Can you water plants with tea? Gardeners weigh in

If you've ever wondered can you water plants with tea, we've asked gardeners to explain what the benefits and potential pitfalls might be

tea being poured from tea pot into cup
(Image credit: Getty)

'Can you water plants with tea?' is a question many gardeners have asked themselves. Particularly those who drink a lot of the stuff, and are left wondering how best to dispose of teabags.

Just like with coffee grounds, there are some gardening enthusiasts who will tell you that watering plants with tea helps to fertilize their plants. We always have our ears to the ground when it comes to gardening hacks that will save us time and money - but does this one really work?

tea bag being removed from mug

(Image credit: Getty)

Can you water plants with tea? 

'It’s one of the more bizarre gardening tricks, but it can work!' says Leslie Vincents of Atkins Garden Shop. 'Tea and tea leaves are just organic matter which is highly nutritious. The tea leaves are packed full of nitrogen, far more than your usual plant fertilizers and this promotes very leafy growth.

'Brew a pot using 2 tea bags then leave it cool overnight, this is absolutely essential as you don’t want to be throwing boiling or even warm water on your plants,' Leslie adds.

Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus in tea can be beneficial to our best indoor plants as well as those in the backyard. As Leslie says, nitrogen encourages leafy growth, so, in theory, burying teabags in soil, watering with cold tea or sprinkling dry tea leaves onto soil might help leggy plants to look more bushy.

watering can poured over plants in garden

(Image credit: Getty)

However, when learning about can you water plants with tea, it's worth knowing that there are also other ingredients in tea that could potentially prevent plants from growing. These include fluorine and aluminum, so do bear this in mind.

What's more, tea can make your soil more acidic, so trying this hack could have an impact on the pH levels of your soil. You could try this watering plants with tea hack on plants that are happiest in slightly acidic soil – like poinsettia, hydrangeas, spider plants and rubber plants. But stick to standard plant food for plants that prefer alkaline conditions.

If you ask us, watering plants regularly and using some standard feed has fewer risks than using tea. You could also end up over-feeding your plants by using tea as it's more difficult to gauge the levels of nutrients plants are absorbing than measuring out a capful of feed.

tea leaves

(Image credit: Getty)

Lifestyle blogger and gardening enthusiast Becky, tells us that she waters her plants with a mix of black tea, cinnamon and porridge oats that she leaves to soak in water overnight. 'Since doing this ALL my plants have gone nuts! 

'One plant has grown over 20cm in 3 weeks!' she says. While this particular cheap garden idea might sound a little bonkers at first, gardening is all about finding what works for you. It could be that your plants enjoy tea as much as we do.

Millie Hurst
News Writer

Millie Hurst has worked in digital journalism for five years, having previously worked as a Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team in early 2021, working across several brands, including Gardeningetc. Now, she is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles aimed at inspiring people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces.