What Vegetables Do Not Like Coffee Grounds: A Guide to Companion Gardening

Coffee grounds are commonly used as a natural fertilizer in gardens. They are rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, which are essential nutrients for plants. Many gardeners swear by the benefits of coffee grounds and use them to improve the quality of their soil. However, not all vegetables are compatible with coffee grounds. Some vegetables thrive in soil amended with coffee grounds, while others may suffer from nutrient imbalances or other issues. In this guide to companion gardening, I will explore the vegetables that do not like coffee grounds, so you can make informed decisions about using them in your garden.

Why Use Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Before we dive into which vegetables do not like coffee grounds, let’s discuss why they are a popular choice for many gardeners. Coffee grounds have several benefits that make them a valuable addition to the garden:

1. Nutrient boost: Coffee grounds are rich in nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These nutrients help plants grow strong and healthy.

2. Improves soil structure: Coffee grounds can improve soil structure by adding organic matter. This improves drainage and water retention, making it easier for plants to absorb nutrients.

3. Increases soil acidity: Coffee grounds are slightly acidic, which can be beneficial for acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas, and rhododendrons.

4. Repels pests: Coffee grounds contain compounds that repel slugs, snails, and some garden pests. However, this benefit may vary depending on the specific pests in your garden.

5. Attracts worms: Worms love coffee grounds! Adding coffee grounds to your soil can attract earthworms, which help aerate the soil and improve its overall health.

Vegetables That Do Not Like Coffee Grounds

While coffee grounds have many benefits, not all vegetables appreciate them. Here are some vegetables that do not like coffee grounds in their soil:

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables like carrots, radishes, and beets prefer loose, well-draining soil. Coffee grounds, when used in excess, can cause compacted soil that inhibits root growth. Additionally, coffee grounds may contribute to an imbalanced nutrient profile in the soil, causing stunted or deformed root growth.

Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, and kale also do not fare well with coffee grounds. These plants require a slightly acidic soil pH, and while coffee grounds are acidic in nature, they can rapidly alter the pH balance if not used in moderation. Too much acidity can lead to nutrient deficiencies and impact the plants’ ability to absorb nutrients from the soil.


Legumes, including peas, beans, and lentils, have a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria in the soil that helps them fix nitrogen. Coffee grounds, being high in nitrogen themselves, can disrupt this natural process and hinder the legumes’ ability to access the nitrogen they need. This can result in stunted growth and reduced yield.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage may also struggle with coffee grounds. These vegetables prefer a neutral pH soil and may be sensitive to the acidity coffee grounds introduce. Additionally, coffee grounds can attract pests like cabbage worms, which can damage these plants.

Alternatives for These Vegetables

If you are growing any of the vegetables mentioned above, there are alternative methods to consider to enhance the health and productivity of your garden:

1. Composting coffee grounds: Instead of directly incorporating coffee grounds into the soil, consider adding them to your compost pile. This allows the grounds to break down slowly and become a more balanced form of organic matter that is beneficial to a wider range of plants.

2. Mulching with coffee grounds: Coffee grounds can be used as a mulch around plants that do not tolerate direct contact with them. Mulching with coffee grounds can deter certain pests and help retain soil moisture.

3. Testing soil pH: Before incorporating any amendments into your soil, it is essential to test its pH. This will help you determine if coffee grounds are a suitable addition or if you need to adjust the pH with other amendments.

4. Companion planting: Planting compatible vegetables together can promote healthier growth. Consider pairing vegetables that thrive with coffee grounds, such as tomatoes or peppers, alongside those that do not.


Coffee grounds can be a fantastic addition to your garden, but not all vegetables benefit from their use. Understanding which vegetables do not like coffee grounds can help you make better choices for your garden and avoid any potential issues. Remember to consider alternative methods, like composting or mulching, to ensure the health and productivity of your plants. With careful planning and proper consideration, you can create a thriving and harmonious garden using companion gardening techniques.

Leave a Comment