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Grow Coffee, Tea, Chocolate and Other Popular Beverage Plants

from the Logee's growers

Grow Coffee, Tea, Chocolate and Other Popular Beverage Plants

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin


Coffee (Coffea arabica)

(Coffea arabica)

Tea (Camellia sinensis)

(Camellia sinensis)

Chocolate or Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)

Chocolate or Cocoa
(Theobroma cacao)

Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis)

Yerba Mate
(Ilex paraguariensis)

Roselle Jamaican Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
Roselle Jamaican Hibiscus
(Hibiscus sabdariffa)

Popular beverages, such as Coffee (Coffea Arabica), Tea (Camellia sinensis), and Cocoa (Theobroma cacao), are world renown and easy plants to grow and harvest. A couple more plants that we recommend adding to your favorite beverage list are Yerba Mate’ (Ilex paraguariensis) much like green tea loaded with anti-oxidants, and Roselle Hibiscus Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa), which is high in Vitamin C.

Let’s start with a well-known plant like coffee. The enjoyment and ritual around a morning cup of coffee has become an obsession, and now people drink coffee throughout the day. Growing your own coffee beans is fun and easy for the gardener.

Coffee (Coffea arabica)
is the most widely consumed coffee and the most flavorful. Arabica makes an excellent potted plant and can flower and fruit when the plant is just under 3’ tall. The flowers are delightfully scented and become green fruit that change into bright red cherries when ripe. They also make excellent houseplants since they can endure dry conditions and low light conditions. For more details go to:

Tea (Camellia sinensis)
Although many camellias are known for their showy blooms, Camellia sinensis ‘Tea’ is grown for its leaves. Depending on how you dry and cure the leaves, you’ll get black, green or white tea. Once your tea plant reaches 3-5’ tall in its container, you can harvest the leaves twice a year. Simply grow in partial sun in a well-drained acidic potting mix and prune when young to get a multi-stemmed specimen. For more information go to:

Chocolate or Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)
The cocoa plant is an understory plant and thrives in partial light conditions. The enjoyment of eating or drinking chocolate is well known to people around the world. Maybe it is the aphrodisiac qualities or the anti-oxidants but one thing is for sure, chocolate is the universal language of love. When grown in a container, once the plant reaches a height of 5–7’ tall, flowers will form along the stem from spring through fall. Simply hand-pollinate the flowers and watch the pod-like fruit develop along the trunk. The fruit starts out green and then ripens to a golden yellow. Keep temperatures above 60°F and move the plant outside in the summer months if grown in the north. For more info on growing and harvesting chocolate go to:

Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis)
This South American drink is more popular than coffee in its native land. Similar to the taste of green tea and loaded with anti-oxidants and caffeine, this “get up and go” drink can be served hot or cold. As a plant, it’s easy to grow and leaves can be harvested once the plant reaches 2-8’ in height. Give full to partial sun and keep above 60°F. If you want to grow a container plant indoors, simply keep it in an 8” pot and pinch back when young to form a multi-stemmed specimen. Yerba Mate has few problems with pests or diseases. For more info go to:

Roselle Jamaican Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
Brewed from the deep red sepals and calyces of Roselle Jamaican Hibiscus, this beverage is full of vitamin C and anti-oxidants. The bright red beverage can be served hot or cold, and when served in a tall crystal glass or clear teacup, it’s a visual pleasure. Grown as an annual in northern zones, Roselle Jamaican Hibiscus can be planted directly in the ground or grown 3-4’ tall in a large container. Give full sun and plenty of fertilizer during the active growing season. The blooms form in abundance during the summer months. For more information:

Looking for other Tasty Tropical Plants to grow? You can find more in our book:
Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in any home, anywhere. by Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin, (Storey Publishing, 2010)

For these tasty beverage plants and more, click here.