Coffee plants produce not only the all-important coffee bean, but they make terrific houseplants too. In their native tropical habitat, coffee plants grow up to 15 feet (4.5 m.) or more, so pruning a coffee plant is integral when growing them indoors.
Information on Coffee Plants
Before we explore how to prune a coffee plant, a little background on Coffea arabica is in order. A member of the Ruiaceae family, one of 90 in the genus Coffea, the coffee plant is an evergreen, perennial shrub with dark green, glossy leaves decorated with ruffled edges and pleasantly aromatic white blossoms. Grow this specimen as an attractive houseplant, or if you aren’t shy on patience, for its fruit, which will take about four years to produce anything approximating a decent cup of coffee.
Hailing from Southern Asia and tropical regions of Africa, temperatures should be kept at 70 F. (21 C.) or higher during daylight hours and in the mid to lower 60’s (15-20 C.) at night with a good dose of humidity. Make sure the plant has well-draining soil, filtered sun, and moderate (never soggy) irrigation.
Although coffee plants will produce fruit without fertilization, for the most optimal fruiting and quality, they should be fed every two weeks from March to October and thereafter each month. A soluble, all-purpose type of fertilizer is recommended for use.
Coffee plants can be obtained through most online nurseries. Purchase the cultivar Coffea arabica ‘Nana’ if you desire a plant with more compact growth, thus reducing the necessity and frequency of cutting back on coffee plants.
How to Prune a Coffee Plant
Due to their ability to attain a height of between 10 and 15 feet (3-4.5 m.), not manageable in most homes, pruning of coffee houseplants is a necessity, not an option. Never fear; pruning coffee plants indoors is a simple process. When cutting back the coffee plant, remember this plant is very forgiving, and pruning back harshly won’t harm the plant at all.
When pruning a coffee plant on a commercial plantation, trees are kept down to an easy-to-harvest 6 feet (1.8 m.). This may be too large for your home and may necessitate more severe pruning of coffee plants indoors.
Pruning a coffee plant may only require minimal pinching of new growth or it may involve cutting the plant way back. Pinching back the plant will not only restrain the tree’s height but will encourage a bushier appearance.
The coffee plant should be pruned back during the spring months to maintain a fuller, bushy appearance and generally shape the plant. Using clean, sharp pruning shears, cut the stem at a 45-degree angle, ¼-inch (6.4 mm) above where the leaf attaches to the stem (axil), paying attention to top growth to retard size. Remove any suckers at this time as well as any dead or dying limbs while leaving the largest branches.
Cuttings taken from the plant during pruning are difficult to propagate; however, if you want to make the attempt, use the young stems prior to hardening.
Coffee plants make an easy, attractive plant that with a minimum of care you will be enjoying for many years.