En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
5 ratings

Monday - April 21, 2008

From: Atlantic Beach, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Soils
Title: Plants for acid soils and coffee grounds for the soil
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please tell me what plants & flowers need acid soil and are coffee grains good to make soil acid?

ANSWER:

Once upon a time, people took their used coffee grounds outside to a shady spot and buried them. This encouraged earthworms to show up, because the grounds help to hold moisture in the dirt. Sadly, the people doing this were not doing it for the good earthworms can do for gardens, but for bait! That same principle does hold true, however, when you are preparing potting soil and need some acidity in it. Everybody knows coffee is acidic, and your stomach will remind you of that if you drink too much. So, you recycle the leftover grounds from your morning cuppa into an acid-producing, moisture-holding additive to potting soil. Plants that need an acidic soil to do well are rhododendrons (including azaleas), blueberries and blackberries, hydrangeas and many types of evergreens and conifers. Most other plants, including vegetables and fruits, need a neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Some gardeners who are growing acid-loving plants suggest using the coffee grounds as a side dressing to the plants in the ground.

 

More Soils Questions

Plants for red clay in Hattiesburg, MS
May 16, 2011 - Looking for plants and flowers to plant in red clay?
view the full question and answer

Recovering neglected garden space from Grapevine TX
March 22, 2014 - I live in Grapevine TX (Dallas). I just moved into a house where almost the entire large backyard is covered by oak trees that shed tons of leaves throughout our mild falls/winters. The yard has not...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen pet-safe shrubs for house and screening in McKinney TX
April 15, 2010 - Looking for shrub, preferably evergreen, to plant near the house that can handle wet ground and is pet (dog, cat, horse) safe. The area became boggy after we had an underground water leak that is now ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for heavy clay in Sonoma County, California
July 10, 2013 - Hi, I live in Northern California, Sonoma County, and would like to transition my front garden into mostly native plants. Trouble is, my soil is clay, yicky, heavy clay, and some of the natives I've ...
view the full question and answer

Do leaves with tannins make good compost from Austin
November 04, 2010 - I have a couple of old native pecan trees in my (or neighbor's) yard that drop bushels and bushels of leaves every fall. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I have a recollection that pecan leaves have...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center