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Should You ‘Water’ Your Plants With Leftover Coffee (and Other Drinks)?

As we bring a stack of mostly-empty glasses and mugs from the office to the kitchen, we’ve all wondered: What would happen if I dumped these in my pothos plant?

Probably nothing, at least for the time being. While some traditional beverages should never be used to “water” plants, others are safe and even beneficial. It all depends on the compounds contained in the beverage.

Seltzer: It’s just right.
While all drinks are primarily made up of water, seltzer—even flavoured varieties—comes quite near to regular tap water. Because of the carbonation and flavouring essences, it’s more acidic, but most plants prefer slightly acidic soil anyway, so that’s not always a bad thing. (The pH of potting soil ranges from 6-7, but it’s generally closer to 6.) An ounce or two of flat pamplemousse LaCroix is perfectly safe to use on your plants, particularly if you dilute it with tap water first.

Our favorite caffeinated beverages are just dead plant matter and water, which happen to be two of the three things growing plants need. (The third is light.) Tiny quantities of basic nutrients including phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium are present in the dead plant matter, making the resulting beverage mildly acidic. In essence, leftover tea or coffee is a poor fertiliser.

Hard move on booze, juice, dairy, and other sweet or fatty beverages.
If you’ve ever been hesitant to pour the last of a bottle of wine into your ficus, your instincts were correct—even if your logic wasn’t. In small amounts, ethanol isn’t harmful to plants, but the sugars and other carbohydrates used in alcoholic drinks (and others) are.

Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which make food nutritious for humans, are useless to plants. Although a little sugar won’t kill you right away, feeding plants nutrients they can’t or won’t use will eventually kill them—if the pests they attract haven’t already done so. Insects love sugar, yeast, fat, and anything else they can get their hands on, but pouring beverages containing those ingredients into a small amount of potting soil is a recipe for an ant or fungus gnat invasion. As we bring a stack of mostly-empty glasses and mugs from the office to the kitchen, we’ve all wondered: What would happen if I dumped these in my pothos plant?

Probably nothing—at least not right away. While some common drinks should never be used to “water” plants, others are harmless, or even potentially beneficial. It all depends on what types of compounds a beverage contains.

Read more • lifehacker.com

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