Theobroma Cacao growing and.. legalities

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by magnetiquewolf, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. magnetiquewolf

    magnetiquewolf Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec
    I did a quick search before posting this for information on growing theobroma cacao (chocolate trees) and either I'm missing something or there seems to be a dearth of information on the topic, so I thought I'd post what I've learned since adopting my first cacao tree in July of 2008.

    I'm growing a theobroma cacao tree in a small room next to a window that gets good light but little direct sunlight. I'm in growing zone 4, north-east coast, the summers are extremely hot/humid and the winters extremely cold/dry. I cannot put my cacao tree outside in the winter or it would die almost immediately. In summertime the sun and heat would burn its leaves, so I can't put it outside either, unless it's in a cool shady spot that gets dappled sunlight. That said, it's my most low-maintenance indoor plant in the house, hands down. I can never seem to under water it or over water it. It needs that low dappled sunlight, too much light burn the leaves, so it thrives in low-light conditions. A shady corner with an incandescent or low watt fluorescent would even do, I think (tough I wouldn't want to subject my tree to tha t kinda environment, to be honest).

    I bought the tree in a 6" regular plastic pot when it was about 1.5 feet tall in summer 2008 and it's now in a 1.5' terra cotta pot and has shot up to 4 feet tall. I replanted it in the terra cotta pot in late summer 2010, it will probably grow another 2 to 4 feet this summer, maybe taller. Really, an excellent indoor plant.

    It's still very young so it hasn't produced any flowers or pods yet. But I imagine it'll bloom this summer or the next, and maybe see fruit a year or so after first bloom.. unless I luck out and get fruit right away, which would be great but I'm not banking on it. :)

    I believe the one theobroma cacao I have now is a generic (but robust) yellow cacao species. It's planted in a 50% peat-moss medium, with black earth and dry compost mixed in to form a light but dense potting soil that absorbs and retains water, planted in glazed terra cotta to allow regular root/earth aeration and release condensation to prevent bogging or drowning the plant. A plastic pot would allow too much moist, rotting the roots (almost happened, hence terra cotta).

    I feed my cacao tree a tablespoon or two of epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) every 6 months or so, sprinkling it on top of the soil rather than diluting it in water. I also empty half a cup of used tea/coffee grinds in water once or twice a week. I till the soil lightly around the edges of the pot every few weeks, but have noticed the tree is forming roots near the surface of the soil around its trunk so I try not to disturb them. I top up soil and repot regularly per needs.

    Because I love chocolate, and because I've always been told growing chocolate in Canada, and based on my awesome experience growing cocoa in Canada thus far, I'd love to collect a variety of cacao trees and grow my own cacao beans.

    Whew.

    So that's my experience with my cocoa tree so far. Hope this helps other aspiring Canadian/North American theobroma cacao collectors :)



    I do have a question though, I'd appreciate responses, tips, or opinions, if anyone thinks they could help..:

    Is there a resource or online documentation regarding legislation or legalities re: growing, importing, or exporting plants in Canada? Or North America,or even better, a worldwide resource?

    I remember reading somewhere that it was illegal to import cacao plants into Canada.. or something like that.. but I forgot where I saw this information, it was from some online resource somewhere but I can't find it now. I've Googled this info recently and still can't find it, so I'm not sure if it was bogus information or what.

    I would like to start traveling to find rare or unusual plants, and would like to bring some samples home to Canada.. but I'd like to do so legally, of course. I have no interest in illegal plants/substances. Just a resource on the plain ol' legalities of plant-swapping between countries would be great. :D

    Thanks so much in advance!

    Have a great day.
     
  2. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    4,776
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    You can start with Agriculture Canada's website and their physical offices - if you ask at the Montreal offices, they'll direct you to someone who knows all the ins and outs of importing plants to Canada, what's restricted, what requires phytosanitary certificates, and what can come straight in. That person will likely point you to the relevant laws and statues governing plant imports; from what I recall Cacao isn't on the restricted list, but it is one of the plants that requires a phyto certificate and/or must be shipped bare-root.

    On the plant-care note, sounds like you're doing great! When the tree finally does bloom, you'll have to pollinate it yourself with a soft paintbrush, and maintain the tree in an evenly warm environment during fruit production (ie don't let the temperature vary more than 10 degrees C, otherwise it will drop the fruits.)
     
