Growing Coffee in Florida USDA Zone 9!

Growing coffee in Florida has always been considered a stretch. I managed it against a south-facing wall a little south of Gainesville, though only a single plant. I just got a comment from Alison Golwick sharing her success near Tampa, on this post from two years ago:

“I am growing arabica coffee plants in Brandon Florida, a community just east of Tampa, Florida. It is zone 9b, I live on a ridge with a slight slope so planted the coffee plants along a south facing slope with an oak canopy. They get a little morning sun and some part shade during the day. I planted them two years ago and they are doing great. This year they produced their first fruit.

The fruit is still green in November, so I am worried that it is getting too cold for it to complete ripening, as this takes 37 weeks from flower to red fruit. The coffee plants range from 3-5 feet and are beautifully lush shiny green leaves – very healthy looking. I will be giving them more TLC over these colder months with compost tea and some extra water.

From the beginning I decided to plant them as a privacy plant along my property line, so in the end if they didn’t produce coffee beans they would still be a beautiful border plant. I originally ordered 18 plants – that is what is recommended for 2 cups of coffee a day for a year, 18 plants can supply enough coffee for that. Later I added another 10 plants just to finish the property line and have extra coffee!

I love my coffee plants and I am glad they seem happy as well.

Oh another tip, when we had a bad frost, I used Tyvek home wrap insulation teepeed’d over them in a long row to protect them from the frost. It worked great! Tyvek does not let moisture in so it keeps the frost out. Anyway, it protected the plants and it is easy to roll up and use again. Now that the plants are taller it will take more material, but it is cheaper than other frost protection options.

Anybody else in the Tampa area growing coffee?

I am also growing a lot of other fruit trees, like mango, bananas, papaya, soursop, cacao, star apple, Rollinas, lime, pomelo, mulberry, pecans, pistachio, logon, jabotacaba, sugar apple, sapodilla, atemoya, cheramoya, blueberries, cane sugar, lychee, grapefruit, lemons, avocado, pomegranate, peaches, kumquat, figs, tangelo, barbado cherry, miracle fruit, and wild oranges.”

If you are also growing coffee in Florida, let me know. I would love to share your story.

Note: I share some tips on coffee and tea growing in my short book Grow Your Own Caffeine.

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