Coffee bean plants, the botanical name ‘Coffea arabica’, are rather rare sights inside the home. Most will associate coffee with cafes and morning routines, where it is stored as ground coffee or as roasted beans.
However, it’s still possible to have a coffee plant at home, complete with red coffee fruit, although the fruit only shows if the plant is cared for correctly. Not only is coffee plant care easy when your know-how, but the plant itself can also be a lovely addition to the household.
Types of coffee bean plants
Coffee arabica, native to south-western Ethiopia, is one of the most important of the coffee bean plant species, of which there are around 60 in total. It grows to brandish a single stem as a young plant and gets bigger and bushier as it matures.
When housed in a pot or container, it can grow to an impressive height of 150 cm – considerably less than the 15 feet tall that it can climb in its tropical habitat. Should you need to keep its size in check, pruning harshly will not harm your coffee plant, although it’s unlikely you’ll need to trim the evergreen plant at all.
When in bloom, it boasts radial, pure white, and slightly fragranced blossoms that develop in the leaf axil of the side shoots. With the right care, the first blossom is to be expected after four to eight years.
It’s therefore a plant for the green-fingered enthusiast as it certainly takes a lot of love, care, and effort to reach this point in its life unless you buy a plant that has already matured. You can purchase plants from online florists, many of which are available for the same and next day delivery.
Coffee bean plant care
After successful seeding, it’s hugely important to follow the correct steps when it comes to caring for the coffee bean plant. In fact, its livelihood comes down to the right tending. Homegrown coffee can only be harvested if the grower is able to get the plant to blossom, which is when the red coffee cherries begin to develop.
Why location matters
Coffea arabica is partial to a location that allows for light to the semi-shady environment. This plant also enjoys an airy space, where the temperature is between 20°C to 25°C. These plants are also very sensitive to cold, while direct sunlight should be avoided at all costs, especially around midday, as this can cause the leaves to burn.
During the winter months, it can survive in slightly cooler temperatures. To thrive, coffee bean plants also require high humidity. This can be achieved by daily spraying or by placing your coffee plant on a water-filled pebble tray.
The soil should be airy, permeable, and slightly sour with a pH-number measuring between 5.5 and 6.5. Some expert growers recommend that you sprinkle the soil with a little lemon juice every now and again. Alternatively, flower soil on a compost base or common rhododendron soil can be used.
To avoid water-logging, it’s important to make sure the drainage is very good. To help the growth process, you can add fine cobbles or expanded clay aggregate to the soil, as this can enhance drainage.
Propagation of plants
To ensure healthy and vibrant plants, it is vital that propagation boasts fresh seeds, as their germination ability usually disappears four weeks post the harvest.
For the best results, the seeds need to be exposed. To do this, crack the seed shells of the red berries. Surrounding the seed, there is a small silver skin that must be removed. After that, you should place them into warm water that is between 25°C – 30°C and leave them overnight.
To stop the water from cooling down, you can either use a Thermos bottle, cover the water container, or place it onto or near a radiator overnight. This is when the seed can begin to grow and to give them the best chance of success, you should look to follow these steps:
- Place the seeds onto the seeding compost or alternatively, onto a mixture of turf and sand
- You must then cover the seeds with around one cm of the compost
- Make sure the compost is slightly damp and keep it evenly moisturized during its entire germination
- It is important to always use chalk-free or at least water with low chalk levels
- The perfect temperature is between 25°C – 35°C
- Place in a semi-shady location that is protected from the noon sun
- Germination can take up to two months when the seeds are placed at a room temperature
- Spray the leaves of the young plant on a regular basis
- The plant can be repotted in a smaller container once it is strong enough
Coffee bean plants are often in plentiful supply between the spring and autumn. It is important to remember that young plants require more water than mature plants. The soil should be slightly moist and never completely dry. Before every pouring, it is recommended to let the upper layer of the soil dry out completely.
The plant does not do well being too moist or too dry. During the summer months, it’s wise to pour a little more often or water the plants more than usual.
From the months of March/April through to September, the coffee plant must be fertilized every two weeks. It is important to use an organic complete or liquid fertilizer in contrast to mineral fertilizer, as this ensures that the soil does not get too salty. Newly purchased shrubs or plants that have just been repotted shouldn’t be fertilized in the first year.
Once you learn the ropes of how to care for these shrubs, coffee bean plants make great houseplants. They are said to be among the hardiest of houseplants to grow and are relatively simple to maintain once the initial stages of growth are complete. Because of this, they are suitable for both experienced and amateur gardeners.