If taken proper care of, Christmas cactuses are beautiful cactuses that bloom in winter. But when grown indoors, we need to supplement the cactus with various fertilizers to meet its nutrient requirement.
And here is where coffee grounds come into the picture. The coffee ground has been used in gardening for a long time now, and people often wonder if they can put coffee grounds on Christmas cactus or not. Let us find out.
Coffee grounds are a great source of nitrogen and have a measurable amount of magnesium and potassium, which will surely help your Christmas cactus grow and bloom. However, you should only use it alternatively with your regular fertilizer as it is not a replacement for the same.
Coffee grounds can be used as a natural fertilizer for your Christmas cactus. Let us see more of it and know what it can do for your Christmas cactus.
Are coffee grounds good for Christmas cactus?
Coffee grounds for Christmas cactus are good, especially as it helps in their blooming, and it even helps revive your dying Christmas cactus.
Coffee grounds are an excellent choice for your Christmas cactus because it contains magnesium, nitrogen, and potassium.
These nutrients are required for the growth and blooming of the plant. So, adding coffee grounds helps the plant’s growth and adds organic matter to the soil.
However, adding the coffee ground directly to the soil is not advised. It would be best to prepare it first to make it beneficial for your plant.
Best way to use coffee on Christmas cactus
Coffee grounds can help plants to advance their health and development. The only way you can damage your Christmas cactus with coffee grounds is by adding coffee grounds directly to the soil.
Adding coffee directly to the soil can cause several issues, such as fungal growth and pest invasion.
Following are the best ways to add coffee grounds to the growing medium. Let us review and understand the same:
Coffee grounds are easy to break down as they have nitrogen, and it makes the compost rich in nitrogen and other nutrients. Compost with coffee in its mix with the soil faster.
Keep the given points in mind when composting:
- It is important to keep the compost dry to amplify the decomposition process.
- Add dry material such as barks, sticks, dried leaves, dried flowers, etc.
- Supplement compost in the potting medium in the ratio of 1:3. The best timing is in the summer during repotting.
- Add a small amount to the plant. Preferably one inch on the top is sufficient.
- If the compost is heavy, add cactus mix, perlite, and organic matter to the compost to make it light and balanced.
Mix coffee grounds with mulch
You can also use coffee grounds by adding them to the mulch. Mulch helps improve the drainage, soil’s structure, water-retaining properties, etc.
Disadvantages of using coffee in the mulch:
Coffee grounds in mulch may become a barrier for light to reach the roots, and it can compact the soil and lead to water retention. This condition will promote diseases and fungus.
How to use coffee grounds as mulch:
Add coffee grounds and organic matter (shredded leaves, dried flowers) to the compost. Mix everything and add it to the top of the soil.
Add a coffee grounds layer on the soil, and then add a 4-inch layer of mulch to balance the ratio.
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Add coffee grounds to the potting mix.
When the coffee ground is added to the potting medium, it helps the Christmas cactus to boost growth and promotes blooming.
Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen which proves best for the plant, especially when transplanting it.
Add coffee grounds to the soil mix along with organic material to balance the nutrient content. It improves soil’s drainage and makes the soil aerated.
When added to the soil, coffee grounds will help the soil absorb moisture and nutrients.
Coffee grounds as compost tea
When the coffee ground is utilized as compost tea, it acts as a liquid fertilizer.
That is better for the plant because it’s diluted and has balanced nutrient content. This will encourage blooming and improve the overall health of the plant.
Create compost tea in the following way:
Put 2 cups of coffee grounds in stocking and put it in a water container. Let it steep for a few days, then pour it into the soil.
Add 2 cups of coffee grounds to 5 tons of water. Let it steep overnight and pour into the soil the next day.
Disadvantages of using coffee grounds on Christmas cactus
Coffee grounds are not always good for your Christmas cactus, and there are a few disadvantages.
Please read them before you decide on using coffee grounds for your Christmas cactus.
Moisture retention means the moisture is contained within the soil, which is not good for your Christmas cactus and indoor plants as it makes the soil heavy.
Christmas cactus needs light, and porous soil and coffee grounds may decrease the quality of the soil.
Coffee grounds will compact the soil, changing its texture and leading to moisture retention.
If you add coffee grounds on top of your Christmas cactus, then the soil will become compacted as it dries out.
The soil becomes hard and affects the health and growth of the plant.
Coffee grounds create a physical barrier on the top of the soil due to which water cannot go inside the soil.
That can even result in the death of the plant because water and air cannot flow easily.
That is why it is recommended to add organic matter and dried particles to form a balance.
Hinders growth in young plant
Coffee grounds have caffeine which may hinder the growth of young plants or seedlings.
Adding them to young plants and seedlings will damage the roots and don’t let the plant grow.
Coffee grounds make soil compact which ultimately leads to water retention.
That creates the perfect condition for the fungus and bacteria to grow and thrive.
It is always recommended to use coffee as compost or compost tea to make it light.
Christmas cactus prefers slightly acidic soil, ideally with a pH between 5.5 to 6.2.
If you add coffee grounds to the Christmas cactus, there are high chances of alteration in soil ph level.
It can be disturbing for the plant and can create different problems.
How much coffee grounds should be added to the Christmas cactus?
How much coffee is good for your Christmas cactus?
We can never answer that with a definite amount, but there are a few things to consider.
Too much coffee is not good for your Christmas cactus. It will lead to water retention, a barrier for water to penetrate into the soil, and fungal growth.
A thin layer of coffee grounds and a 4-inch layer of mulch is a good combination. Compost or compost tea is proven to be safe and useful for them.
How often should coffee be added to the Christmas cactus?
Coffee grounds for Christmas cactus, in particular, are good when added in small amounts and within a three months gap.
The best thing is it assists in the blooming of the Christmas cactus.
Start with a cup of black coffee in a month and see how it goes. If there are no results, increase the amount and go slow and observe.
Coffee grounds serve as a nutrient booster for your dull Christmas cactus, and it will largely benefit the growth and overall health of the plant.
Always keep the disadvantages and advantages of coffee grounds before using them.
If the soil is already acidic, then stop using coffee grounds.
Reference: NC State University, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County, Researchgate, Texas A&M University, Chicago Botanic Garden.