Any gardener who loves a cup of tea has probably wondered, "How do you recycle leftover tea and old teabags?" According to the Evanor Teas website, "Tea is high in nitrogen and contains minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc and even fluoride that are needed for healthy plants." And if you want to recycle, as well as give your plants a boost, tea just might be the way to go. So, don't throw it out! Instead, use it in the garden with these five easy ways to recycle leftover tea and old teabags.
Rev up azaleas and citrus trees
Because they love acidic soil, azalea and citrus trees will be happy with tea in any form. Water them with brewed tea, work tea leaves into the soil, or simply bury teabags at their base. They're not particular about how they get their cuppa tea!
Give ferns and gardenias a boost
Ferns and gardenias benefit from being watered with brewed tea. Pour left-over tea (or, if you want to go to the trouble, a newly brewed, cooled pot of tea) around the base of the plants for a quick boost.
Knock out snails and slugs
Tea mixed into the soil may also have another added benefit ... killing snails, slugs, and other pests. Why? Because of the caffeine that tea contains. A study that included the effect of caffeine on orchid snails, by Robert G. Hollingsworth, John W. Armstrong, and Earl Campbell, states, "... a 2% solution of caffeine proved to be more effective in reducing the presence of snails than a solution of 0.195% metaldehyde, the commercial standard for orchid-snail treatment."
Cure the indoor plants' doldrums
Houseplants looking a little peaked? Worried that they're in the doldrums? Since the soil to plant ratio is not as high as in the garden, be sure not to overdo it. Lightly work tea leaves into the soil and water well. The nutrients in tea will help them snap out of their blue ... er ... green funk!
Help keep the soil moist in potted plants
If -- like me -- you consistently forget to water potted plants when you should, this is a suggestion worth trying. Layer a few teabags (new or used) on top of drainage material when potting plants. This gives the plants a healthy boost and the bags helps the soil retain a little more moisture.
As with any additive in the garden, tea isn't a cure-all, and it can be overdone. The longer tea is brewed, the more acidic it may may become. According to the article, "Plants for Alkaline Soil" by Meghan Shinn, a number of plants -- including lilacs, pinks, and clematis -- don't like acidic soil. Consequently they, and other alkaline loving plants, may not benefit from the addition of tea or teabags.
However, there are all those other plants that do love it, so pour them a cuppa tea!
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