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Photo of native plants in front of a building

Shiny-leaf Wild Coffee Brings Life to Troublesome Shady Spots

With the botanical name Psychotria nervosa you ask, “why put this plant in my yard?”  The name translates “life” and “sinewy,” describing red berries that birds and small mammals eat and green shiny leaves with pronounced veins. Wild coffee is a partial shade and full shade loving evergreen shrub that brings life to your yard.

What’s not to like?!  It thrives in shady areas of Florida, including Central Florida Zones 9A and 9B. It handles moderately dry to moist conditions, and a variety of soils with a pH range of 6.1 (slightly acidic) to 7.5 (slightly alkaline). Don’t know your soil’s pH? Get a soil test kit at the UF/IFAS Extension office and send to the University of Florida for analysis. Soil analysis is a key to selecting the “right plant for the right place.” Plant roots need right conditions, or pH, to soak up soil nutrients to grow and thrive.

Evergreen wild coffees growing 10 feet high and 5 feet wide could screen views of your neighbors, even during winter. Choose shady areas protected from frost and cold northerly winds to prevent winter dieback. Spring and summer small white blooms attract pollinators; summer and fall red berries are eagerly plucked by local and migratory birds.

Photo: Shiny-leaf wild coffee front walkway. Alice Smith MGV 08.18.21

“Help me! My plant turned yellow.” Wrong place – it’s getting too much sun. Wild coffees transplant successfully to shadier spots when you dig up enough root ball. And they produce seedlings from dropped seeds, so you’ll have plants to share with neighbors.

See before your buy. Visit the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County office, 16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville 34604. Check out native plants for shady, partially shady, and sunny areas.

Shop Hernando County Master Gardeners nursery, 19490 Oliver Street, Brooksville 34601 and purchase native and non-native Florida-friendly plants.

Blog post written by UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Master Gardener Alice Smith.

For more information visit:

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FP494
https://www.fnps.org/plant/psychotria-nervosa