COPFEA ARABICA (coffee plant)

13 deg C/55 deg F

Seed of this species is now commonly sold by seedsmen for home growing, but it needs a temperature of 26 deg C/79 deg F for germination. However, this can usually be done on a window-sill during summer. Coffea arabica is interesting because it is the plant from which coffee is obtained. It is native to the Ethiopian highlands and the name arabica probably arose because it was first extensively used as a beverage in Arabia. As a houseplant it is mainly a curiosity. Its foliage is not outstanding, although attractively dark green and glossy, and in average room conditions it is hardly likely to produce its clusters of white. fragrant flowers which open for only 12 hours. The red berries contain the coffee beans of commerce. Seedlings and young plants that come on to the market should be potted in small pots holding an acid compost, and the same compost can be used for subsequent potting. In a warm, humid greenhouse the plant may grow more vigorously.

It is often successful in centrally-heated homes, provided the air is not too dry. Give a position in good light, with slight shade during summer. Spraying the leaves with water from lime to time during the summer will keep them shiny and encourage growth. The best cultivar for use as a houseplant is ‘Nana’, the dwarf coffee plant.

Given congenial warmth, the coffee plant rarely has any problems. Chill causes leaf yellowing and fall, and gradual general deterioration.

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