How to Grow a Chocolate Garden

Can’t get enough chocolate? Did you know you can grow your own ‘’chocolate factory’’ by planting chocolate corn, peppers and sunflowers in your garden? Easy to cultivate and fun to harvest, chocolate flowers, herbs and vegetables are an unusual way to create a spectacular array of culinary and ornamental plants. Chocolate gardens have become quite popular in recent years, and growers have met the increased demand for seeds and plants by introducing new cultivars into their spring catalogs.

A hanging basket of chocolate mint, windowsill gardens of cheery chocolate pansies and a pot or two of chocolate tomatoes is a wonderful way to become acquainted with chocolate gardening. You can have a chocolate lover’s paradise by following the steps below.


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    Plan your garden well in advance of the first warm day of summer.
    • To do this, research mail-order or online garden catalogs for the plants you wish to grow.
    • Order your seeds early in the season when supplies are plentiful. Once ‘’spring fever’’ arrives and gardeners end their winter hibernation, it may become difficult to purchase specific varieties of vegetables or flowers. See the "Sources and Citations" section for suggested seed suppliers.
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    Sow the seeds six to eight weeks before the last expected frost date in your region.
    • If you don’t know when that is, contact the County Extension Agent or Department of Agriculture in your area. These agencies provide a wealth of information and offer workshops and seminars designed to improve your gardening skill.
    • Fill your growing trays or cell packs with commercial soil and sow the seeds according to the manufacturer’s directions. Water the growing trays well and place them in a warm, sunny spot but avoid setting them on top of radiators or other heating elements.
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    As the seedlings grow tall, thin the crop by removing most of the sprouts, leaving one strong plant. You can do this by cutting the seedlings with sharp trimmers.
    • Clipping unwanted seedlings may seem tedious and difficult to do but unless you have an unusually large garden, you don’t need 35 pepper plants. It’s much better and easier to grow five health plants than to have a dismal array of withered vegetables and flowers.
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    When the early spring days become warmer, set the young plants outside to "harden off". This means that they will acclimate themselves to the brighter sunshine and wind so that they are able to withstand the transition into the outside garden world.
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    Prepare the soil about two weeks before you install the seedlings.
    • If you are breaking ground for a new garden or tilling the soil from last year’s patch, add organic or commercial fertilizer, mixing it into the soil with a shovel or a rotary- tiller.
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    You can design your garden by setting the plants above ground according to the width and height requirements of each cultivar.
    • Remember, those little three-inch (7.5 cm) tomato plants are going to grow to almost five feet. You don’t want them to overshadow smaller varieties.
    • When planting chocolate flowers, clump them in sets of three to five per given space so that they have a lush, showy effect when fully mature.
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    If the design appears satisfactory, remove the plants from their pots and insert them into the soil. Water your newly installed garden well so that the seedlings won’t dry out.


  • Caring for your chocolate garden need not be a difficult and time-consuming task if you follow a regular routine of watering, pruning and fertilizing. By maintaining a clean and health garden, you reduce the risk of many horticultural problems such as pest infestation, disease and inferior crop production.
  • If you have your eye on a prize at a country fair, a stunning arrangement of chocolate daisies, dahlias and cosmos will bring the Blue Ribbon home for you. Or when it’s your turn to bring a dish to the ladies luncheon, surprise the girls with a plate of juicy, home-grown chocolate tomatoes topped with your zesty chocolate pepper relish.
  • Plants from a chocolate garden are useful in many ways. Creating a fragrant hand-tied bouquet for a friend or bringing a basket of chocolate corn to a neighborhood picnic are thoughtful and generous ways to share the fruits of your labor.
  • Whether your garden is a single pot of mint or a meadow of sunflowers, enjoy your journey into the tantalizing world of chocolate gardening. And don’t worry; your chocolate garden won’t melt on a hot summer day.


  • Seeds of the chocolate sunflower are non-edible therefore; use the plants for ornamental purposes only.
  • When using hand tools or electrical equipment in the garden, wear safety glasses, heavy-duty gloves and proper foot gear. Sunscreen, a wide- brim hat and adequate clothing will reduce your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays.
  • While the term "chocolate" refers to the color and scent of the plants, it does not imply that all chocolate plants are edible. If you are unsure about the culinary use of a chocolate plant, consult the grower or contact your local nursery for advice.
  • Avoid planting chocolate vine. It is an aggressive and vigorous grower that will over-take the entire garden.
  • When planting mint, it’s best to grow it in a container or basket as it is another invasive plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Seeds for chocolate plants or starter plants from a nursery
  • Growing trays or cell packs
  • Commercial seed start of all-purpose soil
  • Shovel
  • Pitchfork
  • Garden hose
  • Rotary tiller (optional)
  • Fertilizer

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Planting and Growing