Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Detoxifying soil from York England
August 15, 2012 - How do you neutralize toxic soil, it may have been contaminated by Foxglove Digitalis Purpurea? Thankyou
view the full question and answer

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

Native flower bed with part sun
December 05, 2008 - I have recently put in three small flower beds and replaced the hard clay with decent dirt. The site is shaded in the AM but mostly sun in the PM. I would like to plant natives - what can you recommen...
view the full question and answer

Re-landscaping in Stephenville, TX.
November 17, 2012 - I prefer native plants. We are re-landsacaping, so I need grass, ground cover, vines and flowers to plant in our back yard. We have many trees and the whole yard is shady. A small area might be con...
view the full question and answer

Restoring disturbed land in Marshall, TX.
December 04, 2014 - I have a 30 acre tract of land in Marshall, Texas. The oil company has turned 2-3 acres surrounding the rig into gravel. I would like to return the gravel area to green space. Any suggestions on gras...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.