Just thought I would post some photos of my cacao pod, seeds and seedlings as I am growing them. This is the plant that chocolate comes from.
This first photo is of the cacao seed pod. There are different kinds. This is pictured next to a large navel orange for size comparison.
Pod is slit down the side to reveal the seeds. The seeds are enclosed in a thick slimy gelatinous membrane. They are not fun to peel lol. You need to get it all off before planting especially indoors or you will run across mold issues. I also rinsed them in a little bit of soapy water and then under the faucet after taking the membrane off. Some people like to eat the membrane part. I tasted some and it was pretty pleasant.
Once they were all cleaned I planted them shallowly into small 3 oz plastic dixie cups with a seed starting mix. I poked holes in the bottom of the cups for drainage. You could definitely start these in larger pots, such a 4 inch. or larger because their roots grow very rapidly . I used small ones just because of space issues on my seed starting shelves. I had to pot them up to 4 inch -right away a few days after they came up due to the large root system. When you are sprouting them they need heat (like a seedling heat mat) and lots of humidity. I just put some saran wrap over the pots. I do have them under lights but they are not up close to the lights. I would say they are a foot away.. The cacoa plant is a understory plant (grows underneath of other plants) and appreciates some shade especially earlier in life). I will be back to post some photos of the seedlings after I take some more photos.
I bought the pod. Montoso gardens has cacao seeds and pods. I have grown the cacao plant before but gave it to my mom before I moved to FL. So this is my second round with them lol. This particular pod had 30 seeds.
They can be quite comical..This one really reminds me of something from 'Little Shop of Horrors'! LOL (oh yeah- don't do this! ..put them in peat pods in another container-I ran out of cups lol..the peat pellets are way too small and they have trouble being born :P)
I am no expert so if there are some out there please feel free to give me any pointers along the way. I am gonna keep posting on these periodically. I thought they were such wierd looking plants/seedlings the first time I saw them so wanted to share the photos :)
Excuse me, I see the pod came from mail order. You had very good germination; keep the plants well watered, and regularly fed with organic fertilizers, and your plants should grow well!
If you can get the plants to mature in the ground outdoors, keep them well mulched, watered, and fertilized, and you should be able to produce your own cacao beans.
Metrosideros, That is a lovely cacao tree you have! Lots of nice looking babies too!
They all look very happy in thier enviornment there.
I had ended up with about 5 seeds that never did anything for some reason but I am happy that so many did germinate :) They are in quart size pots now and could probably be bumped up to a gallon in a week or so. They do grow fast.
I will prob have to keep mine in pots because it gets colder than 40F in the winter here and sometimes freezes. I might sink some of the pots into the ground and then dig them up in the fall-not sure yet... Do they resent having thier rootballs moved or tampered with?
It is best to get the plants into the pots that you plan to keep them in fairly soon. I germinate the beans together in a community pot, and after they have hardened off their first leaf, put them in gallon pots till they produce a couple more leaves, then put them in the ground.
If you can grow them in large pots (20 gal) they should get large enough to produce pods.
It takes about five years for them to start producing.
Thanks. I guess I will have to go look for some huge pots lol. Maybe the big round laundry tubs from walmart with holes drilled in the bottom might work.
You seem very knowledgeable about cocao , do you know why the seedlings keep the bean part on the stem? (After the bean sprouts and the leaves come out the top-the split bean part still stays on) Is there a nutritional purpose for that or something?
Hi Lenette, I believe that the new plant is absorbing some benefit from the bean till it dries up and falls off. Seeds generally contain hormones that aid in the development of the new plant (one reason I sprout the seeds all together).