Home grown coffee plants: Part 1

by Lala

I spotted coffee plants while doing some midweek grocery shopping and of course I had to have them. I love a good cup of joe, and I’ve always wanted to try this plant out. A few years ago I spotted them at Margaret Roberts’ farm in Brits, but I didn’t have the space or time to do any gardening.

So here we are in early winter with a cold front coming…not the best time to buy a sub-tropical plant. I got some daffodils as well to brighten up these drab days ahead. I couldn’t find tulips anywhere at a reasonable price…I missed my chance to get them from Hadeco (expensive, but a big variety and with named cultivars) and now they’re all sold out over there. The tulips I’ve seen at garden centres lately are insanely expensive for three little bulbs in a plain container. If this years’ ranunculus and peonies do well in the garden, I think I’ll get some tulips as well next year.

Back to the beans, I plan to keep the coffee plants indoors on a sunny windowsill until the summer. They look suspiciously like my beleaguered Miracle Fruit trees, and the growing conditions seem similar (high humidity, forest floor with dappled sunlight). I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt during winter to get established. I will certainly not be placing them in a mini greenhouse and mollycoddling them as much as I do the Miracle fruit. That is just way too much effort for very little joy.

My long term plan is to plant them outside so they can get large enough to harvest a meaningful amount of berries from them in a couple of years. Some people do grow them indoors in large pots, and they look gorgeous with their dark glossy leaves. But I have dogs and a crawling baby. I think the potted indoor option will not end well for any of us.

The online tutorials and videos I’ve watched so far show that coffee trees are no fuss plants, that just need the basics and can be grown indoors as beautiful houseplants. The little tag from the store even says they “purify the air” although I don’t think they do that any better than most plants. I’ll have to look that up.

As for the variety and origin of the coffee, I don’t know. The tag just states “coffee plant”. I’m going to tweet the shop and ask if they can find out. It would be great to at least know the variety if not the origin. This should be a cool project if the plants are as easy going as they’re said to be. Let’s wait and see.

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