Coffee plants – Coffea arabica, it’s been a trading commodity for centuries and grown in Europe since the 1700′s.
Glossy, dark green, 4-5 inch leaves, dress this upright grower.
With good care and a mature plant, small clusters of tiny white flowers develop at the leaf joints of new growth.
As an extra plus, the tiny flowers produce a sweet jasmine like fragrance.
How About Coffee Beans?
After flowering the “fruit” turns red when it ripens in about 9 months, it can then be picked and dried. Inside each fruit are two “coffee beans” – which are the coffee seeds.
If you grow coffee indoors, the flowers will need to be pollinated by hand.
How To Grow Coffee – Your Own
To grow and harvest your own coffee, you would need to have a lot of beans for a good cup of “arabica.”
After the beans have dried, they would need to be roasted and ground before brewing.
Growing your own fresh brew will take some time as plants need to be 4 to 5 years old before they begin to bear fruit.
When growing coffee plants indoors “under cover” of a greenhouse or sunroom, plants can reach heights of 5 to 6 feet.
During summer, plants need bright filtered light. The type of lighting a plant would get behind a sheer curtain-filtered or morning light.
Plants will grow fine under ordinary room temperature, night temperatures should stay above 60. Plants can “hold up” with winter temperatures of around 60 degrees – power and problems can show up.
Coffee tree plants are beautiful plants to grow and can grow big as a houseplant. Throughout the growing season, feed plants with a half strength liquid fertilizer every other week.
However, their leaves are tender and thin, so put the plant in a location it will not be hit or brushed by traffic.
Indoors the plants will grows best where they receive early morning sun, otherwise keep the plant in a bright location away from direct sun.
Growing Coffee Outdoors in Summer
A coffee plant can grow outdoors during summer months on the patio of in the garden. However, if temperatures head below 64 degrees during their flower season do not expect fruit.
Much of the effort in plant care as far as watering coffee trees goes can be reduced by growing plants using sub-irrigation or installing an automatic plant watering system.
Check out this “diary” on growing coffee indoors.
Propagation – Cutting or Seed
Growing coffee from cuttings is no different then growing cuttings from other plants.
Spring is probably the best time to take cuttings, placing them into a well draining potting soil medium used for growing cactus and in addition mixing in 20% perlite. Roots should develop in roughly 4 to 6 weeks.
Growing from seed is another possibility, but many times the seedling quality is not the best.
Using the same soil mix as used for cuttings, trying to keep soil temperature between 72 – 77 degrees.
After the seeds germinate, repot into new pots and grow the seedlings as described above.
Make a Little “Coffee Greenhouse”
While roots are forming on your plants, create a mini-greenhouse.
Some people will loop a wire into a pot, cut small air holes in a plastic bag. Place the bag over the wire and tie it around the pot.
Personally, I like using a 2 liter soda bottle. Cut the top off the bottle. Punch a few holes in the bottom and slide the bottle over the pot, creating a small greenhouse.
Pest and Problems
Coffee plants are very robust houseplants, most problems are usually due to cultural errors.
Green leaves dropping off – This condition occurs when plants are kept too dark. MOve to a brighter location, but not in direct sunlight.
Brown, dead leaf edges -
This often happens when plants are often placed in to too much sun. Look for a spot with more shade. If the leaves are completely brown, cut them off.
Dried out and withering leaves – Check the temperatures… usually they are too high. Move to a cooler location and keep an eye on watering. During spring and summer keep the plant evenly moist.
Leaves lose their glossly look – Usually an indication of too much direct sunlight. Move to a shadier location… an east facing window is good.
Mildew – Show its face by causing fluffy gray or white deposits on the leaves.
Fungus infections can usually be controlled by reducing water, but do not allow the plant dry out. Major outbreaks require a fungicide spray like captan sprayings two times 8 days apart.
Scale – Usually hides under the leaves. Minor attacks can be handled with alcohol and a cotton swab.
Overall caring for coffee plants is not that difficult. Making them thrive is as easy as making sure the plant gets water and food and is buffered from blazing sun.
Because it thrives indoors, the rich, dark green, glossy leaves and easy culture make growing a Coffee tree as an indoor plant one to consider.
There are many varieties of “coffee” used in brewing like “columbian” or kona coffee. Also, there are several types of coffee plants available to grow: the well know Coffea arabica plant, and also the dwarf Coffea arabica ‘Nana’ – it is much smaller and grows much slower.