Ask a Question forum: coffee grounds & tobacco insecticide

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Name: Colleen
Edgewood, NM (Zone 5b)
Live Long & Prosper.
Seed Starter
Oct 20, 2016 7:09 PM CST
Was reading online about using coffee grounds & tobacco to make a sprayable insecticide to kill off all the bad bugs but not kill off the bees, which I really like. OK my question is... Do you use Used coffee grounds or does it need to be fresh coffee grounds? Also, are there other recipes like this? Thanks for any info on this.
Happy Gardening :-)
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Oct 20, 2016 7:14 PM CST
I have never heard of that before. I know people use coffee grounds in their compost piles but have never heard of spraying coffee or nicotine on plants to repel insects. My concern would be that if you used this concoction in copious amounts, you would affect the soil Ph and leach calcium. I don't know if this is true - just my thoughts.

I'm sure nicotine would kill bugs, it does a good job killing people.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

[Last edited by DaisyI - Oct 20, 2016 7:15 PM (+)]
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Name: Colleen
Edgewood, NM (Zone 5b)
Live Long & Prosper.
Seed Starter
Oct 20, 2016 7:30 PM CST
I came across the article/recipe on facebook. I was hoping to get more info or opinions from other gardeners here. If its permitted, I can post the whole article. Just know I didn't write it.
Happy Gardening :-)
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
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Oct 20, 2016 7:30 PM CST

Plants Admin

Tobacco might not be good for your plants either. I know smokers who wash their hands before they handle their tomato plants so they won't transfer tobacco mosaic virus to the tomatoes. That might be an old wives' tale. I don't know.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
Oct 20, 2016 7:50 PM CST
Easy to find links about this idea, here's one

In this one, you're making a water-alcohol- soap spray, which we know to be effective without adding tobacco and caffeine. So I don't know if we can say the tobacco and caffeine are needed.
and- Has anyone heard of capsaicin in insecticide? Or are they just taking a shotgun approach, adding some thing used in other repellants (for animals)?
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
Grace of the Lord Jesus be with all
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Oct 20, 2016 8:01 PM CST
I agree with Zuzu. I would not use any tobacco or tobacco product in my garden. Tobacco mosaic virus is one of the oldest plant viruses and infects many different types of plants. I would not want to take the chance, I do not even grow Nicotiana for that reason. May your life be full of joy!
One to take to heart....1 John 4
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
Oct 20, 2016 8:04 PM CST
Nicotinoids , used by plant breeders are supposed to be harmful to honeybees. I don't know what the concentration might be, but it does get into the plant tissue. I would do more investigation before using it. Capsaicin would be a deterent to some critters, but I don't think it kills anything. I could be wrong on that.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Oct 21, 2016 6:49 AM CST
Nicotine has a long history of use as an insecticide and, at least in some formulations, can actually be more toxic than many "chemical" pesticides. I'm pretty sure I remember my grandfather using it 50-60 years ago. He was a smoker also so the transmission of tobacco/tomato mosaic viruses from the tobacco were also a potential issue for him. Here is a clip from a master gardener article on organic pesticides:

"Nicotine, extracted from tobacco or related Nicotiana species, is one of the oldest botanical insecticides, but it’s also one of the most toxic to warm-blooded animals and therefore is NOT allowed under federal standards for organic production (and as of 2014 no nicotine products will be registered for use in the US). Nicotine sulfate is readily absorbed through the skin but breaks down quickly. (DANGER or WARNING, depending on formulation)."


Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Oct 21, 2016 10:17 AM CST
I have added used coffee grounds but I added it to the soil, said to repel snails and slugs. But I did not spray it on the plant. Did it have an effect...hmm, I think so observing the plants I have it in did not get badly mutilated like they used to by snails or slugs, but my observation is not too conclusive since our wet period is so short here.

As for capsaicin, I add a few drops of tabasco sauce to my homemade spray if I really want to get rid of those aphids, it worked faster.

No idea on the tobacco one.

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