Cocao Tree

Cocao Tree

Cocao Tree Bonsai Diary  (Theobroma Cacao, 'Criollo');

The cocao tree is a great container garden candidate. It only requires enough space to get tall enough and develop a wide enough trunk before it produces fruit.

When the tree gets to be five or six feet and has a trunk diameter of 1.5 to 2 inches it will initially produce about 3 or 4 pods.  This usually takes three to four years.  Once they produce fruit, the fruit takes about five or six months to fully ripen.

Cocao trees grow well indoors as long as they have a sunny and warm spot to thrive. Clay pots are recommended for these trees, and moderate application of fertilizers during the growing season.

When the fruit is developed, it is time for chocolate or cocao making.

Let's Get Growin


SUN: Filtered 
WATER: Water Regularly
SOIL PH: 4.5-6.5
FERTILIZER: Fertilize young trees every 14 to 21 days with 1/8 to 1/4 lb with 6-6-6, 8-3-9 fertilizer. Increase amounts as trees become larger. Once trees are 12 to 18 months old, they should be fertilized with up to 1 to 2 lbs every other month. Reduce fertilizing from November through February due to cool temperatures and slowing plant growth.


Cacao Tree 'Tiki'

October 29, 2017: 723 Days To Fresh Fruit


The cocoa tree is doing great still!  The coloring looks great and it has gotten taller still.  

We may get some cocoa pods from this in about two years, if all goes well.  It seems we have some work to do to properly prune the cocao tree, although it is a bit scary for me.  Why?  Because this actually did happen: 

Sometimes, during the first year, several shoots form on the trunk.
Cut off these shoots and leave only the strongest.
Sometimes the crown forms too low down, at less than 1 metre above ground level.
Choose a shoot which grows straight up and let it develop.
A new crown will then form at a good height, and the first crown will stop growing.
Hmmmm... I don't know if I want to do this.  I don't need a really tall tree, but we can eventually move it indoors after the south facing room is remodeled.


August 5, 2017:  808 Days To Fresh Fruit
Cacao Tree 'Tiki'



I have some respect for this tree.  The leaves look so thin and frail.  Get a good dry wind blowing and the leaves blow right off. But Tiki just cranks out plenty more leaves and has even started making branches.  It looks like we will have three branches so far.  

I'm feeling pretty confident about keeping Tiki going, it has been a relatively easy tree as far as care goes.  I don't know if trees become more temperamental and finicky as they get older or if they just withhold fruits when not happy.

In any case, all is well so far.  We'll just keep trucking along as is...  

It seems applying a general low nitrogen slow release fertilizer agrees with all of the tropical plants pretty well which is quite a relief.



Cacao Tree 'Tiki'

April  16, 2017: 919 Days To Fresh Fruit


The leaf canopy is widening. Tiki is watered every day and gets sprinkled with water every day. We started watering the dirt greenhouse floor to help increase humidity during the day.  The cocoa tree doesn't seem to be drying out as quickly, but there are some brown edges on the new leaves.  The leaves are so thin...

However, it is not impossible to grow a cocoa tree in our area.  It must be grown in a greenhouse though, under light shade and watered liberally along with being kept humid.

Tiki was sold as the criollo variety, which is the most difficult to grow and seems to generate pods of various yellow, orange and red coloring.  This is supposed to be a high end, but possibly an incomplete chocolate flavor. For a complete chocolate flavor, the other type of tree to get is the Forastino.  It is possible if the seller has multiple types of trees, we don't really have a Criollo, but some type hybrid as cacao trees cross-pollinate easily. And if we really want fruit, we will need to get another tree for pollination.

April 2, 2017:  933 Days To Fresh Fruit


Cacao Tree 'Tiki'

It is difficult to see from the photo, but Tiki has started branching.  Loads of new leaf growth all over and the older leaves are browning around the edges.  

Browning leaves are supposed to be normal for the older leaves on a cacoa tree.  Moving Tiki to the greenhouse may be very helpful in encouraging new growth and maintaining an optimal temperature.  

We have some moisture loving dichondra growing on the ground in the greenhouse. This type of ground cover will help with increasing humidity via normal plant transpiration. 

If Tiki keeps growing like this, we will soon have to put it on the ground of the greenhouse with bricks under the pot to prevent roots from getting to the yard soil and allow for decent drainage.


Cacao leaves on Tiki

March 1, 2017:  New growth, 964 Days To Fresh Fruit


Many of the leaves browned around the edges, and many people say they have that issue with the older cacoa tree leaves. The good news is there are many new leaves in the wings...  I think...

Spring is around the corner so getting a multitude of new leaf growth should be expected around this time.  

So, things are going okay, I guess.  We haven't killed Tiki yet.

Cacao seedling 'Tiki'


October 21, 2016: Seedling Arrived, 1100 Days To Fresh Fruit


The seedling arrived today in great health and packaged really well.  The leaves look great.  I need to come up with a humidity plan for this one and the lemon mangosteen.

The window will be a good spot for Tiki until we get a nice looking pot and a grow out site.