A well-cared-for Christmas cactus rewards with beautiful flowers during the winter holidays. Boosting your Christmas cactus fertilizer needs is important for growth and flower production. So, are coffee grounds good for the Christmas cactus?
Coffee grounds are incredibly rich in nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and other micronutrients important to a Christmas cactus. Coffee grounds are also good at acidifying the soil, improving soil tilth, and enhancing drainage and aeration.
Are coffee grounds good for Christmas cactus?
The used ground beans coffee after brewing is not just for the trash bins. You can use them to enrich your garden or houseplant soils. Coffee grounds contain nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and other micronutrients beneficial to Christmas cacti and other plants.
However, the nitrogen in coffee grounds is not directly available to the plants until soil microorganisms break it down into simple ions released slowly into the soil over time. This means coffee grounds won’t give instant results but will be sustainably effective long-term.
Coffee grounds are slightly acidic (5.5 to 6.8 pH), while Christmas cactus prefers a pH of 5.5 to 6.2. Using water containing high sodium levels on plants can increase soil pH levels. Therefore, coffee grounds can be helpful in acidifying the soil to a preferred pH range for Christmas cacti.
Degraded coffee grounds are an excellent source of humus. They are also known to improve soil tilth and structure. Since Christmas cactus prefers well-drained soil with a high proportion of organic matter, coffee grounds serve as the right amendment for compacted soil.
Lastly, coffee grounds have strong repellent properties against insects, bugs, and animals. Using them can be a natural solution to most Christmas cactus bugs like aphids, spider mites, snails, fungus gnats, whiteflies, and other pests.
How to use coffee grounds on Christmas cactus
Coffee grounds become beneficial to plants when you use them correctly. Here is how to use coffee grounds the right way on a Christmas cactus:
Many gardeners directly add used coffee grounds to the soil, but research has shown that composting coffee grounds before use gives the best results with fewer risks. However, do not use more than 20-35 percent by volume of coffee grounds in a compost pile for proper decomposition.
Coffee grounds are finely textured and can easily compact when directly added to soil in thick layers. This will even slow down water and air movement in the soil, a potential risk for Christmas cactus root rot.
Add only a thin layer of coffee ground, preferably not over 1/2 inch thick. Ensure they are not in direct contact with the plant stems. Water the cactus as usual after the application of the coffee grounds.
Using coffee grounds to compost tea can also effectively benefit the plants. Mix 1 cup of used coffee grounds with 2 gallons of water and let it steep overnight. Then apply it as a liquid houseplant fertilizer on your Christmas cactus.
NOTE: Do not apply coffee grounds immediately after planting or repotting a Christmas cactus. The acidic nature of the material and traces of caffeine can stunt the growth of newly planted seedlings or young plants.
When to use coffee grounds on Christmas cactus
Like any other Christmas cactus fertilizers, timing is important in applying coffee grounds. Add coffee grounds every three to four weeks in spring and summer. Don’t apply coffee grounds the same week you use your regular houseplant.
Don’t add any form of fertilizer to your Christmas cactus in fall and winter. This is a blooming season; adding any fertilizer will result in Christmas cactus buds falling off. At this time, the plant has already stored enough nutrients and energy needed for blooming.
Cutting back on watering and putting a Christmas cactus in darkness for 12 to 14 hours daily for six to eight weeks will also encourage it to bloom.
Normal watering of your Christmas cactus can be resumed once the buds have formed. Christmas cactus doesn’t like it when the soil is overwatered. Typically, water when an inch of the topsoil feels dry to the touch.
Other care requirements
Christmas cactus is an easy plant to care for. Once the flowers have faded, you need to prune your Christmas cactus and repot it if necessary. This gives room for more growth, translating to more foliage and blooming when the season arrives. Repotting should always be done after every three to four years.
Proper lighting is also important to the well-being of a Christmas cactus. The plant prefers bright indirect light. A north- or east-facing window is an ideal spot for the plant. Christmas cactus drooping and leaves turning red or purple is a distress.
You should be misting your Christmas cactus when the air dries out. This should not be a bother if you already have a humidifier. Placing the plant on a pebble tray half filled with water can also provide the needed humidity to the plant. Keep your plants away from cold drafts, heating ducts, and fireplaces.
Fertilizing a Christmas cactus during the growing season is important to its growth and flower production. In addition to regular fertilizer, you can also use coffee grounds as they are a great nitrogen source and other nutrients.
- Oregon State University Extension Service: Coffee grounds and composting
- North Carolina State University Extension: Christmas Cactus Care
- University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Control light and Christmas cactus will bloom
My name is Diane M Lewik, and I am the founder of this website. I am a degree holder in plant biology from the University of California – Berkeley. Over years, I have cultivated a vast collection of succulents and I have learned a great deal about how to grow and care for these unique plants.