Do Lilacs Like Coffee Grounds

Feeding your lilacs is not only a good practice but also an act of love towards these beautiful flowering shrubs. It helps support their growth and enhances flower production. When it comes to feeding lilacs, there are various organic and inorganic options available. But have you ever wondered if coffee grounds are good for lilacs?

The answer is a resounding “Yes”! Coffee grounds can benefit lilacs, especially those planted in nitrogen-deficient soil. However, it’s essential to apply the coffee grounds at the right growing stage and ensure that the soil effectively absorbs the nutrients.

So, let’s delve into a detailed answer on whether or not coffee grounds should be used on lilac flowers.

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What are Lilacs?

Lilacs are delightful, hardy flowering shrubs that require minimal care to thrive. The common variety, Syringa vulgaris, displays bright green foliage and beautiful, fragrant flowers in shades of magenta, pink, and white. These versatile plants can be used as border plants, hedges, windscreens, or corner plantings, making them beloved in many gardens.

Now, let’s explore how coffee grounds can benefit lilacs.

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How Do Coffee Grounds Help Lilacs?

Coffee grounds are an excellent fertilizer because they contain essential nutrients that plants need for growth. They are a rich source of nitrogen and help decrease the concentration of heavy metals in the soil. Additionally, coffee grounds have the added advantage of attracting worms, which further aids in soil health.

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However, it’s crucial to use coffee grounds sparingly.

Coffee grounds have high acidity and are best reserved for acid-loving plants. Lilacs, on the other hand, prefer soil with a pH level between 6 and 7.5, which is less acidic. Therefore, when using coffee grounds for lilacs, moderation is key.

It’s important to note that if your soil is already high in nitrogen, using coffee grounds as an organic fertilizer may hinder flower growth. The additional nitrogen boost from the coffee grounds can inhibit the development of flowers.

The Best Fertilizer for Lilacs

While coffee grounds can be beneficial, they might not be the best organic fertilizer for lilacs, especially if your lilacs are planted in low-nitrogen soil. So, what alternatives should you consider?

Inorganic Fertilizers: Lilac bushes benefit from fertilizers with different ratios of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Experts recommend using formulations like NPK 5-10-5, 5-10-10, 10-10-10, or 20-20-20. It’s advisable to test your soil to determine the most suitable fertilizer for your lilacs.

Organic Fertilizer: A great organic fertilizer for lilacs is bone meal. It not only provides essential nutrients but also helps sweeten acid soil by adding lime. Apply organic fertilizer after temperatures rise in late spring or early summer. Generally, lilacs don’t require frequent fertilization, as organic fertilizers release nutrients gradually.

You can also create your organic fertilizer by incorporating slow-acting bone meal, fish emulsion, manure, or compost. Banana peels add potassium, while grass clippings and coffee grounds contribute nitrogen to the soil. Remember to use coffee grounds sparingly.

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Important Factors to Consider When Growing Lilacs

What Kind of Soil Do Lilacs Need?

Lilacs thrive in well-drained, fertile, and humus-rich soil with a pH level close to 7. If your soil is in poor condition, adding compost can help enrich it. For acidic soil, incorporate generous amounts of compost into the planting site before planting.

What is the Sunlight Requirement for Lilacs?

Lilacs require a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight per day to ensure healthy growth and abundant flowering.

Pruning and Deadheading Lilacs

Pruning is crucial for promoting bountiful lilac blooms. Deadheading, the removal of dead flowers, is one aspect of pruning that enhances both appearance and future flowering. Deadheading should be done within a week to ten days after the flowers fade.

This practice redirects the lilac’s energy towards developing flowers for the following year, rather than producing seeds. Additionally, prune your lilacs for height control soon after they finish flowering. Delaying pruning until winter or fall may result in diminished flowering the following spring.

How to Mulch Your Lilacs

Mulching helps control weeds and retain soil moisture around your lilacs. Spread 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch, such as wood chips or peat moss, around the base of your lilacs. Be cautious not to let the mulch touch the base stems of the plants. It’s advisable to slightly water the area while mulching, as excessive water can promote diseases. Keep the soil consistently moist around your lilacs, but be mindful not to overwater, as yellowing leaves may indicate excessive moisture.

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Reasons Why Lilacs Aren’t Flowering

If your lilacs aren’t flowering, several factors may be at play. Firstly, if your lilacs are still young, they may not flower until they reach three to four years of age. In such cases, patience is key.

If age isn’t a factor, adding a phosphorus-rich fertilizer to the soil can help stimulate flowering. Pouring an Epsom salt or sugar solution onto the plants can also encourage blooming. Epsom salt provides essential nutrients like magnesium and sulfate, which supplement fertilizer and improve chlorophyll production.

Additionally, improper pruning, especially severe pruning, can lead to a loss of flowers for one to three years. Lack of sufficient sunlight is another reason lilacs may not flower. They require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. If your lilacs are planted in a shaded area, consider transplanting them to a sunnier location.

Low soil fertility can also hamper flowering. In such cases, specialized fertilizers with low nitrogen and high phosphorus content can aid in the production of healthy flowers. Adding cow manure or a suitable low-nitrogen, high-phosphorous fertilizer can be beneficial for low-fertility soil.


If you’ve planted lilac bushes and are considering using coffee grounds as a fertilizer, it’s clear that coffee grounds can benefit lilacs, but only when used sparingly. While lilacs thrive in slightly alkaline soil, coffee grounds are acidic. Applying large quantities of coffee grounds to neutral to alkaline lilacs may harm the plants and inhibit flowering.

To ensure the health and beauty of your lilacs, explore other organic and inorganic fertilizer options that are better suited to their specific needs. Remember to consider factors such as soil type, sunlight requirements, pruning, and mulching to optimize the growth and flowering of your cherished lilac bushes. For more information about lilacs and other gardening tips, visit the Marmalade Cafe. Happy gardening!