Grow a Kona Coffee Plant

The Kona coffee plant is a variety of Coffea arabica. Arabica Coffee is a shade plant that grows in misty tropical mountains, so it’s fairly easy to give a coffee plant what it needs, basically it likes temperatures, humidity and light that people prefer.

How to Grow a Coffee Plant

Outside

Kona Coffee can grow outside in Florida, the Gulf shore and California most anywhere avocados or oranges  will grow, provided it it has shade and protection from cold temperatures and winds. It can be grown completely indoors though or moved outside when temperatures are warm.

Coffee is now grown commercially (!) in coastal California from Santa Barbara to San Diego underneath avocado trees. In California it must be grown in the shade and watered frequently, a sprinkler system watering every other day is good and given a light acid fertilizer to counteract the alkaline water and soils.

Light

coffee leaves with green berries make a good houseplant
Coffee makes a good houseplant with its beautiful deep green leaves

Coffee bushes grow naturally in the shade, in the house they should be near a bright window but not directly in the sunlight. You could put them in the sunny window with a sheer curtain. Outside: If you put it outside for warm weather, then you must be careful not to put it in bright sun is it will burn quickly. It’s best to move it slowly into brighter light, keep it in full shade and slowly move it towards filtered shade under a tree for example.

Temperature

Coffee plants prefer temperatures that stay consistently above 65 F. (18 C.) and below 95 F. Freezing temperatures will kill them. Bring them in the house before Frost. Keep them out of the cold winter time drafts in the house.

Coffee is  grown commercially in coastal California from Santa Barbara to San Diego underneath avocado trees

Graphic of Pot-in-gravel-tray-above-waterline
1 ) Keep the pot out of standing water. It can be placed in a tray with a bit of gravel where the water will evaporate providing humidity.

Water

Coffee grows in the understory of cool, often cloudy, damp tropical mountains. Moist but not soggy soil with good drainage is required. Make sure the pot also drains well and that it’s not in standing water. Coffee leaves will droop when they don’t have enough water. A wooden coffee stir stick can be left in the pot soil and if it feels moist it should be okay but if this stick feels dry you need to add water. Small quantity frequent watering is best.

The humidity around the plant will need to stay high as well. Put your coffee plant near the humidifier in typical very dry winter homes or a water-filled pebble tray will help with humidity. You can also mist the plant with purified water, many Hawaii plants suffer from low humidity in closed-up winter homes.

 

 

Coffee flower
White fragrant coffee flowers of Kona coffee smell wonderful, but you will have to hand pollinate if it’s indoors

Soil

A light commercial potting mix with extra peat moss. The extra peat moss helps with maintaining an acid soil. Alkaline water typical of California and Texas may require the addition of an acid fertilizer. Plants frequently fail to thrive in both indoors and outdoors when they have the wrong soil acidity.
Coffee grows quickly and should be repotted every spring into a larger pot in the new potting mix will also help.

Winter

It needs less water and fertilizer in the winter than in the summer. A light balanced fertilizer once every to two three months, or slow release or sticks are great for spring and summer growth.

Summer

Coffee berries on branch
Red ripe coffee “cherries” ready to pick

Outside in summer make shoot your coffee plant stays in full shade and receives water at least every other day.

Flowers and Beans

Coffee has showy, charming white flowers that are quite fragrant. They put on a great show but it must be hand pollinated if they are inside, use a small painters brush to move pollen between flowers. Outside in summer bees will pollinate them and you will have coffee beans. They are ready when they are completely red.

 

Kona Coffee Lovers Gift Set -Live Plant and Coffee

 

Search Tools & Category Browsing

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Browse a specific category in our gardening and culture blog. Learn all about tropical gardening, growing your favorite Hawaii plants indoors, edibles and plant history.  Cultural and general historical information is also here. You can also search for favorite plant such as “plumeria”, using the search box below.

