Questions on: Coffee

Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service


Q: Can you tell me why the leaves from my coffee tree keep falling off? (Bison, S.D.)

A: Coffee plants need a lot of bright, indirect light, an even moisture supply—no drying between watering—and to be kept away from drafts. Any one or all of those care factors will cause leaf drop.


Q: I have a coffee plant and I repotted it because it looked like the roots were showing. However, the tips are turning brown and the brown is starting to spread up most of the leaves. Could this be salt or fluoride damage? Should I water with distilled water? Should I cut away or remove the brown leaves? (E-mail reference, Elizabeth, N.J.)

A: There could be a number of sources for the problem you describe.

Watering with cold tap water - allow it to become room temperature (70+ degrees)

A non-free draining pot, water collecting in bottom causing anaerobic conditions

Salt or fluoride damage, as you said

A new location the plant is unhappy with; too much light; or not enough; or too drafty.

Air too dry due to winter heating system - mist frequently with distilled water.


It shouldn't hurt it to be watered with distilled water for awhile, and try cutting it back somewhat. Grow lamps can be obtained for just under $20. I suggest you might try growing it under one for a few weeks to see if that doesn't improve things somewhat.

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