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Coffee Plant Brown Tips: Common Causes & Effective Remedies

I have been growing a coffee plant for about 5-6 years and it has even flowered 3 times. I got a few red berries but never managed to make my own coffee, haha! 

I was having problems with leaves turning brown at the tips. I’ve been trimming off the brown parts, but even the new leaves that sprout end up with a bit of brown on them. The plant is indoors and gets plenty of sunlight.

Once a week, I take it outside and water it generously. New leaves are sprouting, but the issue persists. Today, let’s dive into the main reasons why this happens and how to fix it.

Why Do Coffee Tree Leaves Turn Brown and How to Treat It

1- Root Bound: The First Suspect

If you notice that the tips of your coffee tree’s leaves are browning, the first thing you should suspect is that the plant is root-bound.

Coffee trees have a tendency to spread their roots widely underground, making them prone to becoming root-bound.

Signs of Root-Bound Plants 

The classic sign of a root-bound plant is that roots are sticking out from the bottom of the pot.

However, even if the roots aren’t visibly protruding, you might still have a root-bound situation if water doesn’t easily seep into the soil or if it takes a long time for water to drain out of the pot.

In my experience, I checked the bottom of the pot when my coffee tree’s leaves started turning brown, and I didn’t see any roots sticking out.

But I did notice that water was taking much longer to penetrate the soil than before. To confirm, I dug a little into the surface soil with a stick and, sure enough, I saw roots right there. This was a clear case of being root-bound.

Take Action: Repotting

After confirming that my plant was root-bound, I repotted it into a slightly larger pot (about one size up). Guess what? The browning of the leaf tips stopped completely.

Last year, the same issue occurred, and I immediately figured it was due to being root-bound. A quick repotting resolved the issue.

The ideal time for repotting is from April to September when the weather is warm. Avoid repotting in the dead of winter, as it can stress the plant.

So, it’s important to note that coffee trees are fast growers when it comes to their root system, making them susceptible to becoming root-bound.

When this happens, the roots can’t absorb water and nutrients effectively, leading to browning leaf tips.

2- Coffee Plant Leaves Turning Brown: Cold Weather

Coffee plants are not as cold-hardy as many other houseplants. They thrive best in temperatures between 68°F and 77°F (20-25°C).

They can manage down to about 46°F (8°C), but anything lower can cause the leaves to lose their luster and eventually wilt.

If temperatures drop below 53°F (12°C), the plant may go into a dormant state where it absorbs water less effectively, increasing the risk of root rot.

How to Handle a Cold-Weakened Coffee Plant

  • Move to a Warmer Spot: Make sure the place is at least 50°F (10°C). Avoid putting the plant directly on heated floors as it can damage the roots.
  • Position in a Sunny Area: If you notice leaf burn, use shade nets or sheer curtains to filter the sunlight.
  • Water Sparingly: Wait for 2-3 days after the soil dries out. Keeping the soil a bit dry during winter can help improve the plant’s cold tolerance.
  • Avoid Chilly Window Sills: Move the plant about 3.3 feet (1m) away from windows during the evening or place it in the center of the room.
  • Ensure Good Ventilation: A fan or circulator can be useful in preventing pest infestations.

Key Takeaways

Today, we’ve taken a deep dive into the main reasons why the tips of your coffee plant’s leaves might turn brown, and how to deal with each one.

First thing’s first: check for root congestion. Even if roots aren’t visibly poking out from the bottom of the pot, the plant might still be root-bound, just like in the examples we discussed.

Winter can be a rough time for your coffee plant. It’s not just the cold that can do damage; it’s also a prime time for root rot.

Indoor dryness is also a playground for spider mites. So, if you’re thinking, “Hmm, the color of these leaves doesn’t look right,” consider the possibility of pest damage.

You’ll often find these critters on the underside of leaves or at the base of the plant. Spotting them early and removing them can keep the damage to a minimum.

So go ahead, use this guide as your go-to resource for diagnosing why the tips of your coffee plant’s leaves are turning brown and how to bring it back to health.

Main Causes and Solutions for Brown Leaf Tips on Coffee Plants:

  • Root Congestion: Between April and September, consider repotting into a slightly larger pot.
  • Cold Temperatures: Even in winter, keep your plant in a spot that stays at least 50°F (10°C) and gets good sunlight.

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