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Posted on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6 a.m.

Is watering house plants with tea a good idea?

By Jim and Janice Leach

My late mother-in-law was an inveterate indoor gardener and tea drinker.

Watering with Tea.jpg

Janice Leach | Contributor

Mom could grow just about anything. In her care, any leaf that dropped soon took root and found itself in a pot of its own or cozying up and sharing a pot with an established plant. Every holiday plant outlived “normal” expectations. Her potted plants thrived. The plant populations of terrariums did so well that they needed to be transplanted. \\Mom was able to keep more than 100 plants at a time green and growing, and she was always ready to divide and share her plants.

When she moved out of her big house and into an apartment, she went through serious deliberations about how to cut back from the whole gang to a smaller representation of her favorites. “Extra” plants were donated to her colleagues who were still teaching to brighten up their classrooms. It turned out to be a fairly big chore for her to transport her gifts to various classrooms in different school buildings.

Even in apartment living, she often had more plants than windowsills to put them on. Mom just couldn’t help growing great plants.

One of her tricks was to water her house plants with leftover cold tea. Mom drank a lot of tea, and she liked it piping hot. Later, usually the next day, she used any tea left in the pot or cup to water her plants. She said it was good for them.

It’s a habit that I’ve picked up. Even though a cursory internet search hasn’t yielded any solid evidence about the benefits of using tea for watering plants, I plan to keep up the habit. My plants seem happy enough. Just as important, it makes me happy to remember a favorite gardener and tea-drinker as I tend my indoor garden.

Jim and Janice Leach tend a backyard plot in downtown Ann Arbor, where they try to grow as many vegetables and other plants as possible. For the last five years, they've published gardening tips, photos and stories at their 20 Minute Garden website.


Linda Gaylard

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

Tea is rich in Nitrogen which is a booster for leafy plants. Perhaps that is what helped. You can also put tea leaves around rose bushes and other plants outside in the garden.

glenn thompson

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

Ann Arbor city water is too high a pH for most plants. The light acidity of the tea would reduce the pH and might benefit the plants.