Are you considering growing your own coffee seedlings at home? Whether you are an experienced gardener or have no gardening skills whatsoever, growing coffee seedlings at home is perfect for both the novice and the pro. If you’re interested in growing coffee seedlings as your next houseplant, you have come to the right place. Read on to learn how to grow your own coffee seedlings and easy tips for planting them.
How to Grow a Coffee Plant at Home
Because coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, it is no wonder why many people are now growing their own coffee at home. Not only is homegrown coffee healthier to drink, but it has been reported to even taste better. What’s more, coffee plants can be grown just like any other houseplant, requiring water, indirect sunlight, proper temperature, and soil. Below, let’s dive into the details of growing coffee seedlings either inside or outdoors.
Find the Perfect Environment
The first step to growing coffee seedlings at home is finding the ideal environment for them. In general, it is best to mimic their natural habitat found on a tropical, mid-elevation mountainside, where they benefit from plenty of water, high humidity, relatively cool temperatures, and slightly acidic soil.
Because most of these necessities can easily be achieved at home, coffee seedlings are commonly grown in a pot indoors. Because coffee plants are understory plants (meaning they grow under the forest canopy in the wild), they prefer indirect sunlight. When growing a coffee plant indoors, it is best to place them near a window that does not receive full sun.
In addition to receiving adequate sunlight, it’s important that coffee plants are grown at the correct temperature. Ideally, the optimal temperature for coffee seedlings is between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 to 70 degrees at night. Temperatures higher than this may increase the plant’s growth but is not ideal for growing coffee beans. The fruits need to ripen at a slow pace.
Finally, consider the humidity level of your coffee plant’s growing environment. Because coffee plants grow in a tropical climate, they tend to thrive in high-humidity conditions. For best results, grow your coffee plant at a humidity level of 50 percent or higher. If grown in a more dry climate, the plant’s leaves will eventually turn brown. To prevent this from happening, mist the leaves daily to raise the humidity level.
Prepare Your Pot with Soil
Once you’ve found the perfect location for your coffee plant, the next step is choosing a pot and filling it with soil. Because coffee plants can reach up to 6 feet tall, you will likely need to step up the pot size a couple of times. As you get ready to plant your coffee seedlings, the best pot size is a 4-inch pot. Make sure the container has several holes to ensure proper drainage.
After selecting the perfect size pot, you will need to fill the container with soil. Because coffee plants prefer acidic soil, it is best to use a rich, peat-based potting mix. If the plant does not appear to be thriving on the soil, increase the soil pH by adding more organic matter. The ideal pH range is 6 to 6.5, although coffee plants will still grow in soil with a pH range of 4 to 7.
Choose the Type of Coffee Bean
The next step is choosing the species of coffee to plant. The most common types of coffee that you are likely familiar with are Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. What you may not be aware of is that there are more than a hundred different varieties of coffee to choose from. Each type has a distinct flavor and caffeine level.
While each type of coffee has its own unique advantages, the Arabica is the most common variety for planting. Not only is Arabica extremely easy to grow, but it tends to grow much better for gardeners outside of the tropics. Once the Arabica fruits are ready to harvest, you can enjoy a rich coffee with hints of sugar, nuts, and berries.
The ideal time to plant coffee seedlings is in the spring. If you’d rather grow a coffee plant from seed, make sure you use unprocessed coffee beans. Do not use coffee beans from coffee shops or stores, as they are normally treated and roasted.
Care for Your Coffee Plant
Once you’ve planted the coffee variety of your choice, you’ll need to regularly water and fertilize the plant. Coffee plants are water-lovers and therefore will need watering at least once a week. Never allow the soil to completely dry out. The soil should always remain moist yet never waterlogged.
Throughout the growing season, coffee plants should be given a weak liquid fertilizer. Feed the fertilizer to your coffee plant about every two weeks when watering the plant. During the winter months, cut the fertilizer back to once a month.
Repotting Your Coffee Plant
Because the average coffee plant may grow up to several feet high, you will eventually need to transplant the coffee tree to a larger pot. Generally, once your coffee plant reaches the height of 8 inches in a 4-inch pot, it is ready for repotting. Because the plant will need to spread out its root system, stepping up to a 10-inch pot is recommended. Once the plant reaches 24 to 36 inches in size, it is ready for a 14-inch or larger pot.
As the coffee tree continues to increase in size, you have the option of pruning the branches. Pruning is healthy for coffee trees and helps keep them a manageable size. In most cases, pruning involves pinching back any new growth. If the coffee plant requires heavy pruning, you may need to trim the branches or even prune the roots. When a coffee plant becomes too large for your home, you may need to restrict the pot size to discourage continued growth.
