Are you looking for a great new way to grow your own coffee? Using the hydroponic method comes with a wide range of benefits. We answer the most common questions below plus show you how in action.
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Can You Grow Coffee Hydroponically?
The answer to the question, “Can you grow coffee using the hydroponic method?” is a resounding yes. You’ll need a large 20-30 gallon container per coffee plant, enough soil-less media to support the tree. Then it’ll take 3-5 years for your first harvest. After that, you can expect 1-1.5 pounds of coffee per tree per year.
But you need to be aware that there is a definite learning curve that applies here. There are plenty of potential pitfalls that will need to be kept in mind. But once you have mastered them, the results can be amazing.
How Hard Is It To Do? (Aquaponics Example)
Growing coffee by making use of the hydroponic method is not rocket science. Setup will cost more as you’ll need a large 30-gallon container. Maintaining it is easy. In fact, once you set up the hydroponic watering system you don’t even have to water it. You just need a few hours a week to maintain the water levels and add more nutrient solutions.
It’ll still take 3-5 years till your first harvest. Watch the video below to see how this is set up using aquaponics. You can do the same thing with hydroponics by mixing your own solution.
From my experience with aquaponics, it’s easier to just go the hydroponic route. The solids in fish waste tend to accumulate around the roots which cut them off from their oxygen supply.
First, remove the plant from its soil. Carefully wash its roots with fresh and warm water. Then put it into the container you have chosen to grow it in.
You can also choose to put it in a special growing cup or net cup. In any case, be sure to surround the plant’s roots with plenty of small rocks and pebbles. Clay is best for this purpose. Keep the container filled with water. Results will start to appear in the space of a few weeks.
How To Grow Coffee Trees Using Hydroponics
Watch the video below for a full guide on growing fruit trees hydroponically. The same steps apply to coffee trees (sorry, no youtube videos ready yet for that one!).
This system uses clay pellets as the soulless substrate to hold the plant up. These are the same pellets you would use for aquaculture (just skip the fish waste and clogging problems).
Large Watering Troughs
Hydroponic Delivery System
How Long Till Harvest?
This is the tricky part. It may take quite some time for you to be able to harvest your coffee beans. Several factors apply here that could cause the time to be longer or shorter. It all depends on the conditions you are growing your plants in.
The usual amount of time it takes to harvest your coffee beans using the hydroponic method will be about 3-5 years from seedling to the full tree.
Each year it’ll take about 60-90 days for the beans to mature after they flower. Once you have picked them, you can store them for about 4 days. You may wish to freeze them to make them last even longer.
How Many Pounds Of Coffee Per Tree Per Year?
On average, a coffee tree in good health should be able to produce a harvest of about 1 to 1.5 pounds per year. This means that it would require roughly 4,000 beans to equal a full pound of coffee.
How Can I Increase The Yield?
You can adopt several methods that can help you increase your total yield of coffee from your hydroponic growth station. Your best bet will be to use plant nutrients in wise moderation. You should also place your plants very near a direct source of sunlight so that they can get as much of it as possible.
Should You Start From Seed Or Seedlings?
Your best bet will be to use seeds. They will germinate in a very quick fashion, usually within 1 or 2 weeks. Be sure to sow them at a level of about an inch deep. Keep the temperature at a level of about 65 degrees F or 18 degrees C. If you prefer to work outdoors, the temperature will need to be above 60 F or 16 C.
Will You Need To Transplant It As You Grow Or Should You Start In A Full Setup?
Your best bet will be to grow the coffee plant part of the way in a conventional growing spot. Then, when it has developed a viable root system, you can transplant it into a hydroponic setting. As long as you have enough air circulation and nutrients in your hydroponic solution, the coffee plant should continue to grow and thrive.
How To Build A Hydroponic System To Grow Full Coffee Trees
There are several different hydroponic systems that you can make use of to grow your plants. These include ebb and flow, wick, aeroponics, deep water culture, nutrient film technique, and simple drip systems. You can use any one of these to grow full coffee trees. Further research is needed to select the best one for your needs.
The best recipe for the hydroponic growth of coffee plants is one that will include generous proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
You will need to follow instructions to get the proportion of these nutrients just right. The average hydroponic nutrient solution will contain 9 percent of each of these elements. The remaining percentage will be made up of water and other nutrients.
Should You Do This In A Room Or Greenhouse
You can grow coffee plants hydroponically in a room or greenhouse. A greenhouse will work best since you have the best access to temperature and humidity control. This setting also gives you the best access to natural sunlight. If need be, you can use the hydroponic system in a room, provided you can control all of these settings.
What Lights Are Needed? Are There Different Lights For Growing Versus Fruiting?
There are many different types of indoor grow lights that you can use to assist growing and fruiting. These include LED lights, metal halide lights, plasma lights, and many other kinds.
These lights will be necessary to assist the growth process. This is all the more true if you are growing your plants in a room rather than a greenhouse.
What Temperature Should They Be Kept At?
Hydroponically grown coffee beans need to be kept at a constant safe temperature of not under 60 degrees F or 16 degrees C if you grow them outside. If you prefer to grow them indoors using the hydroponic method, the temperature should be kept at a level of not below 65 degrees F or 18 degrees C.
Do I Need To Control Humidity?
You absolutely need to control the level of humidity in your room as well as within the hydroponic system itself. The total level of humidity in the system should not be above the level that is present in normal room temperature conditions. Any more than this can cause serious damage to the health or growth cycle of your coffee plants.
For arid places like Colorado you may need to add a bit to get levels up to at least 50% humidity. See note below about checking first though. Hydroponics naturally gives off a lot of moisture which may get you where you need to go.
Too little (<50%) and the coffee plants won’t be happy. Too much and you’ll get mold problems.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.