Reading Time: 8 minutes 🍃
There’s nothing more satisfying than a nice cool, juicy strawberry on a hot afternoon in June. Strawberries are a favorite fruit to many, so much so that people have taken it upon themselves to plant their own at home. However, if you’re new to gardening, you may have heard coffee grounds are a great addition to soil, but is that true for strawberries? Do strawberries truly like coffee grounds?
Strawberries belong to a group of plants called “acid-lovers” because of their love of acidic soils. Because of this, coffee grounds are a great addition to your soil, as they are slightly acidic and can boost the acidity in your soil, keeping your strawberries happy and healthy.
Strawberries love acidic soil, and while coffee grounds can be great for them, too much of anything can be a bad thing. Keep reading to learn the correct amount of coffee grounds to add to your soil.
Are Coffee Grounds Good for Growing Strawberries?
As mentioned before, strawberries are among a group of plants called “acid-lovers,” but there is another name for this group as well: “lime-haters.” They are called lime-haters because they do not grow well in lime-based or alkaline soils. This is soil that is above a pH of 7.0.
Acid lovers grow much better in soils that are below 7.0. These are acidic soils. Strawberries thrive in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Because strawberries prefer acidic soils, coffee grounds can be a great addition to your soil. There are a few reasons why a person may choose to add coffee grounds to boost the amount of acid in their soil.
The first reason may be that, due to overwatering or flooding, the acidity or nutrients have been washed out of the soil, leaving your soil less acidic than it should be. It could also be that the soil purchased wasn’t acidic enough, and it needs a boost.
Another reason is that soil naturally becomes more alkaline over time, so it can be a good idea to add coffee grounds to your soil, even if you bought soil of the correct acidity and your strawberries haven’t been flooded or overwatered.
If your strawberries are grown in soil that is not acidic enough, it may be difficult for them to absorb iron and phosphorus, causing their taste to be considered anywhere from poor to slightly off-tasting. For fresh, juicy strawberries, always maintain the correct levels of acidity for your strawberry plants.
The Pros and Cons of Using Coffee Grounds in Your Soil
Like with anything in life, there are pros and cons of adding coffee grounds to your soil. It is important to weigh the pros and cons to help you make the best decision possible for your plants. What may work for one plant may not work for another, so you should keep in mind the current health and needs of your strawberries when making your choice.
There are a lot of good reasons to add coffee grounds to your soil. The first reason is that coffee grounds can double as mulch or a slow-releasing fertilizer for your strawberries. This is important because you do not want your plant to dry out, but you don’t want it to become flooded, either.
Coffee grounds hold onto an almost perfect amount of water for strawberries, which is good if you are the type of person to forget a watering here or there. They also allow water to leave the soil more easily when there is too much of it, keeping your plants safer from flooding.
Another good reason to use coffee grounds is how accessible they are. If you live in a small town far away from the nearest gardening shop, it may be difficult to find the time to drive all the way to the shop for acidic soils and compost. Luckily, coffee grounds can be found in almost every store, if you don’t already have them at home, that is.
Another pro is the nutritional benefits. Like humans, when plants have the correct amount of nutrients, they can grow healthier and happier.
Coffee grounds contain the following minerals:
Phosphorus is responsible for dividing the cells within your plant. This is what allows your plant to grow. Without phosphorus, your plants simply wouldn’t be able to start growing.
Potassium is important for plants as it moves water around inside the plant. This allows nutrients to be moved throughout the plant to where it needs to go.
Nitrogen creates amino acids for your plants, which are extremely important to a plant’s health. Without nitrogen, your plants cannot use amino acids to make enzymes and proteins.
Coffee grounds include many micronutrients, but the main four are as follows:
Calcium is greatly important as it creates cell walls and membranes for your plants’ cells.
Zinc is responsible for the metabolic processes of plants, such as respiration, photosynthesis, and the breaking down of organic compounds.
Boron is used to move sugar and energy around in your plant, as well as play a big role in pollination.
Iron aids in chlorophyll synthesis; as a side effect, this makes parts of your plant green.
There is one big con of using coffee grounds in your soil: you don’t have directions. At first, this may seem like no big deal, but too much of anything can be a bad thing. While your strawberries love acidic soil, you don’t want to make your soil too acidic, as this can also harm your strawberry plants. You also don’t want to use too little, as it can be ineffective if not enough coffee grounds are mixed in with the soil. The key is balance.
When you buy products for plants at the store, they come with instructions because it can be crucial you give the right amounts to your plants to avoid disaster or unwanted results. If you don’t have instructions, you may not know how much coffee grounds you should be adding to your soil and when.
