Coffee at home
The coffea arabica is a shrub or small tree originating in Ethiopia and Yemen; the other most famous coffee species is coffea robusta, widespread in nature in many tropical areas of Africa. From these two species, various cultivar and hybrid varieties originated, spread in cultivation in most of the tropical regions of the globe, from Australia to South America. They produce a large shrub, which can reach 6-8 m in height; in the apartment it is cultivated in pots, and generally does not exceed two meters in height. It produces a slender stem, with a hirsute appearance, with broad, rounded crown; the leaves are oval, or lanceolate, shiny, dark green. The flowers bloom on the old wood, directly on the stem and on the branches, are white, and vaguely reminiscent of orange blossoms. the flowers are followed by the fruits, of green-colored drupes, which recall olives, which become bright red when ripe. Inside the fruits there are two small green seeds, which toasted and processed become the coffee that many of us use to drink every morning. Coffee is one of the most cultivated plants in the world, and this cultivation has naturalized the plant even in places far removed from the areas of origin.
The plants grown in the apartment are evergreen, like the sisters grown in nature, but often do not produce flowers, or fruits if grown in pots in the apartment.
How to grow coffee
Cultivation of coffee as a houseplant is not particularly difficult. Like all plants from tropical areas, it requires average high temperatures in every month of the year combined with high humidity and excellent lighting.
There coffee plant it is grown as a houseplant due to its decorative foliage; in practice we say that it is cultivated as a ficus plant, therefore like most of the tropical plants. It needs a good soil, possibly with an acid ph, deep, fertile, and very well drained. It is positioned in a well-lit area of the house, but without direct sunlight, away from direct heat sources, and possibly in an area of the house with good air exchange, to avoid the development of parasites; however, we avoid areas where it can be affected by excessively cold air. Water them regularly, always waiting for the soil to dry between one watering and another; they can withstand short periods of drought, so in indecision it is advisable to water once less rather than once too often.
Origins and history
There coffee plant (Coffea arabica) belongs to the Rubiaceae family. It is native to East Africa, particularly from Ethiopia. However, its cultivation is today distributed in all tropical and subtropical areas of the world, from Africa to Asia to Latin America.
It is an evergreen shrub that, in full ground and in the right conditions, can reach 10 m in height. The leaves are medium green, shiny and oval in shape. They are the greatest attraction as regards the specimens used as an indoor plant. Flowering occurs in full summer: the individual flower heads, even in groups of 15, are of a beautiful bright white and give off a sweet and aromatic scent. From these develop small and graceful shiny fruits: first green, then yellow and finally red, always darker, until complete maturation: inside there are two seeds (what we call "beans").
COFFEE IN BRIEF
Family, genus, species
Rubiaceae, Coffea Arabica
|Type of plant||Fruit shrub|
|Foliage||Evergreen, oval, shiny|
|Habit||Erect, conical or pyramidal|
|Use||Indoor or temperate greenhouse plant|
|Height at maturity||Up to 5 m|
|Minimum temperature||14 ° C|
|Ideal temperature||18-21 ° C|
|Exposure||Very bright, no full sun|
|Ground||Rich in organic substance, well drained|
|Fertilizer||Every 15 days, for flowering plants or tomatoes|
THE COFFEE CALENDAR
|Flowering||June-October (in the right conditions throughout the year)|
|Collection||6 to 12 months after flowering|
|Vegetative rest||October to March|
If we keep the plant indoors, in a moderately heated room (15-18 ° C) we will have to reduce the watering. Usually the only intervention is when the lower half of the vessel begins to dry out: indicatively a weekly water supply is sufficient.
Even the light can be a little reduced, although normally its intensity changes naturally due to the season. In this period (with internal temperatures instead around 20 ° C, in a heated room) we can also expose it to direct sunlight, which rarely damages it.
Coffee is a very demanding plant in this respect: in particular it is quickly affected by the lack of microelements. To obtain good growth, flowering and fruiting we make a liquid fertilizer with a high potassium content every 15 days (those for flowering plants or for tomatoes are fine). At the beginning of winter it is good to sprinkle on the surface a few handfuls of well-seasoned flour manure, to be gently absorbed into the soil.
Pruning and cleaning the coffee plant
The plant, if in good pedoclimatic conditions, can grow even up to 5 meters in height. Generally its size is kept more contained thanks to pruning and trimming that make it even more compact and aesthetically pleasing. The trunks also lignify better and branch more effectively. It is cut just above the 3rd or 4th bud: from there secondary branches will be born that will be further trimmed.
This type of operation is carried out at the end of spring, only on plants in full form: those that struggle could undergo a lymph withdrawal and a ramular desiccation.
Pests and diseases of the coffee plant
Coffee is unfortunately sensitive to many pathogens and pathophysiologies.
Chlorosis is very frequent, caused by a lack of microelements: we fertilize with complete products and avoid the use of calcareous water for irrigation.
Other frequent problems are rust and anthracnose: usually robust plants are not affected. In case of strong attacks we use specific pesticides, first removing all the affected leaves or fruits.
Common pests are aphids, cochineal and red spider mites. The latter is prevented and fights with high environmental humidity, the others using specific products (especially for severe attacks).
Coffee plant propagation
New seedlings can be obtained by sowing or cutting
Sowing: carried out using very fresh beans, since their germination capacity lasts only a few weeks: buy them directly and from reliable retailers, possibly specialized in tropical plants. They should always be stored at high temperatures of at least 25 ° C.
Let's place them on the substrate (or on absorbent paper): we keep the environment very humid and with a constant temperature between 25 and 28 ° C. Germination is very slow: it can take up to two months. Then gently move the seedlings into pots at least 40 cm deep and fertilize properly.
In summer, we take branches of the year: they must be only partially lignified. We put them in a very light substrate and we always keep wet (we put a transparent plastic cap. We aerate, however, often to prevent rot from occurring. Rooting should take place within 30-40 days, then we can transfer it to the final vessel.
Before fructifying the plant must reach adulthood: generally it does not occur before the 4th year. The fruits ripen very slowly: depending on the climate they can take from 6 to 12 months. Flowering, like fruiting, can take place at any time of the year and the plant can simultaneously bear flowers and fruits, even at different stages of maturation. In our climates, however, it is very difficult to reach full maturity.
The fruits are picked when they become a beautiful dark red, almost garnet: they open and extract from each one or two grains. Before using them, they must be roasted (in the microwave, in the oven or in a pan) and ground.
To preserve them well, it is good to put them in an airtight jar, kept in the dark and at a constant temperature.
The Coffee: History and curiosity about coffee
The two most widespread varieties of coffee are Robusta and Arabica. The second is much more valuable because it is more aromatic, but also much more delicate and difficult to cultivate.
The first to cultivate and use these grains were the Arabs, starting in the fifteenth century, in Yemen, in the port city of Mocha (from which the name of a variety and coffee maker derives). The coffee name instead derives from the Arabic "qahwa" which means "invigorating"
In the first Europeans they met him in the mid-sixteenth century in Constantinople, but the importation began only a century later, when the first cafés opened in Vienna.