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Good Luck Ti Leaf

The Ti Plant

Pronounced “tea”, but it’s not the tea the English drink – that tea plant that is a camellia.
Cordyline fruticosa is the scientific name of an evergreen flowering big leaved plant in the Asparagus family, also called: good luck plant, palm lily, ti plant, Kī.

Hookupu Logo
The Ho’okupu, our Logo

Growing up to 15 ft tall, typically with leaves 12–24 in at the top of a fibrous stem. It produces long bunches of small scented yellowish to red flowers that mature into red berries. Native to tropical southeastern Asia, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, northeastern Australia, the Indian Ocean, and parts of Polynesia, it is not native to either Hawaii.

Canoe Plant

Ti is a “canoe plant” spread from its native range to Hawaii by Polynesian settlers. Its starchy roots are very sweet when mature, and eaten as food, made into candy or as medicine, and the leaves were used to thatch the roofs of houses.

Ti “Mana” In Old Hawaii

In ancient Hawaiʻi the plant was thought to have great spiritual power (mana); only kahuna (high priests) and aliʻi (chiefs) were able to wear leaves around their necks during certain ritual activities. Tī leaves were also used to make lei, and to outline borders between properties it was also planted at the corners of the home to keep ghosts from entering the home or property. Ancient Hawaiians also believed that the leaves had medicinal use as antiseptic and diuretic. The roots of the tī plant were used as a glossy covering on surfboards in Hawaii in the early 1900s.

Still popular in Hawaii for many uses:
360px- TI Plant in the semi-wild Cordyline_fruticosa_plant_with-fruit
Semi-wild Ti
  • Hawaiian hula skirts
  • To wrap up the traditional offerings, gifts and to carry things
  • Wrapping steamed foods such as Lau Lau (which you can buy in most big stores and stands in Hawaii)
  • Disposable plates and to serve food on
  • Leis, especially for men and at sporting events
  • Property corner markers in rural areas
  • People in rural Hawaii still plant tī near their houses to bring good luck
  • Ti is a popular ornamental plant, with numerous colors, sizes and forms available, it’s well known in Southern California as a landscape plant
  • Tī rhizomes are sometimes still fermented and distilled to make okolehao, a potent liquor

Green Good Luck Ti Logs Hawaiian – 3 Pack

Wild Ti Photo: Ethel Aardvark WikiCommons

 

Pruning Plumerias After a Frost

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Damage from a frost will not travel down the plant, but rot will. After a frost, plumeria stems that are damaged will turn black, all of the blackness must be cut off and some extra to prevent rot infections that will travel through the plant. Continue reading “Pruning Plumerias After a Frost”

Grow Plumeria in Southern California

Plumerias are kind…

And thoughtful, they drop their leaves in the coldest part of the year so you can have more sunshine and warmth. Your plumeria is not dead, it’s just on winter break.

In California, plumerias drop their leaves starting around Christmas time and then start leafing out after a couple of months. Some types of plumerias start before their leaves grow back, putting on a spectacular show.

A good way to kill plumeria is to plant it in a wet clay soil in the shade. Think of them as a kind of cactus with beautiful leaves and flowers. Keep them cool and damp and they will rot.

Sun

Plumerias are a tropical dry-adapted plant and they love full sun. Sometimes plumerias don’t bloom if they get too much shade, 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight is best.

Soil

Plumerias In Containers

Plumerias make good container plants. To prevent fungal growth, plumerias need light soil with excellent drainage drainage. Sand and cactus mix with pumice or perlite will improve the drainage; wood chips or other compost can be added.Clay pots are better then plastic because they breathe.

Plumerias in the Ground

Plumerias will grow in poor soils and still produce an acceptable plant. If your soil drainage is poor, plant them on a slope where there can be no standing water. Or plant plumeria in a raised planter bed with a good draining mix.

