Updated May 6, 2022 by Mark Marino
Did you know that the plant that gave the world coffee also makes a great houseplant? Coffea arabica, aka the coffee plant, is native to the Ethiopian Highlands, but it’s now cultivated in many parts of the world. Because of its vibrant green and glossy foliage and delicate white flowers, the coffee plant has become a popular houseplant. Easy to care for and long-living, indoor coffee plants won’t produce enough beans to fuel your morning coffee ritual, but these vigorous growers will produce flowers and green fruits after a few years. Learn how to grow coffee plants indoors with the following tips.
Coffee Plants: Overview
There are two main types of coffee plants: Coffea arabica and robusta coffee. Coffea arabica coffee plants are the most commonly grown–and they account for most of the coffee the world consumes. In the wild, a coffee plant can live as long as 80 years! However, most coffee plants grown commercially will live 20-30 years. When cared for in your own home, you can expect your coffee plant to live for many years given the proper care and growing conditions.
Your own coffee plant won’t flower or produce beans until it becomes a mature coffee plant–after three or four years. Of course, most people don’t grow coffee plants indoors to produce coffee beans for consumption. Once produced, the coffee cherry adds an eye-catching element to these attractive flowering plants. In some cases, coffee plants can reach up to seven feet indoors, but most indoor coffee plants can be maintained at your desired size in their pot with regular pruning.
A special note: coffee beans are the only edible parts of coffee plants. Every other part of the coffee tree plant is toxic to humans and pets. Be sure your coffee plants grow out of reach from young children and pets.
Grow Coffee Plants Indoors
As hardy houseplants, coffee plants are not difficult to grow indoors. You can find seedlings online or at some local garden centers. To grow for your own coffee plant, keep the following tips in mind:
A 10-inch pot is a good pot size for your young coffee plant. You can start your coffee plant in a small pot with a good drainage provided it has enough space to allow for plant growth. Proper drainage is crucial for maintaining the health of your coffee plant. While this plant loves plenty of water, it does not care to have its roots sitting in water. Because the coffee plant prefers its soil moist routinely, you might want to avoid using pots such as terra cotta which are porous.
Too much sun is not ideal for coffee plants. Do not grow coffee plant pots in direct sunlight. Too much direct sunlight will cause your coffee plant to develop brown leaves. Indirect light or filtered light is ideal for growing coffee plants.
Acidic, well-draining soil is best for growing coffee plants. Choose a potting mix with peat moss and, again, make sure it has good drainage. Without proper drainage, your coffee plant roots can develop root rot.
Grow coffee plants indoors with a routine watering schedule. Coffee plants are water lovers. You should never allow the soil in your plant’s pot to become totally dry. It’s best to keep the pot’s soil moist at all times–but not waterlogged. Be sure you provide your coffee plants with ample watering during their growing season; during the late fall and winter months, you can water them somewhat less.
The ideal temperature range to grow coffee plants indoors is 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, they prefer temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Coffee plants should not be exposed to freezing temperatures. Coffee plants also thrive in high humidity. To ensure your plant gets the humidity it needs, you can mist it between waterings.
Choose a weak liquid fertilizer for your coffee plants. You only need to feed these plants every few weeks. You do not need to fertilize it during the winter months.
Coffee Plant Care Routine
To maintain your coffee plant, you can prune it each spring. Annual pruning ensures it grows lush foliage. You may also need to repot your coffee bean plant each spring depending on its growth. When your coffee plants reach maturity, they may develop white flowers and then coffee cherries that turn into green coffee beans. In order to get the white flowers to produce coffee beans, you may have to hand pollinate them.
To keep your coffee plant healthy, be sure to monitor it for scale insects and other common pests that plague indoor plants. Fungal diseases that produce brown spots on foliage can be a problem for some plants, so be sure your coffee plant has good air circulation.
Coffee Plant Care FAQs
How long does it take a coffee plant to bear fruit?
Coffee plants do not produce coffee beans until the plants reach maturity after about three to four years.
Can I grow a coffee plant indoors?
You can grow a coffee plant indoors using the care tips outlined above.
How do you grow a coffee plant?
Grow coffee plants by placing their pots in indirect light. Be sure they have regular watering and well-draining soil for best results.