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Soft or Velvet Leaf Coffee, scientifically known as Psychotria tenuifolia, is an intriguing native plant valued for its ornamental foliage, compact growth habit, and potential as a coffee substitute.


Soft Leaf Coffee is an evergreen shrub that typically grows to heights of 3 to 6 feet tall with a similar spread. It features dense, compact growth and oval-shaped, velvety leaves that are glossy green and have a soft texture, hence its common name. Inconspicuous white flowers appear in clusters in late spring to early summer, followed by small red to black berries that add seasonal interest to the landscape. While not a true coffee plant, the seeds of Soft Leaf Coffee can be roasted and ground as a caffeine-free coffee substitute.

Growing Conditions:

- Thrives in moist, well-drained soil with moderate fertility.

- Prefers partial shade to full shade, though it can tolerate some sun.

- Hardy in USDA zones 9-11, making it suitable for subtropical and tropical climates.

- Drought-tolerant once established but benefits from regular watering, especially during dry spells.


- Prune lightly as needed to shape the shrub and remove any dead or diseased branches.

- Mulch around the base of the plant to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

- Fertilize in spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to promote healthy growth and flowering.

Wildlife Attraction:

- The flowers of Soft Leaf Coffee attract a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies, enhancing biodiversity in the garden.

- Provides habitat and food for various species of birds and small mammals, which feed on the berries.

- The dense foliage offers shelter and cover for birds and other wildlife, adding to the ecological value of the landscape.


Add beauty, foliage interest, and potential coffee substitute to your landscape with Soft Leaf Coffee – a versatile and attractive native shrub that's sure to make a unique addition to any garden or natural area.

Soft/Velvet Leaf Coffee, Psychotria tenufolia


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