If you're a true cacao lover you'll buy this tree.
This was the Aztecs famous money tree(yes, their money grew in the trees) and what they used to prepare their famous Xocolatl drink.
Back in the day, 10+ years ago I worked for an import/export company in Europe and I managed to eat some raw cacao beans imported from Peru by an UK company. They were only dried and not fermented but were the Criollo variant. It was an instant Cupid strike...I fell in love with it. You understand why they called it Theobroma Cacao or the food of Gods. I tasted the Forastero(like this tree here) beans as well and they were amazing but not as exquisite like the Criollo. If you ever bought the cacao nibs(the only thing available here in NZ...unfortunately...you kind of have an idea).Nevertheless even for the commercial growers, Criollo is a little more troublesome to grow than Forastero or Trinitario.
I have this plant for some(almost 5) months from Exotica and I learned how fussy it can be, 2-3 times fussier than an avocado or tamarillo or else. The good part, she tells you quickly if she's not happy. First of all we have to understand that Cacao is an equatorial plant which can grow even in some tropical conditions. Luckily I live in Northland which is subtropical but very, very at the edge of where cacao loves to be and thrive. But keep in mind that there are people who are growing it in UK or Michigan(and they take it out only in the summer time for 1-2 months when conditions are right.)
Now coming back to my personal experience: I received it very well packed like all packages which are usually send by Exotica.
I took it out and it looked very well only some burnt leaves' tips which is a common issue with cacao, anyway.
I used to keep her outside during daytime under cover on the deck and then inside during night time. She got used to it and even grew some new tips.
I also sprayed her with water as often as I remembered: growing in the rainforest it likes 100% RH (relative humidity) if it can but can survive with less but not much less. If you want to give her the super perfect condition buy a misting device!!
It is more affected by lack of humidity than lack of light.
Now, as summer came I've left her 24/7 outside on the deck and generally was fine until it got some direct sun around 30C. After a couple of days lost 15-20 leaves close to half of them, some you just touched them and fell off. Phew! Wondered, Will I lose you ?!
Gave it more TLC, back in the house for a couple of days and now is back out better protected and new tips/leaves coming out. Hip, hip hurray!!
So, it is finicky but answers quickly back when you treat her right!!
Now you know we had this rainy season and I kept it outside(except when Gabrielle hit us) and it survived being tied to a post some very severe downpours and storms. So, she can be hardy to some weather conditions but it was a gamble which I personally took!
Good luck and enjoy it!!
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