  3. pinenut

    pinenut Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Whitehorse, Yukon Zone 0b or 1a
    Would you happen to have a source for seed here in Canada? I'd really like to try one.
    Carl
     
  4. belcat

    belcat Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    I really doubt it's illegal to grow in Canada, given it will promptly die from the cold winter. Usually what is illegal is importing, because of the pests that may come along for the ride. For this reason most plants imported from the US need a phytosanitary certificate. Seeds can usually be imported from the US without problems.
    There is an automated system regarding the import here, it will tell you what can be imported: http://inspection.gc.ca/english/imp/airse.shtml ... The automated system has no knowledge of Theobroma or Cacao, this is a good sign, since usually such systems are long on prohibitions.

    If stuff isn't labelled (like seeds) then customs may not even know it's a plant so it will go through. One vendor in the US shipped a miracle berry plant to me without anything, surprisingly customs didn't stop it (don't think it was labelled as a plant though).

    Location is important, Jackfruits seeds from Thailand will be stopped, but not from the US.
     
  5. belcat

    belcat Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Thanks for the info on your growing conditions - I am considering ordering a plant. I am trying to find out if they require another plant to be fertile (self-fertile or not?).

    I would suggest you try putting it outside in the summer under the shade of a big tree, this should be very beneficial (at least it has been to all my tropical plants - they grow like crazy).

    Seeds can be gotten tradewindsfruit.com for fairly cheap, shipping not so much ($16 US Priority) unless you go for the slow shipping (I dunno how long cacao seeds are viable). They don't always have the seeds in stock, you may have to wait until they are available. Obviously, don't under in the winter - they will perish in the cold. Hot summer days might also be bad.

    plantogram.com will ship you a live plant, mature. The plant is $50, the shipping is around $60, and the certificate is $70. That makes it quite expensive to buy there, but you get a mature plant. You probably want to get multiple plants since the certificate price is the same for any number of plants.

    I am not aware of any Canadian locations selling exotic tropical seeds or plants (except bamboo).
     
  6. magnetiquewolf

    magnetiquewolf Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec
    Thank you all for the information, and thank you Belcat for the AIRSE link, I appreciate it.

    I bought a live cacao plant a couple of years ago from a local plant grower and seed distributor called Flora Exotica http://www.floraexotica.ca/Fruit.htm

    He advertises that a small cacao tree in a 6" pot is $40 but if you pick it up in person he sometimes lowers the price by 10%-20%, especially if you buy other plants at the same time (I bought a vanilla cutting and a small Miracle fruit tree at the same time).

    The small cacao tree that I bought was about 1.5 feet tall with very delicate leaves. New leaves are quite delicate and will tear very easily, or burn with even the slightest direct sunlight or in a low humidity environment FYI. Cacao definitely prefers a high humidity environment. That said, other than protecting baby leaves, it's an extremely low maintenance plant, like I mentioned before. :)

    I'm looking at my cacao tree right now and count a couple dozen new leaves, and about 6" of new growth, and it's only June. It will keep growing through the summer. I can't tell ya how happy this tree makes me. Lol.. though I'm probably just channeling my love of chocolate onto my admiration for my cacao tree.

    Happy growing!
     
  7. belcat

    belcat Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Thanks for the store link. So you bough it in the US and brought it back home with no problems through customs?

    I bough a cacao and a Soursop from plantogram.com, the vendor threw in a smaller suriam cherry tree. They made it ok through the mail. They are all showing new growth, the Soursop growing the fastest.

    Miracle berry trees seem to be very slow growers. The one I bough last year has not added any leaves - it gets enough sun though (especially since they don't like full sun). I wonder if I am not doing something wrong.
     
  8. Patibbishwa

    Patibbishwa Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Calgary
    Is there anyplace in Canada that sell cocoa plant
     
  9. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    5,779
    Likes Received:
    497
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
  10. pmurphy

    pmurphy Contributor

    Messages:
    928
    Likes Received:
    731
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
  11. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    gulf island, bc, canada
    www.tradewindsfruit.com is a good seed source, and usually has more than one variety/species available-they're fairly cheap and ship to Canada.
     
  12. JPL

    JPL New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Trois-Rivieres,Qc,Canada
    I have 45 seeds sprouting in my basement as we speak. And pretty happy about it too. The pod was hard to find... We'll see how it goes... I may be able to hook people up when they get big enough. PM me if interested.
     
  13. Patibbishwa

    Patibbishwa Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Calgary
    Hello Jpl
    I would love to have a cacao plant when and if you are ready.Thank you in advance.
     
  14. JPL

    JPL New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Trois-Rivieres,Qc,Canada
    Sorry guys. None left. The seeds were infected by the cacao pod borer. The seedlings died.
     

Share This Page