 

Tips on Growing Plumerias in Areas with Frost

Tips on Growing Plumerias in Areas with Frost

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Plumerias can survive a short freeze even a dip into the 20s, but longer than 30 minutes will begin to kill the bud ends. When the temperature drops below freezing, the latex sap freezes.

[icon name=”snowflake-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Frost Prediction

If there is going to be a freeze spray water on your plumerias, This is exactly what citrus growers do during frost. The dry surface and dust will attract frost crystals to the plant and cause it to freeze, also the water on the surface will freeze and absorb all of the cold as it freezes, saving the plant underneath. If you can set the sprinkler to water them at 4 AM and 5 AM, which are the coldest points of the night, that would be excellent.

Wrapping up plumeria with a blanket or tarp or overhead plastic can also save the plant. But plastic to cover your plants because it will retain the cold under and help freeze the plant. Some people put cotton socks over the tips.

Incandescent (Old-fashioned non-LED) Christmas lights can be wrapped around the plant for additional heat.

Plumeria in Containers

Exposed plumeria in containers will be killed if left out in the frost.

  • Before the Frost move the containers under a patio or protected roof area if not inside.
  • Water them and spray them down
  • Wrap them in a blanket
  • Move them to someplace where they can get warm air or against a warm wall or building

Pruning Plumerias After a Frost

 

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Plumeria vs Frangipani vs Frangipane

Plumeria has a rich history surrounding its name, enticing fragrance, pastry and lore. It has several names that include a fragrance and a dessert.

Frangipani

This name for plumeria is associated with fragrance, perfumes, creams and soaps especially in Europe and the old world.

Actually, the history of the name is muddled.

The Frangipani family was a powerful Roman patrician clan in the Middle Ages. The name comes from frangi “breaking” + pani “bread,” a reference to the family’s distribution of bread in time of famine. In the sixteenth-century this noble family in Italy claimed to invent a plumeria-scented perfume (in reality they made a synthetic perfume that was said that resembled the odor of the recently discovered flowers).

This family’s name became attached to the plumeria when apparently either a Marquise, his wife or his nephew or someone related, sold this perfume for riding gloves. Due to the fact that riding gloves really stank in the 16th-century (because people rode horses all day), it was important to have a strong fragrance hiding the smell. Because the perfume was a big success, when the flower became well known in Europe, the flower was named for this fragrance.

frangipane tart slice Gros_plan_de_galette_des_rois
Frangipane pastry, this is the French “Galette_des_Rois” served on January 6th, Epiphany

Frangipane

Frangipane is the singular form of the family name Frangipani and an alternate spelling of the Italian name. But more famously frangipane is the name of a pastry ingredient. Similar to a marzipan, it’s a mixture of almond flour, egg, sugar and butter. Supposedly the smell of almonds, sugar and some spices reminded people of the the fragrance of the plumeria/frangipani flower. It may also be associated because “pane” means bread. It’s the filling in an almond croissant as well as the French Epiphany (Three Kings Day) cake contain frangipane almond cream. In Britain, the cake itself is called a frangipane.

Plumeria

Charles Plumier botanist engraved portrait print
Charles Plumier – French botanist for whom Plumeria is named

The plumeria family (genus) is named in honor of the seventeenth-century French botanist Charles Plumier. He traveled to the New World, particularly the Caribbean where our plumeria are mostly from. Plumier is considered one of the most important of the botanical explorers of his time, documenting many plant and animal species. He made three botanizing expeditions to the West Indies, which resulted in a massive work Nova Plantarum Americanarum Genera (1703–04) and was appointed botanist to king Louis XIV of France.

Lei Flower

Plumeria is also called lei flower, because it was used frequently in the past and given to visitors. Popular due to its large size, lasting fragrance, and because it’s sturdy structure makes it easy to string. Plumeria also grows vigorously and produces large numbers of flowers in a perfect tropical array of colors. Visitors to Hawaii have become knowledgeable and sophisticated therefore this name has fallen from use. Many flowers are used for lei making today.