Using Tea Leaves in Gardening: Tips and Tricks

Tea is a common household beverage with surprising benefits for gardening. Tea leaves can help increase nitrogen levels in the soil, break down compost, and prevent pests and fungi. However, adding tea leaves to plants can also have some downsides, especially for plants that prefer alkaline soil.

Here are some tips and precautions to follow when using tea leaves in your garden:

Adding Tea Leaves to Compost

Tea leaves can be a great addition to your compost bin. They are a natural source of nitrogen, which is essential for healthy plant growth. When added to compost, tea leaves can help break down other organic materials and encourage the growth of decomposing bacteria. Loose tea leaves or paper tea bags (without staples or string) can be added to the compost bin.

Using Tea Leaves for Pot Plants

Pot plants that prefer acidic soil, such as azaleas, camellias, and roses, can benefit from used tea leaves. However, it is best to add them to compost and mix them with other ingredients, rather than directly to the soil.

Preventing Weeds and Fungus

Tea leaves won’t prevent weeds, but they can be used in mulch to discourage weed growth. Moreover, spraying cooled tea on plant leaves can help prevent fungal diseases.

Detering Pests and Insects

Tea leaves can also deter pests and insects that dislike the smell, such as mice, cats, and some insects. Scatter the leaves around the roots of the plant or spray cooled tea on the plant.


Not all plants like tea leaves, especially those that prefer alkaline soil. When adding tea leaves to soil or compost, keep an eye on your soil’s pH levels. Yellowing leaves may indicate that the soil’s acidity is too high. Moreover, avoid using tea with milk or sugar, as they can harm the plants.

List of Plants That Don’t Like Tea Leaves

Some plants that prefer alkaline soil may not benefit from the addition of tea leaves, including:

  • Baby’s breath
  • Boston ivy
  • Cacti
  • Carnation
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Dahlia
  • Daisies
  • Geranium
  • Hibiscus
  • Pink hydrangeas
  • Iris
  • Marigold
  • Peony
  • Poppy
  • Sunflowers

In conclusion, tea leaves can be a valuable addition to your gardening practices, but it’s essential to know the benefits and risks associated with them. Adding them to compost or using them on acid-loving plants can improve your soil’s health and prevent pests and fungi. However, be cautious when adding them to the soil or using them on plants that prefer alkaline conditions, and always monitor your soil’s pH levels.

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