Luckily for us all, coffee grounds are quite easy to add to your soil.
How to Grow Strawberries Using Coffee Grounds
As a general rule of thumb, when adding coffee grounds to your soil, your strawberry plants should be sitting in 25% coffee grounds and 75% nutrient-rich soil. To obtain this, add 1 cup of new or used coffee grounds for every 3 to 4 cups of soil. You can do this every day for 10 days, but it is advised you stop after 10 days, as continuing can add too much acidity to your soil, possibly harming your strawberry plants.
If you wish to add coffee grounds to your compost, then you should add 1 cup of new or used coffee grounds every week to it, being sure to mix it thoroughly each time.
To learn more about the benefits and techniques behind using coffee grounds to grow strawberries, you can watch this video from Farm Life on YouTube.
Coffee Ground Alternatives
For people who don’t wish to use coffee grounds or who simply don’t drink coffee and, therefore, do not have them around their house, there are alternatives you could use to make your soil more acidic.
Ericaceous compost is an acidic compost made directly for plants that are acid-lovers and lime-haters
You can use ericaceous compost with strawberries, but it is important to keep in mind that ericaceous compost is typically around 4.0 to 5.0 on the pH scale. It is slightly more acidic than strawberries typically prefer, as they usually grow best in a 5.5 to 6.5 pH. However, you can safely grow strawberries in ericaceous compost without problems.
Remember not to add any other acidic boosters if you choose to use ericaceous compost, as you don’t want to make the soil too acidic. If you choose to use ericaceous compost, it is suggested to use it alone without other acidic boosters like coffee grounds.
Peat moss is created in swamps as layers of moss begin to decay on top of each other. It can be a great addition to your soil, as it is not only acidic, but it always has plenty of healthy microbes your plant could benefit from.
Soil Brands Tailored for Acid-Lovers
If you so wish to, you could also purchase acidic soil to use with your strawberries, both when you first plant them and when they need a boost.
The most popular soil brands to use with strawberries are as follows:
- Espoma Ap16 16-Quart Organic Potting Mix
- This is great as a general soil for most types of plants.
- Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
- This is a great middleman between price and benefits.
- FoxFarm Strawberry Fields Potting Soil
- As this soil is specifically tailored toward strawberries, it is the best for your strawberry plants and will result in the most amount of strawberries out of the three.
Keep in mind that no matter what method you go with, you will eventually have to replace the acidity in your soil. The soil will naturally try to become more alkaline over time, resulting in you needing to replace the acidity. It is also possible the acidity can lower due to overwatering and flooding, so it is crucial you keep an eye on the acidity levels of your strawberries and boost it as needed.
If you would rather not use coffee grounds, you can always replace the soil around the roots with new acidic soils or simply add ericaceous compost or peat moss. Whichever you decide, be careful about the amounts you are adding, as you don’t want to overdo it when it comes to acidity. You should be continuously checking the levels of acidity in your soil, as well as only adding a few additives at a time to measure the amount the acidity goes up.
Comparing Coffee Grounds and Its Alternatives
If you would rather not use coffee grounds, alternatives are a great choice, but if you’re having difficulties choosing between coffee grounds and one of its alternatives, it is helpful to compare the benefits side by side.
A big difference between coffee grounds and ericaceous compost, peat moss, and brands of soil is how easy it is to find or purchase coffee grounds.
While you may have to go to a store specifically for gardens and plants to find ericaceous compost, peat moss, or acidic soil brands, you don’t have to travel very far to find coffee grounds.
In fact, you probably have coffee grounds in your house right now. Many people drink coffee, and as a result of this, coffee grounds can be found in grocery stores, supermarkets, and even gas stations or convenience stores.
While coffee grounds are easily accessible, products such as ericaceous compost, peat moss, and acidic soil brands are specifically tailored for plants, unlike coffee grounds. This means these options may be more beneficial nutrient-wise to your strawberry plants, as they are designed to help your plants grow as healthy as possible and to be as fruitful as possible.
Overall, whichever choice you may make, it is important to remember to be patient with your plants and to always do a little at a time. You can always add more coffee grounds or alternatives if you need your soil a little bit more acidic, but it can be slightly more difficult to recover from soil that is too acidic without making your soil overly alkaline.
Strawberry plants are acid-lovers, so making sure your soil is acidic is crucial. Whether you choose to use coffee grounds or one of the alternatives is completely up to you. Each will benefit your strawberries in its own way, making your strawberries healthy and delicious to eat all season long. When you remember that more is not always better, you can be confident that your strawberries are as healthy and happy as possible.