Tea Leaves as Compost – A Free Soil Enhancer.
Tea leaves are a great source of organic material for gardens and compost piles or heaps. You can compost tea leaves as fertilizer in the compost bin, or sprinkle loose leaf tea from tea bags around plants. Using tea leaves in compost adds a nitrogen-rich component to the compost, balancing the carbon-rich materials. Using tea leaves for plant growth will nourish the plant and aid in moisture retention and weed repression.
Tea as Compost: Use the loose tea leaves brewed in your teapot, or cut open used tea bags and place the leaves in your compost bucket or bin. Some tea bags do not decompose, so it is preferable to remove the bags and use only the tea leaves. You can also spread brewed tea leaves directly on the ground around the base of your plants. Tea leaves contain all the big three nutrients (NPK – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) as well as some trace minerals, and is ideal for ACID-LOVING PLANTS. To test your soil, buy a soil pH testing kit, and measure the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. Neutral is 7, above 7 is alkaline, and below is acidic. Acid loving plants prefer a soil pH of about 5.5, which enables them to absorb the nutrients they need to flourish.
A prominent figure in the world of gardening and natural health, Margaret Roberts, used ROOIBOS tea for composting. She said Rooibos makes a fantastic natural fertilizer as it contains nutrients and trace minerals beneficial to plant growth. JJ van Rensburg, a well known South African gardener, says that contrary to the belief that all tea makes the soil ACIDIC, Rooibos doesn’t.
Is Tea Really a Good Fertiliser for Pot Plants?
Dried tea leaves contain nitrogen (promotes leafy growth), phosphorus and potassium. There is significantly more nitrogen in tea leaves than in most liquid pot plant fertilisers which are formulated for healthy, balanced growth. Other elements in tea (aluminium, fluorine and manganese) could be harmful to your plants. Used tea leaves are best added to your compost heap and not used directly on your potted plants.
Popular Plants that Benefit from Acid Soil:
Azaleas – flowering bush, flowers in the last part of spring or early part of summer.
Begonia – easy to grow with bright, beautiful flowers.
Camellias – bush that blooms in spring.
Daffodils – bulbs with yellow flowers. Among the top acid-loving garden flowers.
Heathers – ideal for edging walkways and other areas, and producing flowers that are loved by pollinators.
Holly – produces red berries in winter.
Hydrangeas – when grown in very acidic soil, it changes the colours of the blooms.
Iris – easy to care for perennial, blooms in purple, blue and white.
Japanese Pieris (Pieris Japonica) – dark-leaved evergreen perennial plant, grown mainly for their leaf colours which are really showy in the spring.
Magnolia – small tree with pink or white blooms.
Nasturtium – annual with yellow, orange or red flowers.
Rhododendrons – evergreen bush or hedge that blooms in summer.
Some types of Fern – ferns generally prefer shady gardens with acidic soil.