By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
Chocolate, originally found in South America, is known as “The Food of the Gods.” The first record of chocolate or cocoa dates back to 1900 BC and the Aztec people used chocolate seeds as a form of currency. Chocolate was served as a bitter beverage in the early days and was believed to be an aphrodisiac and have super powers. Later in Spain, and throughout Europe, sugar was added to the beverage and hot chocolate became a preferred drink even surpassing coffee. Chocolate is well loved today not only as a beverage but also when it’s made into candy bars and used in baking. Today, the health craze has brought us back to its natural form of consuming organic raw cacao nibs known for their antioxidant compounds called polyphenols as well as other health benefits. Growing your own chocolate tree is a relatively easy undertaking if you follow a few cultural requirements.
The chocolate tree is a small-to-medium sized tree and grows as an understory species in the rainforest so it tolerates and even thrives under dappled light or partial sun conditions.
Container Grown Chocolate
As a cultivated plant for the container gardener, the chocolate tree is easy to grow but it needs a bit of room to produce fruit. Plants are generally grown from seed and need 3-4 years to reach fruiting size. This means the tree will be 5-6’ in height with a trunk caliber of 1-1/2 to 2” in diameter. So to grow chocolate inside, a large, sunny and warm spot is needed.