When our glasshouses are fully repaired, we will be able to grow Theobroma cacao (the cocoa plant) in the Tropical Corridor. Cocoa will be one of the star plants in our repaired glasshouse and visitors will be able to learn all about its history here at the garden. Right now, we do not have many healthy living cocoa plants and so we need to grow some from seeds. This is not an easy task. It is very important that the cocoa pods are super fresh for the seeds to be alive. Our gardeners had to order a seedpod from a special supplier and then make sure they used it right away.

Propagation manager Elisa has been trying out lots of different ways to make these seeds grow. Where cocoa grows in the wild it is very warm and very wet. Here in the Garden, we need to try to match this warmth and wetness to get the seeds to grow. We have tried:

  • Planting in sphagnum moss.
  • Wrapping in damp kitchen roll.
  • Putting the seed on top of the soil.
  • Planted in the soil.

Right now, the ones planted in sphagnum moss are doing the best, but we will have to wait and see what happens over the next few weeks. Elisa has to work hard to make sure the seeds stay healthy. Being so wet means that they can get mouldy, so Elisa checks them daily and wipes off any mould she sees.


Unfortunately none of our cocoa seeds survived. This happens all the time when growing plants so we aren’t too worried. We think that the cocoa pod that we used wasn’t fresh enough. Not being fresh meant that the seed had already started to sprout and got mouldy. We are excited to try again and find an even fresher pod.

Watch as Elisa breaks into the fresh cocoa seedpod to dig out the seeds.