Our beloved coffee beans come from a very resilient and beautiful plant. Coffee plants grow best in hot and humid tropical regions. However, coffee can be a houseplant in practically any part of the world!
As I said, this is a resilient plant. Given some care and attention, it will happily thrive as a houseplant. Experienced and novice gardeners alike can enjoy watching this plant grow, as they learn how to grow coffee beans at home. It does need some care, but this isn’t a very demanding or maintenance-intensive plant.
Here’s how you can go about growing your own coffee plant at home.
Start With Seeds Or Potted Plants, Not Beans
That your average, roasted coffee bean won’t germinate is a no-brainer. So the natural alternative seems to be going for green (unroasted) coffee beans.
That isn’t the best option either.
It is quite possible that none of the beans germinate.
Coffee beans remain vital, or capable of germinating, for about four months from the date of picking. Unless you can be sure that the green beans you’re ordering are fresh, it’s better to buy coffee seeds. Essentially, these are green coffee beans, though with greater attention afforded to them remaining vital.
Start by soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours. After this, drain the water and place the seed one-inch deep in potting soil or wet vermiculite.
And now your wait begins.
Coffee seeds can easily take about 2 ½ months to germinate. Older seeds can take up to 6 months.
This is why I suggest skipping the sowing part, and getting a potted plant instead. That way, you won’t have to wait for the seed to germinate. Or worse, wondering if the seed will germinate.
Keep Your Coffee Plant Indoors, Away From Direct Sunlight
Unless you’re living in a tropical climate, there’s a very good chance that the coffee plant won’t appreciate the changes in temperature in your place. Seasonal changes, cold weather, intense heat, etc. are all threats to the coffee plant. Most of these problems become manageable once you bring the coffee plant indoors.
Keep your plant near a window, but in a way that it isn’t affected by direct sunlight. Coffee plants, even on plantations, prefer diffused sunlight. There’s also the option of placing the coffee plant inside a grow tent or greenhouse.
These options are useful in keeping the plant at a controlled temperature, so it becomes possible to grow a coffee plant at home. Being a tropical plant, coffee doesn’t quite appreciate cold weather.
Temperature staying consistently below 65F (18C) will negatively affect the plant. If you’re growing the plant in colder weather, pay special attention to ambient temperature. In winters, be sure to keep it away from drafts.
Watering And Repotting The Plant
Generally, coffee plants need repotting two times. The first is when the plant grows about 8-inches tall. The second comes when the plant is nearing two feet. In both cases, you’ll be moving the plant to a larger pot. Placing a small plant in an overly large pot isn’t recommended.
It is possible to skip the second repotting and keep the plant as it is. However, in this case, while the plant will display its lush foliage, it is unlikely to flower.
Pot the plant considering its unique requirements and native setting. Soil with a pH value of 6 should do just fine. Water your coffee plant enough to keep the soil moist, but there should never be pooling water. Good drainage helps keep good health for a coffee plant. As a houseplant, the coffee plant will require less water in the winter than the summer.
Another aspect to consider is humidity. Coffee plants like to have some humid air about them. It can be rewarding to place the pot on a water-filled pebble tray to ensure good humidity.
Coffee Plant Care And Maintenance
Apart from the things listed above, coffee plant care will also require regular pruning and fertilizing.
Pruning the plant is best handled during spring. The general idea is to control and direct the plant growth by managing its height and width. In many cases, you may not want the plant to outgrow its pot or take an unmanageable height.
In its conventional setting, a coffee tree can grow to be six feet tall. It might not always be desirable for a home plant to reach this size, so pruning gains more importance.
Also, this includes general maintenance like removing dead branches and fallen leaves.
If necessary, consider adding a balanced fertilizer for the plant. When you add fertilizer, check that its pH matches that of the soil in the pot. Spring and summer are good for adding fertilizer. It’s usually recommended to keep a gap of 2-3 months between each addition of the fertilizer.
Managing Expectations And Things To Know About Your Home Coffee Plant
Flowering And Maturity
Generally, a coffee plant matures in 3-5 years, at which point it will start flowering. Arabica coffee has white, scented, star-shaped flowers that are quite a sight. If these flowers are pollinated, you’ll eventually see the fruit (berries) forming. Since natural pollination of a home plant may not always be easy, you can help the process along through hand pollination.
Even if the berries are formed, it can take up to a year before they mature and are ready to give up their seeds, or coffee beans.
A coffee houseplant outside the tropics is unlikely to bloom with as many flowers as its counterpart on a plantation. But even those few flowers can be quite rewarding!
Keep The Plant Away From Children And Pets
Coffee beans? Yum. Every other part of the plant? Not nearly so. All parts of the coffee plant are toxic so exposure to pets and other animals should be prevented. Just in case you’re wondering, the plant is toxic for humans too when ingested.
While we enjoy the processed and roasted beans, the other parts of the coffee plant remain toxic. Even when you dispose of the leaves or branches from the plant, make sure they can’t be reached by pets and other animals.
Look Out For Pests And Disease
Checking for pests and disease is a no-brainer. Plus, home coffee plants, growing away from their natural areas can be at a greater risk of pests and disease. Regularly check your plant for any signs of either problem.
The plants can suffer from infestations of mealybugs, aphids, and mites. Signs include visible insects, white deposits, or small webs. To get rid of pests, start with the least toxic option. Starting with organic choices is a good way. Move to mildly toxic options if necessary.
How Much Coffee Will My Plant Grow?
Don’t expect a coffee houseplant to make you self-sufficient for your coffee needs! It’s likely that your houseplant will barely produce enough coffee for a full pot. Learning how to grow coffee beans at home is more about enjoying the journey and appreciating the plant.
The lush foliage of a coffee plant makes it a beautiful house plant. Enjoy the experience and appreciate the plant. You could enjoy a few cups of your homegrown coffee, but that’s about it!