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Fiddle leaf ficus or fiddle leaf fig plants can sometimes benefit from a small dose of coffee grounds. At the same time, overuse of these coffee grounds can cause some damage to your plants. It’s a matter of understanding what coffee does to plants and the soil in which they grow.
As a general rule, coffee grounds – if used – should be added to a plant’s soil in small quantities. When doing so, it’s also best to use it in a way that emulates fertilizer or compost.
This article looks at how to do that, and what the possible complications may be when opting for using coffee as a supplement to provide the best fiddle fig leaf plant care.
One of the planet’s most vital substances, nitrogen, is needed by most plants to thrive. Coffee grounds happen to be very rich in nitrogen.
So, it makes sense that when adding some coffee to the soil, it enriches the nitrogen component for your plant to use.
On the other hand, coffee also raises the acidic content of the soil. Unfortunately, many plants don’t enjoy that side of the equation. This is why a careful balance must be sought when opting to use coffee on your plants.
Coffee has a few additional benefits for the fiddle fig leaf soil itself. It is an organic material, so it can be utilized as fertilizer.
It also assists with water retention and aeration and seems to be very attractive to the infinitely beneficial earthworm, of all things.
PH levels in the soil are highly sensitive and critical to healthy plant growth. As mentioned, coffee grounds in principle can raise the acidic level of soil, meaning it lowers the pH level. But this isn’t strictly true at face value – or rather, it’s more complicated than that.
Only fresh coffee grounds are acidic. Used coffee has a neutral pH balance and will not necessarily acidify your soil.
The point is, raw coffee (high acidic value) will have a different impact on soil than brewed or rinsed coffee, which both skew to neutral pH.
It’s also worth knowing that pH reads from 0 to 14, with 7 being the dead center – or neutral – reading on the scale.
Fiddle leaf figs like a pH of 6.5 to 7. If your soil reads consistently higher than this, it may result in root burn.
Similarly, if it is too low, there will be other problems, but more on this below.
Coffee ranges in pH, depending on whether it’s raw or brewed, and sometimes differs from brand to brand. Generally, coffee will register somewhere between 5.2 (unbrewed) and 6.9 (brewed).
Don’t be too complacent about seemingly small differences in number, either. The smallest pH imbalance can have an impact on the acidity and suitability of the soil. Bottom line: err on the side of caution.
So, let’s agree that you feel confident that you can use coffee in your soil to help your fiddle fig leaf plant along.
Start with a small dose of diluted coffee. Use cool water – hot water may shock the plant. Then, add a small amount to the soil once every two months.
Finally, monitor the response of the plant. If it looks happy, you may try increasing that dosage to once a month.
This is the most basic way to try coffee with your plant. It is, however, better to try one of the methods explained below, as they could be more effective.
It’s not a good idea to simply add coffee grounds to your plant pot. Grounds will collect on the top of the soil and clog the evaporation and drainage process. This is a prime environment for fungus and root rot.
The best way to use coffee on fiddle leaf figs involves employing it either in compost or in liquid fertilizer.
If you save other bits of raw, organic food waste from your kitchen, you could mix up a batch of organic compost along with your coffee grounds, and add some to your soil.
This not only adds the nitrogen boost from the coffee but other nutrients from the other foods like potassium and phosphorus as well.
About one-fifth of coffee to other waste should be a good start for your compost mix. You can also add a small amount of plant waste (leaves, sticks). Add this mix once every two months and see how the plant responds.
Remember: do not make the mix too wet and mulchy. The compost will tend to retain water, so make a point not to overwater the plant accordingly.
Making fertilizer from your coffee grounds is easy. Fill a container with water, add your coffee grounds and let it draw for a week or two.
If you like, you can stir the mixture every few days. After two weeks, when the coffee grounds have started to break up, strain the water, and feed it to your plants
The important nutrients have been filtered into the water, and you can now avoid the risk of the granules clogging up the soil.
As with every other method, start cautiously and keep an eye on how your plant responds. A feeding every couple of months should be enough.
Coffee may not be good for your fiddle ficus tree plant and soil. Here are three things to look out for.
If you add coffee grounds directly to the soil, it is likely to attract pests. Switch to using the coffee in fertilizer or compost form instead.
Your plant may suddenly not grow very well. Cut back on the frequency of adding coffee and see if the plant responds well. You may have to stop adding coffee altogether.
The soil is likely too acidic, causing root burn and yellowing leaves. It’s probably a good idea to stop coffee feeding.
If you are finding success with adding coffee to your ficus fig tree plant in one form or another, it’s still important to remember to change the soil every 2-3 years.
Over time, the soil may eventually build up its acidity. So, what may be fine initially, may not be in three years from now.
Repot the plant in new potting soil and continue with whatever regimen has been successful before.
Coffee can be good for your fiddle leaf ficus tree and soil. It will provide a useful nitrogen supplement and will be especially useful in raising the acidic soil level for a fiddle leaf fig plant.
But it’s important not to overdo it. Go slowly at first and see how the plant reacts to your supplement. It’s also best to use the coffee as a diluted fertilizer or mixed as compost.
Finally, remember to change the soil every 2-3 years to keep the soil from becoming too acidic over time. With that in mind, here’s to another healthy cup of fig ficus java!