the dried grounds in a small, fire-proof container, and use a small amount of lighter fluid and a flame to light them on fire.
The smoke should help repel annoying insects and keep your outside space more comfortable. This same tactic can be used in a fire pit, as well. Simply toss your ground coffee into the fire, and enjoy a scented, natural insect repellent.
Dried coffee grounds can also help absorb odors in fridges, closets, and other enclosed spaces. Simply place them in a small bowl, and let them work like baking soda to soak up moisture, odors, and humidity.
Coffee grounds can also be mixed with wax and molasses to create artificial logs for your wood-burning stove. These logs smell great, are better for the environment than wood, and can help keep you warm on a chilly night.
Hostas prefer soil with an acidity of 6.0 to 7.0. If your soil is slightly alkaline, fertilizing with coffee can be a great way to help your hostas grow and thrive. Treat with coffee early in the growing season, weekly in alkaline soil, and once every other week in neutral to slightly acidic soil. If your soil pH level is at 5.5 or below, refrain from coffee treatments.
Coffee grounds can be sourced from your home or a local coffee shop. Sprinkle around the base of your hostas and water generously. Alternately, you can seep ground coffee in water overnight and hydrate hostas with this coffee-infused water, disposing of or composting the leftover grounds.
Coffee grounds can also be used as a natural insect repellent when burned, can absorb odors and moisture around the home, and can be made into artificial logs for a wood-burning stove. They can also be composted, and this compost can further nourish and fertilize hostas in the early growing season and throughout the year.