Coffee Grounds, Pest Control, Landscaping and the Sago Palm

Using coffee grounds in the garden on plants can be a possible pest solution for a handsome yet rugged plant like the Sago palm in the landscape. In reality it is not a palm at all but a cycad.
The Sago can be used indoors as well. Over the last few years the Asian cycad scale has wiped out a very large percentage of the old established cycad plants in the Florida landscape. Chemical pest control has not worked very well.

With the “green push” being made on everything from solar lighting, water use, building materials it’s sad plants do not seem to fall into the overall “green boom” or discussion.

I recently read an article in one of the ag magazines with intrigued me very much – plus it’s all natural.

sago palm cycas revoluta

Tom Broome in Lakeland, Florida the owner of The Cycad Jungle could not sit still and watch all these cycads decades old find their demise from the Asian scale. As all good growers do he tested and played.

After some observation and reading he decided to try a favorite morning beverage to battle the scale and it wasn’t milk! Tom used coffee grounds! Growing coffee is organic and has been used in gardens for decades.

He first tried controlling some scale and mealy bugs. Within days the results were in – death to the mealy’s and scale.

The problem is when you get on a larger scale drinking that much coffee to get enough coffee grounds is impossible. However, he found the local Starbucks as the perfect place for excess coffee supply.

Basically he mulched large Sago’s with coffee and the plants recovered.

I like the idea so much I decided to try it out on some neighbor’s cycads to see what happens. Maybe you should give coffee a look as a natural pest control option like neem insecticide.

One thing you may want to try is to make yourself a “coffee tea” by letting the coffee cook in the sun just like sun tea is made but do it for a few days… then try spraying some outdoor plants with it.

Great more ways to enjoy Java!

What about as a Fertilizer?

Question: Are coffee grounds of much value as a fertilizer?

Answer: Coffee grounds have little actual fertilizer value. They do, however, add organic matter to the soil and enough grounds help to make it friable. Their reaction to the soil is slightly acid.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott July 2, 2010 at 8:35 am

I’ve known Tom for years, but I have never discussed using coffee grounds to get rid of that pesky Asian Cycad Scale. A local bamboo buddy of mine had some sagos that he was going to rip out due to the scale, but after hearing of the coffee grounds trick from a horticulturist at the Jacksonville Zoo he decided to try it. Much to our surprise it worked, and worked well!

Needless to say that I now save all the coffee grounds from work, and most of my bamboo and cycads get a regular dose of coffee to keep away that pesky scale and mealy bugs!

Brigitta August 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I purchased a sago palm a few weeks ago and repotted it in a larger container(average potting soil). It has developed a pale yellow coloring in the center of some of the fronds. Is this a sign of lack of a specific nutrient ? Soil acidity ? Sun burn (it was in a greenhouse in the garden center and is now exposed to full sun) ? A problem with chlorine (the plant sits alongside our pool) ?

marg February 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I just discovered that the leaves on the underside of my sago palm are infested with small shiny round brown scales that look like insect pods. I had to cut off most of the leaves. They were yellowing and not looking healthy. I sprayed the remaining with an organic pesticide but don’t know what it is or what else to do. The plant is 3 years old but has barely grown.