Coffee plant care: fertilising, pruning & more


I study landscape ecology and through my studies have discovered a love for plants. Plants are not only beautiful, but also have countless fascinating survival strategies. To bring a bit of nature into my home as well, I nurture my houseplants and herbs on every possible windowsill.

Favourite fruit: rhubarb and all kinds of berries
Favourite vegetables: onions and garlic

We all know coffee as the popular morning pick-me-up, but did you know the coffee plant is also becoming an increasingly popular houseplant? Keep reading to find out our top coffee plant care tips.

Ripe red coffee cherries
If you follow our coffee plant care tips, you too can have a healthy coffee plant [Photo: Chansom Pantip/]

In order for coffee plants (Coffea) to grow well, produce plenty of leaves and perhaps even coffee cherries, they need to be taken care of properly. There are various measures you can take to help your coffee plant thrive, such as proper watering and ensuring it is grown in a suitable location. Read on to find out how to properly care for coffee plants such as Coffea arabica.

Coffee plant care: water requirements

Coffee plants prefer water that is low in lime, ideally rainwater. Keep the soil is moist, but not wet. Never let the soil dry out. Use your finger to check whether your coffee plant’s soil is dry on the surface and whether you need to water it. In summer, coffee plants require more water than in the winter as it is lighter and warmer.

Tip: Coffee plants love high humidity! So, in addition to watering, mist your coffee plant regularly with lime-free water to up the humidity.

Wet coffee plant leaves
Coffee plants require a lot of water and love high humidity [Photo: krungchingpixs/]

Fertilising coffee plants

To ensure that your coffee plant grows healthily and produces beautiful leaves, flowers, and fruits, we recommend using a complete fertiliser, i.e. a fertiliser with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Using a slow-release fertiliser will ensure that the nutrients last for a long time and will save you from having to fertilise again and again. Our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food is well suited and provides coffee plants with all the nutrients they need for at least three months. Simply work the fertiliser into the substrate and the nutrients will gradually be released.

If you do use a slow-release fertiliser, remember to fertilise your coffee plant early in the spring so that it has enough nutrients available over the growing season. For larger plants and older soil, re-fertilise three months after the first fertilisation. To do this, work the fertiliser into the soil carefully or simply place it under the mulch layer. Then water the plant generously.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
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  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

If you prefer to use a liquid fertiliser, mix some into the water when watering and feed larger coffee plants using it about once a fortnight during the growing season.

Can you fertilise coffee plants with coffee grounds? Yes, you can! You can fertilise your coffee plant with coffee grounds twice a year (once in winter and once in spring). To do this, simply take one to two teaspoons of dried coffee grounds and work it into the soil. Coffee grounds will slightly acidify the soil and they also contain nutrients which the plant can absorb. However, coffee grounds cannot replace a complete fertiliser, so only use them as an added bonus for the plants.

Coffee plant with coffee cherries
With the proper care, your coffee plant may even begin to bear fruit [Photo: Greentellect Studio/]

Pruning: when and how often?

Although it is not necessary, you can prune back your coffee plant to give it a more branched and bushier appearance. Prune the coffee tree in spring before you start fertilising. Remove old, dead, and bare branches completely. Also remove the leaves that grow directly from the lower part of the trunk and cut off the healthy shoots above each leaf node. If you want to limit how high your plant grows, prune back the top of the main shoot. The coffee plant will then branch out and grow wider. Prune your coffee plant about every one to two years. Remove suckers if necessary. These are young shoots that grow vertically out of the old wood. They often sprout from the side of the trunk. You can use these shoots to propagate your coffee plant.

Person pruning coffee plants
To make the harvest easier, coffee plants in large plantations are cut back generously [Photo: Kaiskynet Studio/]

Repotting coffee plants

There are several reasons why you should repot your coffee plant regularly. Is the pot too small with the roots already growing out of the soil or the drainage hole? Does the substrate no longer absorb water well and has a soil crust formed on the surface? Or has the plant slowed down or stopped growing despite fertilisation? Then it is time to repot. This is usually the case every two to three years. Ideally, repot in the spring, as the coffee plant can then start the growing season with fresh soil and nutrients.

  • Choose a larger and taller pot with a drainage hole that provides enough space for the roots.
  • Lay a drainage layer consisting of stones or expanded clay at the bottom of the pot.
  • Add a layer of substrate. Coffee plants need a slightly acidic and humus-rich soil. Our Plantura Organic Flower Compost, for example, is an excellent option as it contains a lot of organic matter and has a suitable pH value of 6.5. To further increase the soil’s permeability, mix in 20% crushed expanded clay.
  • Free the coffee plant from its old pot, remove the substrate from the root ball and cut off any noticeably rotten or withered roots.
  • Place the coffee plant in the new pot and fill with soil.
  • Finally, water your newly repotted coffee plant.
Expanded clay balls at bottom of pot
A drainage layer at the bottom of the pot is very important for coffee plants [Photo: zaleskyphoto/]

Common diseases: brown leaves on the coffee plant

Like almost all houseplants, coffee plants can occasionally fall victim to diseases and pests. In most cases though, an unsuitable location or inappropriate care measures are the cause of leaf discolouration.

  • Brown leaves: If only the tips of the leaves are brown, this is a sign of insufficient humidity. In this case, place your coffee plant in a more humid room or mist it with water more frequently. If entire leaves first turn yellow and then brown, waterlogging and the associated root rot are most likely the cause. In this case, repot the plant quickly into fresh soil with a drainage layer and water more sparingly. More rarely, the fungal disease anthracnose is responsible for brown spots on the leaves.
  • Yellow leaves: Yellow leaves usually indicate that your coffee plant is suffering from nutrient deficiency. Iron deficiency is common. Whilst the leaf veins of an iron deficient plant will remain green, the rest of the leaf turns pale yellow. This discolouration is also known as intercostal chlorosis. Iron deficiency usually occurs when watering with water that contains too much lime. In the case of iron deficiency, repot your plant and water with rainwater from now on. A lack of magnesium, nitrogen or sulphur can also cause yellow leaves. In this case, fertilise with a complete fertiliser. Better still, repot the plant into fresh soil. Overfertilising with mineral fertiliser can lead to chlorosis which causes the leaves to yellow. Acute overfertilisation is remedied by vigorous watering to flush the substrate completely several times – or likewise by rapid repotting. Waterlogging also causes the leaves to turn yellow before turning brown.
  • Pests: Plant pests such as scale insects, mealybugs or spider mites can attack your coffee plant. You can spot some of these pests with the naked eye and pick them off the plant. Weakened plants are often attacked in the winter months when the air is too dry. Place bowls of water on the radiator to increase the humidity or mist your plants regularly. Unfortunately, fungus gnats love the constantly moist soil of the coffee plant.
Browning coffee plant leaves
Most of the time, leaf discolouration can be traced back to improper plant care [Photo: Anant Kasetsinsombut/]