The same plant—Coffea arabica, better known as the coffee plant—that gives you your morning pick-me-up each day is also a beautiful, easy-growing houseplant. With its glossy, deep green foliage and upright growth habit, this low-maintenance tropical evergreen can add a breezy, tropical vibe to any space.
Coffee plants grown indoors will eventually produce small, fragrant white flowers after about five years with the right conditions. To produce bright red berries—each of which will produce two coffee beans—they must be pollinated by hand. So while it’s possible to grow a handful of your own coffee beans with the right conditions, it’s your best bet to appreciate your coffee plant for its lush greenery and ease of care.
Best Growing Conditions for Coffee Plants
The coffee plant’s natural habitat is in the understory of a warm, humid jungle, and that’s the climate they grow best in as houseplants, too. Its ideal temperature is over 65 degrees. Freezing temperatures can kill your coffee plant, so be sure to keep it in a warm place away from cold drafts.
Take care to pick a spot for your coffee plant that gets bright, indirect light or dappled light. Direct sunlight is too much for coffee plants. Brown spots on the leaves are one sign that your plant is getting too much sun. If this happens, move your coffee plant into a slightly shadier spot.
An easy way to create more humidity around your plant is to fill a shallow tray with a layer of pebbles, then add water in the tray to just below the top of the pebbles. Place your potted plant on top of the pebbles, making sure the bottom of the pot and the surface of the water don’t touch. The water in the tray will slowly evaporate, adding moisture to the air around your plant. You can also keep the coffee plant in your warm, steamy bathroom.
When choosing a spot to display your plant, take care to keep it well out of the reach of children and pets. With the exception of the mature coffee bean—the part we process and brew into coffee—all parts of the coffee plant are toxic to humans, dogs, and cats.
Group humidity-loving plants closely together; the collective moisture given off by the plants will increase the humidity for all of them.
How to Care for Your Coffee Plant
Keep the soil of your coffee plant consistently moist, but not soggy. Use a well-draining, slightly acidic soil mix so that the plant doesn’t get waterlogged. Check the soil at least once a week at first to establish a watering routine. When the seasons change, be sure to pay attention to the soil moisture, as your plant will probably need less water in the winter months than during the growing season.
Feed your coffee plant using standard houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength every two months or so during the spring and summer. When fall comes around, pause your feeding routine until the following spring. Keep in mind that coffee plants can grow up to eight feet tall, so if you plan to fertilize regularly during the growing season, make sure you have a large enough space to keep the tall houseplant that your coffee plant may grow into.
Plan on potting up your plant into a container one size larger each spring. You can help contain the size of your coffee plant by pruning back leaf growth around this time, pruning the roots each spring, and using a slightly smaller than usual pot, which will restrict its size. Spring pruning of the branches will also help your coffee plant develop fuller, bushier growth.
How to Propagate Your Coffee Plant
Sadly, you can’t plant a roasted or green coffee bean and hope to get a coffee tree. The easiest way to grow a new coffee plant is to propagate one using stem cuttings. To do this, you’ll need gardening shears or pruners, a small pot, fresh growing medium like a 50-50 mix of peat moss and perlite, rooting hormone powder, a pencil or chopstick, a clear plastic bag, and a healthy, mature coffee plant from which to take the cutting.
Step 1: Fill a small pot with fresh growing medium and moisten the soil well with water. Use the pencil or chopstick to poke a hole a few inches deep in the surface of the growing medium.
Step 2: Choose a straight, healthy stem a little under half and inch wide on the mother plant from which to take the cutting. The cutting should be around six inches long and have at least two leaves. Snip off the stem with a diagonal cut.
Step 3: Remove the leaves from the bottom third of the cutting. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone, then plant the cutting in the hole you made in the growing medium. Gently pat the soil around the cutting so that it stands up straight.
Step 4: Place the plastic bag over the cutting to hold in humidity. Insert the pencil or chopstick into the soil to hold the plastic bag away from the leaves of the plant if necessary. Put the cutting in a warm place with bright, indirect light.
Step 5: Keep the soil around the cutting well moistened and look for new leaves, which are a sign that the plant has rooted. This may take two to three months. When new growth has appeared, you can repot the plant into a slightly larger container and care for it as usual.