ooops! help with Cocoa Tree!

hottielover14February 11, 2007

hi i got a cocoa tree from Garden Of Delights last week. when it came it kind of looked sickly with holes in the leaves and some parts of the leafs were cut like a bug or something.and it was droopy. I emailed them and they said that its prolly because of the hail storm or something. When i first got it i sprayed it with Pepper Wax just incase it had any bugs on it before i put it in my GH. but now its even more droopy and the new leaves died and the top part is kind of turning brown..STUPID ME!! will it recover?

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ohiojay(z6 OH)

You need to get the humidity around the plant up to 100% right away and leave it there for a couple of weeks until the plant recovers. Cacao plants have high humidity requirements. You might also check your soil PH. They are acid loving plants as well.

The cheapest and simplest way to increase humidity is to build a plastic canopy around the plant. The "best" way is to enclose it in one of those little plastic greenhouses with zipper front and stick an ultrasonic humidifier in with it. This is what I do with any new arrival..especially bare root. It's great for stressed shipped plants.

Hottie, have you checked out the Tropical Fruit forum from GardenWeb? You'll find lots of interesting posts related to tropical fruits only.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 7:53AM
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i dont know if i can get it to 100% humidity, i have about 50% humidity during the day and about 80 degrees. ive read that they need high humidity but then ive read that they like it but can still grow without high humidity. well i have it in my lil GH that has a plastic canopy around it. yes i have checked them out but didnt see anything relating to my question.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 7:32PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

The problem is that the plant is probably stressed. You can go out and get one of those small ultrasonic humidifiers and stick it in the little GH with the plant. You really need to get the humidity waaaaaay up. Only a well-established plant can do fine on less humidity. Check the PH as well. Stay away from fert. Mist the plant. Without the humidity......

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 7:28AM
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yeah but wont I get mold and rust on my GH then because i prolly will have water mist on my GH. ok well the pH is about 6.3..why should i stay away from fert?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 7:29PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

Mold and rust? Maybe. There's always consequences. You've just got to decide which is more important. My humidity is down some in my greenhouse right now. Anywhere from 60-70%. My cacao is doing fine but doesn't seem to have the vigor it did when the humidity was higher...and mine is pretty established. Your PH sounds fine. It is also important to shade your young plant. It can handle some filtered sun later on. I would stay away from fertilizing for a while. It is under stress from shipping and lack of optimum conditions. Here is some info you might find helpful.

A hot and humid atmosphere is essential for the optimum development of cocoa trees. In cocoa producing countries relative humidity is generally high, often as much as 100% during the day, falling to 70-80% during the night.
Light and shade
The cocoa tree will make optimum use of any light available and has been traditionally grown under shade. It's natural environment is the Amazonian forest which provides natural shade trees. Shading is indispensable in a cocoa tree's early years.
Soil Conditions
Cocoa is grown in a wide variety of soil types.
Physical properties - Cocoa needs a soil containing coarse particles to leave free space for roots and with a reasonable quantity of nutrients to a depth of 1.5m to allow the development of a good root system. Below that level it is desirable not to have impermeable material so that excess water can drain away. Cocoa will withstand waterlogging for short periods but excess water should not linger. The cocoa tree is sensitive to a lack of water so the soil must have both water retention properties and good drainage.
Chemical properties - The chemical properties of the topsoil are most important as there are a large number of roots here for absorbing nutrients. Cocoa can grow in soils with a pH in the range of 5.0-7.5. It can therefore cope with both acid and alkaline soil, but excessive acidity (pH 4.0 and below) or alkalinity (pH 8.0 and above) must be avoided. Cocoa is tolerant of acid soils provided the nutrient content is high enough. The soil should also have a high content of organic matter, 3.5% in the top 15 centimetres of soil. Soils for cocoa must have certain anionic and cationic balances. Exchangeable bases in the soil should amount to at least 35% of the total cation exchange capacity (CEC) otherwise nutritional problems are likely. The optimum total nitrogen/total phosphorus ratio should be around 1.5.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 7:23AM
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thanks ohiojay, that is some really good info. how big is your greenhouse? well i think its too late for my cocoa, i think its pretty much a gonner! :(

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 6:16PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

Sorry to hear that. It is a very neat plant and I'm reading where they can start to flower and fruit early on. The foliage is very different from my other tropical fruits. Thin, papery, and large. A very attractive tree. I think you would have enjoyed it.

I don't know what zone/region you live in, what all you are trying to grow, and what the conditions you're trying to grow them in. Have you done mail-order tropical fruits before? Most do just fine with some basic care once they arrive. There are many that require going that extra mile to be sure the plant survives and thrives. Most of the tropical fruits require higher levels of humidity, which is tough if being grown indoors. It can be done. I did it for nearly three years before building the greenhouse. Don't get too discouraged if you lose the cacao. Learn from it and try it again. Just be prepared to give the new plant the best chance of survival prior to its arrival. I don't mean for this to be a lecture or anything resembling that so please forgive me if it sounds like it. I've certainly had my share of failures. Am I any smarter for it? That's being debated! But I have been doing real well with new arrivals...even the bare root ones. Humidity humidity humidity!! If you are lucky enough to be in a warmer climate zone, then you could set up a mist system for them.

My greenhouse is 21x26. Wish I could have enclosed the entire back yard! Here's a couple of pics. The river birch on the left in the first photo was cut down soon after these pics. It was blocking too much of my evening sun.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 7:27AM
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