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You might have heard some people say that they water their plants with their tea. But is it a good idea to water your plants with leftover tea? In this article, we go over if it is ok to water plants with tea and what the benefits are for plants watered with tea.
There are situations where used tea can be good for some houseplants and some garden plants. Often when you put leftover tea or used tea leaves into the plant soil or into compost, it can help create a rich fertile environment and add beneficial nutrients that can help plants grow and thrive.
Can You Water Plants With Tea?
As with most things, when it comes to can you do (insert random thing here) with plants or gardening, it depends.
The type of tea, what you put in your tea, and the type of plant will determine if it is ok to water your plant with brewed tea.
The best way to water a plant with tea is to dump leftover tea into the soil that doesn’t have anything else such as sugar, milk, or lemon added.
It is not that beneficial to brew tea just for the purpose of watering your plants.
Also, make sure that the tea has cooled down. Never pour hot tea into your plant’s soil. This can cause problems with the roots and damage your plant.
Nutrients in Tea Leaves
Plant fertilizer and plant food have 3 main nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
These 3 nutrients are the main building blocks that plants need to thrive.
On average dry tea leaves have 4.4% nitrogen, 0.24% phosphorus, and 0.25% potassium.
This puts the average tea slightly above the average nitrogen content of 4 %.
Some green tea leaves have even higher levels of nitrogen. Matcha has 6.11% Gyokuro 5.98%, Sencha 5.49%, Kamairicha 4.65%, Bancha 3.74%, and Hojicha 3.53%.
But all of these nutrient levels are what is measure with dry tea leaves, not what is extracted into liquid after brewing the tea.
Tea that is brewed will have a lower amount of these nutrients than the dry leaves prior to brewing.
In addition to the 3 main nutrients, tea also has beneficial polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can all help out your plants.
By watering your plants with tea they will get some of these beneficial nutrients but not as much as if you put the tea leaves themselves into the soil.
Tea can be acidic.
As to how acidic tea is, it all depends on what kind of tea and what is in the tea.
Anything below a pH of 7 is considered acidic, but below a pH of 3, and then it is considered very acidic.
Black tea is around a ph of 5.
Green tea is more neutral/alkaline with a pH of around 7-8, as long as it doesn’t have lemon added to the tea.
Tea with lemon or an additive of citric acid can be in a range of pH levels 2.9 to 3.9.
The pH levels of the tea are important if you are considering watering your plants with it.
Any plant that you want to water with black tea or herbal teas should prefer acidic soil.
Don’t use tea that has lemon added to it because the pH levels are too acidic.
Herbal teas range from pH level of 7 to 6.
However, if watering your plants with green tea (without lemon or citrus), then you don’t have to worry so much about levels of acidity since green tea is neutral to alkaline.
Prebottled Commercially available teas should not be used because many of them are below pH level of 3 due to the additives like citric acid that the manufactures put in the tea.
It would be best to not water your plants with any pre-bottled teas.
What Plants Are Best To Water With Tea
If you have tea often that would be leftover to water your plants with, it would be best to water those that prefer more acidic environments.
However, a little bit of tea here and there for a plant that isn’t on this list won’t hurt the plant since it would still be getting regular water.
Indoor Plants and Herbs That Do Well In Acidic Soil
- African Violets
Outdoor Plants That Do Well In Acidic Soil
- Blueberry Plants
What About Tea Bags?
What to do with those leftover teabags after you have had your tea?
The good news is that you can use the tea leaves after you’ve brewed your tea.
And by using the tea leaves for your plants you can take further advantage of the nutrients that the leaves have.
There are several ways to do this.
The most popular way to use leftover tea leaves from brewing tea is to compost them. Either in a compost tumbler or compost pile.
The other popular way to use these is to burry the tea bag with the leaves in the soil around the plant.
When using either of these methods make sure to pay attention to what the teabag itself is made of.
In many commercial brands of tea, the bag is made of polyester or other synthetic materials instead of just paper. If this is the case, open up the bag and take the leaves out before using them in your compost or plant.
When it comes to watering your plant with tea, it is ok to do as long as you don’t add lemon, sugar, or milk to it.
But don’t go to the trouble of brewing tea just to water your plants.
Leftover tea that doesn’t have anything added is ok to pour into your plant’s pot.
If you do this daily it is best to water a plant with tea that prefers soil more on the acidic side, unless you are a green tea drinker or herbal tea drinker.
Green tea and herbal tea is not acidic as black tea and will not have as much of an effect on the soil pH if you water the plant often with it.
- “Tea Components”, https://www.o-cha.net/english/cup/pdf/38.pdf
- “Testing the pH of common drinks using DrDAQ as a pH meter: results”, https://www.picotech.com/library/results/ph-level-drinks-drdaq
- “The pH of beverages in the United States”, ada.org
- “Ideal pH Levels for House Plants”, https://www.gardenersnet.com/atoz/ph-houseplants.htm