Katy Elliott

A daily design journal about new england life, home decorating resources, and renovating a 257-year-old house in Marblehead, MA.

Blue Hydrangeas: Do Coffee Grounds Work?

Posted on | June 29, 2012 | 11 Comments

The blue hydrangeas are in full bloom this week. The blooms always seem bluer the closer you get to the ocean. I’ve always thought the blue was partly due to our soil and we tend to have cooler, foggy nights.

This spring I decided to test a theory to make the flowers bluer by adding coffee grounds to the base of the roots. To obtain blue hydrangeas aluminum must be present in the soil. You can add aluminum sulfate if your soils lacks it…I’ve also heard theories of throwing a handful of old rusty nails in the soil before planting the shrubs. By adding organic matter such as coffee, vegetable peels, the pH is lowered which helps deliver the aluminum to the plant. (source: hydrangeashydrangeas.com)

Did I notice a difference? I think I’m lucky that my hydrangeas are naturally a beautiful blue which must mean we have a lot of natural aluminum in our soil. Do they look a tad darker with the introduction of coffee, maybe? I do have more blooms with pure blue rather then a mix of blue/purple tones.

The first and second photos are from this year and the bottom from summer 2011 (more photos here). I don’t notice much of a difference…but a good way to use up excess coffee grounds when you don’t have a compost heap. Either way I think the organic matter is good for the garden, right?

Summer 2012

Summer 2011 (more photos here)

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11 Responses to “Blue Hydrangeas: Do Coffee Grounds Work?”

  1. heather
    June 29th, 2012 @ 9:15 am

    These hydrangea are just gorgeous! Here in Oklahoma, we’re pretty darn far from the ocean, lol. That is an amazing blue.
    This spring I was putting coffee grounds on my peonies, I heard they worked well for them too! I think coffee in general is good for the garden, especially if its used and so its not too intense.
    Your flowers are just gorgeous! I envy your cool, foggy evenings!~


  2. Steve
    June 29th, 2012 @ 9:41 am

    Coffee grounds are acidic so it seems like that should work. I think they’re good for blueberries too. I might try adding some coffee grounds to a few of mine and not to others to see if I can see the difference.

    That photo of the hydrangea in the bowl up against one of your crusty walls is one of my favorites.


  3. barbara stroud
    June 29th, 2012 @ 10:11 am

    I add coffee grounds to my hydrangeas and my gardenias when the leaves start to yellow a bit, I do it more for the plant than for the bloom. It seems to make ours turn a nice green and really look healthy!


  4. Erica W.
    June 29th, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

    I’ve always heard coffee grounds and egg shells for roses and iron nails in the soil for hydrangeas.


  5. Ellen @Color Calling
    June 30th, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

    I really never thanked you for the post on the Golden Cod you did a while back. I “miraculously” received one for my summer birthday. It is the featured photograph on my blog today. Thanks, Katie!


  6. Allison
    July 13th, 2012 @ 8:51 am

    Hi! You know, I have a lovely hydrangea bush, that had 1/2 blue, 1/2 green and dusty plum flowers. Really unusual. But, the blue flowers are my absolute favorite. Last year for a couple weeks I’d dump my grounds and even old cold coffee into the soil. This year, the bush has only produced blue flowers. I can only think it was the coffee!


  7. Laurie
    September 26th, 2012 @ 11:52 am

    I put aluminum sulfate around mine in February and water it in well to increase the depth of blue. The coffee grounds are great for hydrangeas because the earthworms love them, which equals richer, happier soil. Love your blog!


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