Depending on your climate, you may also consider transplanting your coffee tree outdoors. Remember to keep the soil moist and provide light shading with no direct sunlight. Even just three hours of direct sunlight during the late spring and summer can kill an established coffee plant.
Similarly, 10 minutes of frost can damage a potted coffee tree. If you live in a cold climate, it is best to bring your coffee plant inside during the winter months. Even after a coffee tree is well-established, it can be killed by extreme cold or frost.
Treating for Pests and Diseases
Although coffee plants are very robust houseplants, they may suffer from certain diseases or pests. The most common pests that infest coffee plants are mealybugs, aphids, and mites. Signs of infestation include tiny webs, white powdery residue, or visible insects on the plant’s leaves or stem. To prevent damage to the plant, treat infestations immediately with the least toxic treatment possible.
Other conditions to watch out for are dead leaf edges, dull leaves, and green leaves falling off. When a coffee plant’s leaves become brown and dried out, it is likely because the plant received too much direct sunlight. Cut off the dead leaves and move the pot to a bright area away from direct sunlight. In the same way, move your plant to a shady area if it loses its glossy appearance.
If green leaves begin falling off your coffee plant, it may be a sign of inadequate sunlight. Move the plant to a brighter location away from direct sunlight. An east window makes an excellent spot for growing coffee plants.
Keeping the soil moist is essential for the health of the plant. When insufficient water is given, the coffee plant may become dried out. Additionally, high temperatures can affect a coffee plant, causing its leaves to dry out. If you notice dry, withering leaves on your coffee tree, move the pot to a cooler area with plenty of shade. Make sure the soil is always kept moist and never becomes dry or waterlogged.
Harvest the Coffee Beans
Although coffee trees grow relatively fast, they do not flower for several years. In fact, coffee trees typically do not produce fruit for three to five years. After a coffee plant has matured, it will produce scented white blossoms. Six to eight weeks after pollination, a fruit known as the coffee cherry will appear. These cherries will be ready to harvest once they turn a bright, deep red color and are slightly soft to the touch.
After collecting the coffee cherries, the next step is removing the beans. This can be done by pulping the cherries in a bowl of water. Once all the inner beans are separated from the cherries, lay them on a wire mesh to dry. It may take several days or weeks for the skins to flake off. Once they do, the coffee beans are ready to be grounded in a coffee mill just like coffee from the store.
Tips for Growing Coffee Plants
Although coffee plants are not native to North America, they still make a wonderful plant for both the beginner and the expert. With the proper environment and care, coffee plants will flourish either indoors or outside. Here, we’ll take a closer look at additional tips for growing coffee plants at home.
Keep Children and Pets Away from Coffee Plants
All parts of the coffee plant are considered toxic to animals such as dogs, cats, horses, and birds. Even to humans, everything besides the coffee bean is toxic to eat, including the red cherries. For this reason, coffee plants should be kept away from young children and pets.
If you believe a pet or child has ingested any part of the coffee plant, call a poison control agency immediately. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, lack of appetite, and possibly irregular heart rate and seizures in severe toxicity.
Enjoy the Growing Process
Coffee plants can take several years to fully mature. If you are primarily focused on harvesting your own coffee beans, it can be disappointing when the plant doesn’t bear fruit for 3 to 5 years. Even when the plant does yield fruit, it may only produce a small number of coffee beans.
Because one coffee plant may not yield much fruit, it’s important to enjoy the entire growing process rather than only the harvesting of beans. Not only is growing coffee plants an enjoyable experience, but they can enhance your home’s appearance. Whether you plant your coffee tree inside your house or out on your patio, a coffee plant adds a welcoming feel and continuous beauty to homes.
Monitor the Coffee Plant’s Health
To maintain the health of your coffee plant, regularly check the stems and leaves for signs of disease or pests. Signs such as brown leaves or leaves falling off are common indicators of an issue in the plant.
In addition to watching for signs of infestation or disease, carefully monitor the climate your coffee plant is growing in. Too hot of temperatures will cause the leaves to dry, while too cold of temperatures can kill the plant. If your coffee plant experiences any changes in appearance, move it to a new location with a better growing environment. As always, continue to water the plant and keep it away from direct sunlight.
How Many Coffee Beans Will a Coffee Plant Produce?
If you’re considering switching over to homegrown coffee, you may be wondering how much a coffee plant will yield. Although indoor coffee plants are often for ornamental purposes only, they produce enough fruit for you to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee now and then.
Inside a coffee’s cherry are two beans. On average, a coffee plant will yield 4,000 coffee beans each year, or 2 to 3 pounds of coffee. Thus, if you desire to drink homegrown coffee on a regular basis, you may need to plant multiple coffee trees.
In summary, growing your own coffee seedlings can be an easy and enjoyable process. By providing your coffee plant with plenty of care, you can reap the benefits of homegrown coffee beans.