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10 Causes of Coffee Plant Dropping Leaves (And Solutions)

Indoor potted coffee plant dropping leaves.

Congratulations on finally getting that coffee plant you’ve always wanted! I am sure you’re excited to get your first harvest. You’ve most likely learned all you could about how to care for your new coffee plant.

Despite all your preparations though, you’ve run into some obstacles and now fear for your plant’s wellbeing, wondering why it suddenly started losing its leaves.

The number one reason why a coffee plant drops its leaves is overwatering. Other causes may be fluctuations in temperature, drafts, and lack of moisture, usually due to placing in an unsuitable location. Coffee plants prefer humid environments with a tropical temperature.

Did you check your plant and nothing mentioned in our answer applied to you? Read on for more possible reasons why your coffee plant may be losing its leaves and what to do about it.

Causes of Coffee Plant Dropping Leaves

Coffee plants can be difficult to care for. There are many diseases and environmental factors to consider when caring for this plant. When growing coffee plants, it is important to know what is healthy and what is not.

The key is to catch a disease or solve a problem before damage to your plant becomes permanent. Some symptoms to look out for, their causes, and solutions are listed below.

Underwatering

Coffee plants will drop their leaves if you allow the soil to dry out completely.

These plants thrive in a humid climate and were not designed by nature to be drought tolerant.

Allowing the soil to dry out completely can cause irreparable damage to your coffee plant.

Solutions

⦿For underwatering, I will advise watering more frequently. Make sure the soil stays moist but not soaking wet.

⦿If it happens that your potting soil doesn’t hold enough water regardless of how often you water your plant, soak the whole pot in water for about thirty minutes to an hour. Doing this will force your potting soil to absorb water instead of just letting it drain through.

⦿When you take out your pot, let any excess water drain so that your plant does not get waterlogged. Your potting soil should be good to go again.

⦿Only water again once the topsoil, about 1 inch (2.54cm) deep, has dried out. A coffee plant does best if you keep the soil moist.

Overwatering

Even though the coffee plant prefers moist soil, it does not tolerate waterlogged soil. Standing in water can cause the roots and bark to rot, effectively destroying the roots and ringbarking the plant.

Damage can be permanent if the problem is not corrected immediately, resulting in the death of your coffee plant.

Solutions

⦿For overwatering, I would advise you to wait between watering for the top inch (2.54cm) of soil to dry out.

⦿Remove any excess water left in the tray half an hour after watering your plant.

⦿You can test if the soil is dry by pressing your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, then it is time to water your plant.

Low Humidity

Low humidity can stress out your coffee plant. When your plant experiences stress, it will drop leaves to protect itself.

Fewer leaves mean less energy is being expended and less water and nutrients will be necessary to keep those leaves and thus the plant alive.

Solutions

⦿Mist your plant at least once a day. Misting several times a day is better if you have the time. Avoid misting during the night.

⦿An alternative is to place a humidifier next to your coffee plant to keep the air around it moist.

⦿You can also place your plant on top of a tray filled with water and pebbles. If you use the tray method, make sure your plant is not directly sitting on the water.

⦿Lastly, you can group your plants together. Grouping plants together traps moisture and increases the humidity in the process.

Compact Soil

When the soil in the pot of your coffee plant is compacted, it can cause stress to your plant’s roots. The roots might struggle to absorb water and grow as they should. This stress can cause the plant to lose its leaves.

Solutions

⦿When you notice the soil in your coffee plant’s pot is becoming compact, you can either opt to replace the soil or loosen it up with a gardening fork.

⦿Try not to damage the roots when loosening the soil.

Temperature Stress

Coffee plants will start losing their leaves once temperatures drop below 55°F (12.78°C). They can, however, be permanently damaged by temperatures dropping below 42°F (5.57°C) causing possible death.

Solutions

⦿Coffee plants prefer constant temperatures between 60°F (15.56°C) and 75°F (23.89°C).

