This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

October 17, 2016

How to amend desert soil for free with coffee grounds

The weather here in the Phoenix area is wonderful for tropical plants. It never snows here, and even the worst frosts really aren't all that bad. There's a lot of sunshine, and warmth, and well, just about everything. Except the soil is just awful.

Now don't get me wrong, the soil is just fine for cactuses, agaves, and other desert-adapted plants. But it's much too alkaline for palm trees, and cycads. And that's why I say that my plants aren't really planted in Arizona, they're planted in holes in Arizona, filled with potting soil. And coffee grounds.

Yes, coffee grounds. I've been adding in coffee grounds here for years and years. You can get it for free at coffee shops (especially the ones that charge waaayyyy too much for a cup of coffee), and you can get it from whenever you make coffee (I keep a plastic container next to my coffeemaker, and I dump the grounds there, not into the garbage).

At first I just sprinkled the coffee grounds on top of the soil. It looked nice for a while, and made my garden smell like fresh-brewed coffee. But once the coffee grounds dry up, they look kinda rough on top of the soil, and besides, that's not what they're for. They're to mix in with the soil.

Coffee grounds are acidic. Now don't panic, I don't mean that you're adding a bunch of acid to your garden, I just mean that you're lowing the alkalinity. And coffee grounds are organic, which means that they break down in the soil, and plants consume them.

So get some coffee grounds and mix it together with the soil the next time you plant something. Dig a BIG hole and mix it up with the native soil, the potting soil, and the coffee grounds. Tropical plants love it.

Tropical plants in my garden enjoying coffee grounds in the soil

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