Are pennies good for soil? Here's what experts have to say about this latest plant hack

It's no secret that copper is good for plant growth, but is putting pennies in soil really an effective solution? Experts reveal all you need to know

Should you put pennies in soil?
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Plant hacks come and go, some tried and tested, others not so much. The latest on the scene is placing pennies in soil to boost nutrients. But how effective is it really?

Soil health is incredibly important for providing plants with nutrients that help them thrive and grow happily. That's why you'll observe plant fertilizers numbers showing how much nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is in plant food to add to your soil.

Copper is certainly among beneficial nutrients for soil and plants, but does putting pennies in soil really work? We've asked experts about this latest trend and they revealed all about whether pennies are good for soil.

Are pennies good for soil

(Image credit: Rutchapong via Getty Images)

Are pennies good for soil?

In short, the answer is no. Although experts recognize the benefits of copper for plant growth, placing pennies in soil is not an effective way to provide plants with nutrients or prevent fungus diseases.

While experts help to debunk this myth, they also share where pennies in the soil can, in fact, be beneficial.

Insufficient levels of copper in pennies

Apple tree seedling

(Image credit: Nadiamik via Getty Images)

Copper is known to support plants in a number of ways and it is certainly needed to boost soil nutrients. It helps with different plant processes, including producing chlorophyll which is required for photosynthesis and provides foliage with its green color. A copper deficiency in soil can make plants more immune to diseases, cause discoloring and effect growth.

However, experts say that the copper found in pennies is not sufficient enough to make a difference to soil health.

'While there are claims that pennies can slowly release copper into the soil and act as a natural fertilizer, I have not found any evidence to support this notion,' says Autumn Janus, plant expert from Perfect Plants.

'Modern pennies are made of copper-plated zinc, and the copper content in a single penny is fairly small,' she adds.

As a result, experts say it would take a very long time for pennies to make any difference in the amount of copper in soil. 'You would have to leave pennies in soil probably indefinitely, since there is such little copper in them,' says Julie Bawden-Davis, indoor plant expert at Healthy Houseplants.

Although, if you're looking for slug control methods, pennies might just be the trick.

'Copper serves as an effective deterrent for slugs, they feel a small shock when their skin contacts copper,' says Autumn. 'If you have older pennies with a higher copper content, you can partially bury them around the edges of your garden to create a barrier that may prevent slugs from entering,' she suggests.

Take care to not solely rely on this method, however, as planting slug repellent plants tends to be be much more effective.

Autumn Hilliard-Knapp
Autumn Janus

Autumn is a horticulture specialist and marketing professional at Perfect Plants Nursery. With four years of experience in the horticulture industry, she has developed a passion for helping people create beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces to enjoy. Her expertise in horticulture encompasses a broad range of activities, including plant care and selection, landscape design, and maintenance.

Julie Bawden-Davis
Julie Bawden-Davis

Julie Bawden-Davis is a garden author and University of California Certified Master Gardener, who has written several gardening books, including Indoor Gardening The Organic Way. In addition to running, she shares indoor gardening advice on her YouTube channel @HealthyHouseplants.

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How can I add copper to soil?

Copper is an essential micronutrient in soil that aids overall plant growth and health. A lack of copper in soil can lead to plants being more susceptible to diseases, a lack of chlorophyll production and a lack of growth. You can add copper to soil in a number of ways. This includes adding organic matter that is rich in copper to your soil and using copper-based fertilizers.

Adding pennies to soil might just be another one of those plant hacks that doesn't work too well in practice. While it's true that copper is an excellent resource for plants, it's unlikely that placing pennies in soil will make a substantial difference to overall soil health.

If you're looking for more DIY solutions to improve the quality of your soil, read what experts have to say about if coffee grounds are good for plants and discover some unusual compost ingredients that you might have lying around.

Tenielle Jordison
News Writer (Gardens)

Tenielle is a News Writer in the Gardens team at Homes & Gardens with five years of journalistic experience. She studied BA Journalism, Media and English Literature and MA Magazine Journalism at Cardiff University. Before coming to Homes & Gardens, Tenielle was in the editorial department at the Royal Horticultural Society and worked on The Garden magazine. She is passionate about sustainable living and likes to encourage gardeners to make greener choices to help tackle the effects of climate change with a trowel in hand. Tenielle is also a houseplant lover who is slowly running out of room for her ever-growing collection.