⦿Controlling the temperature is easier if your plant is kept indoors. For those kept outdoors, make sure to bring your plant inside when the temperature starts to drop in fall or early winter and during the heat of the day in summer.

Drafts

Drafts can cause stress in your coffee plant which may lead to the plant dropping its leaves. Hot or cold air can cause mechanical damage on the plants.

If its current location is kind of drafty, it must be the reason why your coffee plant is shedding off leaves.

Solutions

⦿It is best to keep your coffee plant in a room without drafts or take steps to protect the area against drafts and wind if kept outdoors. Make sure that strong wind does not stress your plant.

⦿The coffee plant prefers a humid environment without any drafts.

Too Much Direct Sunlight

Being in direct sun can cause leaf burns, which will look like brown stains on the leaves, which will most likely lead to the plant dropping its leaves altogether.

Solutions

⦿Coffee plants prefer strong, indirect sunlight.

⦿If kept under direct sunlight, the leaves might get damaged. It is best to keep this plant in a bright room out of direct sunlight.

Not Enough Indirect Light

A coffee plant, although preferring indirect sunlight, kept in very low light conditions may drop its leaves.

The leaves may look discolored before falling. This happens due to the fact that the plant cannot make enough food to support all the leaves.

Solutions

Solving this problem is as simple as moving your plant to a room with strong indirect light, or supplement natural light with artificial grow lights.

You May Also Enjoy: Hydrangea Leaves Turning Yellow (8 Causes And How to Fix It)

Nutrient Mismanagement

A yellow leaf discoloration may occur on coffee plants lacking nutrients in the soil.

The cause of the discoloration may be caused by a lack of iron and manganese. Coffee plants may also drop their leaves when given too much fertilizer.

Too much fertilizer may burn the roots causing damage to your plant. (Source: The Pennsylvania State University)

Solutions

⦿All you have to do is buy an appropriate fertilizer from your nearest gardening shop and mix it into the soil. You can ask the attendants at the shop if you are unsure of what fertilizer to use and how strong to make the dosage.

⦿If your problem is too much fertilizer, the solution is to take your plant out of its pot, mix the current soil with a new potting mix and then replant your plant. Take care not to damage the roots during this process.

Pests

There are two important pests to look out for when looking after your coffee plant, they are scale insect and spider mites.

Scale insects are not usually a problem unless your plant is already weakened by incorrect temperatures in its environment.

You can recognize this pest by a scale-like appearance and a honeydew type excretion on leaves and stems. (Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

Spider mites will mainly be a problem if your coffee plant is too dry with too low humidity. You can recognize these little pests by the yellow coloration of your coffee plants leaves and too dry conditions of the soil.

Solutions

⦿You can treat scale insects by correcting your plant’s other problems like too wet or dry conditions and correcting the temperature range. You can also make a mixture of soap, alcohol, and water which needs to be applied to the leaves daily until the problem is solved.

⦿Spider mites are easy to control. They absolutely hate moisture so the best treatment is to correct your plants too dry conditions with a thorough watering. You can also prune infected branches to reduce pest numbers and wash the remaining leaves.

FAQs

Q: How Often Should You Water A Coffee Plant?

A: There is no set frequency to water this plant. The best is to do the finger test. Coffee plants prefer to stay moist, but not wet. After watering your plant, allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. To test if it is dry, simply press your finger about an inch into the soil, if it feels dry to the touch, water your plant. 

Q: Why Are The Leaves on My Coffee Plant Turning Yellow?

A: There are a variety of reasons why the leaves of your coffee plant may be turning yellow. These reasons include, but are not limited to, the following: Pests like spider mites, a lack of nutrients in the soil, too little light, and a fungal infection that causes leaf spots. 

Q: Why Are My Coffee Plant’s Leaves Curling?

A: There are a variety of reasons for a coffee plant’s leaves to curl. Some of the reasons may be overwatering, too little light, nutrient-poor soil, and more.