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How to Grow a Tea Plant

black tea image by Yekaterina Choupova from

The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) grows in high altitude tropical climates and at low elevation in sub-tropical climates with mild year-round conditions. Tea plants require consistent temperatures that range between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit . According to the University of Florida, tea plants stop growing when the temperature drops below 55 degrees F or rises above 95. Keep tea plants indoors where you can control the temperature in weather that is below 65 or above 85 degrees F and move them outside during the mild seasons.

Fill a shallow seed starting pot with acidic compost. England's Royal Botanical Society recommends using an acidic compost formulated for rhododendrons when germinating tea seeds.

Water the compost in the planting tray until it is evenly damp but not saturated. Put the tea seeds onto the compost about 1 inch apart and top with 1/8 inch of soil, enough to just cover the seed.

Keep the seeds damp in an area where the temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees F. Indirect light or dappled shade is best; avoid full sunlight. Tea seeds germinate in about four weeks.

Transplant the strongest seedlings into individual 8-inch pots when they are 2 to 3 inches tall. Keep the tea seedlings between 65 and 72 degrees F while they are maturing.

Plant the strongest seedling into a 15-inch pot when it is 10 to 12 inches tall. Fill the new pot with the acidic compost mix. Start with a 15-inch pot and increase the size over the years as the shrub matures. Tea plants can be pruned to remain small; left unpruned they will grow as tall as 6 feet. A 6-foot tall tea plant will need a 4- to 5-gallon pot.

Keep the tea plant between 65 and 85 degrees F. When moving an indoor plant outside in summer, gradually increase the amount of sunlight until it can tolerate full sun. Keep the soil moist but not saturated with light, frequent watering. Put the plant under cover in rainy weather; too much moisture will cause the leaves to mold. Shelter tea plants from wind.


Planting several seeds increases the likelihood that one or two strong plants will make it to adulthood. Take out the weaker seedlings at each transplant and keep only the strongest.

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