Houseplant Spotlight: Coffee Tree
A coffee tree isn't just for producing coffee beans. This evergreen tree which doesn't lose its' leaves can grow up to 6' tall and produces tiny white clusters of flowers that smell sweet like jasmine. The coffee tree houseplant usually doesn't produce much fruit (beans) but that's fine by us because this exotic easy-to-grow plant stands out even without them.
A small coffee plant looks great on a desk or plant stand while a large one will stand tall and eloquent in the room.
Bright, indirect light is best. However, they do need lots of light to grow and will not do well in shaded areas. In their natural climate, they are found in the understory in sunny climates. The coffee tree can be put near a window but not directly in front of it. Full sun can cause leaf burn.
If you live in a colder climate, make sure your coffee tree isn't located near any drafts in winter. They cannot tolerate temperatures below 65F.
Soak the soil evenly without drowning it. Good drainage is extremely important because the roots of the coffee plant are susceptible to root rot if left too wet. Regular, frequent watering is necessary to encourage the plant to grow and flower. If the tree is wilting, it most likely needs more water.
A humid environment is best since that is what the natural environment for this plant is like. If humidity is a problem, place the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water. Brown edged leaves mean the room is too dry and the humidity needs to be increased for the coffee plant to thrive.
A balanced light fertilizer every month is best. In the winter, the fertilizer can be reduced to every other month or not at all.
If you would prefer your coffee plant to grow slower, only fertilize twice a year. Fertilize once in the spring and once in the summer. This is best for plants that are meant to remain on the smaller size, as desk or coffee table plants.
Slightly acidic soil is best; 6-6.5 pH is ideal. The roots of the coffee tree grow deep so make sure the pot is large enough and that the potting soil is high in humus content to support it.
Coffee trees grew originally in Ethiopia and Sudan. They love the shade and high altitudes where there is both a definite wet and dry season. A large majority of coffee trees are now being grown in Latin America. In the wild, the coffee tree can grow to 30' tall but is still considered to be a bush or shrub. They can live to be 100 years old.
As the coffee tree matures, it can be repotted to encourage growth. Every Spring, transplant it to the next pot size up if you want to see it grow tall. If you'd like to keep it small, keep it in a smaller pot and prune it regularly.
For a tall tree, transplant it to a 12-18” pot once it reaches 8” tall. When it gets to 24-36” tall, transplant it to its final large pot. A half-gallon wine barrel is a stunning and creative choice or uses something similar in size so the roots have enough room to spread out.