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My notes on growing Coca var. novo and var. coca

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#1 JanSteen



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Posted 02 October 2022 - 07:22 AM

So, it's been a while since I've been on this forum. Heck, it's been a while since I've done serious shrooms even.

Just wanted to share some notes that I think can be beneficial to people trying to grow coca. This forum has been roughly the only place where information is freely shared about it. So I wanted to add my 5 years of experience with these funky plants so that everyone who can get their hands on some seeds, has something to work with.



Alright, I've dabbled with this. I've done tests, lots of them.. And I came to a logical conclusion: everything you find about good coca soils is darn wrong to begin with.

These plants love water, but they love air even more. Get yourself a plastic pot with holes on the bottom, and get yourself a pot without holes where the plastic pot can be set into. A pot inside a pot. The inner one with holes, the outer one without.

The best results I've found are with soils that will be expensive. So make sure you have about 50 dollars on hand before you even think about growing coca.

I've found a couple variations to be equally well fitting so here's the breakdown:

  • 1:1:0.5 pumice, akadama, pine bark chunks (1cm max size).
  • 1:1:1:1:1 pumice, akadama, pine bark, lava rock, crushed granite

Those are bonsai soils. And they work like a charm. Especially with a more-or-less hydroponic setup like this. The pine bark chunks and akadama are a serious necessity. You could potentially exchange some parts with perlite but mileage might vary.

Repotting: I have 1.5 gallon pots that can go 4 years without repotting, maybe even more. Since the soil doesn't freeze, the particles only break down because of pressure and the roots. If you don't move them around that much, you might have to repot once every 10 years. Stability is key.

Of course we start seedlings in cup-sized pots. Wait until they are a foot tall. The soil will fall out of the rootball and they'll need recovery time. Best to wait until you're seeing strong growth.

Pot type: go with tall rather than wide. The dropping water column will draw in new oxygen to tickle the roots. Net type or fabric pots seem to be terrible because the soil can shift too much, causing damage. Over time these also will break down and they dry out too fast.

The soil is granular, so don't bump into the plants too much. Don't shift them inside their pots. They have a weak root system and it can take weeks for them to recover.



In these soils, tap water works just fine. In the summer I throw in some ice chunks from the freezer, basically demineralized water. In winter I use rain water as well. You water until there's a bottom layer of water in the pot, and that's it. Since the soil above is so free draining, the layer of water will dampen the soil but it will not waterlog it. Plenty of air, plenty of water availability.

All the things you read about pH? Yeah.. Me too. Seems like they really don't care. My tapwater pH is about 8. And they get tap water for 90% of the time.

How often you might wonder? Well, in good health, these plants will droop their leaves. They'll feel soft to the touch. From then on forward you'll have two days to water again. On day three, they'll drop their foliage.



Anything organic will do. Anything chemical as well. Just don't overdo it. Stick to the label and use it once a month instead of once a week. Better to stay on the lower end. Kelp works well for micronutrients. I use a regular allround plant fertilizer for the rest of the time.


Germinating seeds

Oof, difficult subject is it not? So many recipes! First and foremost: get fresh berries.

Chew off the flesh of the seed with your teeth. Seriously, don't swallow the seed. Now, once you've eaten the berry part, put the seed in a 3% peroxide solution for 24-48 hours. Gently stirr a couple times throughout the day.

Then put the seed in LIVE(!) sphagnum moss. Put that moss in a ziplock bag in a warm place. Room temp will do just fine. Ladies room temp that is (21-23 degrees C), not male room temp (18-20 degrees C).

Check every day for mold growth, if there is any, prepare a copper sulphate solution: a pinch of copper sulphate in 1 liter of water, wash the seeds with it. Put them back into the moss.

After a couple days the seeds will swell, now it's time for you to get finnicky about the details. On the seed there will be edges, not sure how to explain that otherwise. Once the seeds start swelling, those edges will loosen. With a toothpick or a needle, you can easily peel those off. Why? Because for some reason it decreases mold issues and it increases survival rates.

If these crescent moon shaped edges or hulls or husks or whatever you want to call them don't easily come off, wait another two days. This can take up to 8 days.

After roughly 9-14 days, you should see the seed opening and a root pop out. Now it's time to make a ball of live(!) sphagnum moss and put it in a container. Use the soil I mentioned above and place the ball of moss with the seed inside in the center of the pot so that you can see the moss ball, but it's surrounded by soil on the outside.

Provide ample ventilation and high humidity at first, but gradually lower the humidity if you can to prevent dampening off. This is the number one killer. Seriously. I would even go as far as to not care about air humidity at all.

Again, let them grow a foot tall before thinking about repotting.

Plants in a terrarium with plenty of light seem to do poorly (I blame humidity), put them on a window sill instead. I've had mine above heaters and it really didn't bother them that there was 40 degrees C of hot and dry air blowing around them.



Use genetically different plants because coca is self-sterile. Anything that's at least 2 generations apart will work too, but there will be aborted seeds and they'll have lower vigor. Make sure you water plentiful when there's flowers.

Pollinate by hand with a soft brush and do it daily for every flower. After about 4-8 days you will see if the flower aborts or if the fertilization was succesful.

Strapping a vibrator to the brush will increase chances of succes. Bumblebees do it, it works.

novo and coca will hybridize but there will be no increase in vigor. Count on 5 berries a year, per adult plant. Wait until the berries are completely red. They will soften a little, juuust a little. That's when they're ripe.

Wait with pollination until the flowers have opened. And don't move the plant or change the conditions when they're flowering.


Leaf drop

Oof, yeah, haven't seen that in 4 years. But when it happens, wait it out. Seriously. Ease down on the watering because there's no evaporation, but in all regards just keep the plant. It can take up to three months(!!!) before new growth pops up. I've tossed one plant after 2 months, and it flushed out just before going belly up (because I threw it on the compost pile). Don't give up. Even if branches are dead. Just do nothing. They can regrow from the trunk.



Only thing I've dealt with are mealy bugs. I used a systemic and labeled the plants so that I wouldn't eat any foliage for 6 months. Yes, it sucks. But my plants are in the adult stage and flower three times a year. The berries alone provide so much value that I'm fine with not touching my plants for half the year. Haven't had any other issues.


JanSteen can we contact you about purchasing berries? No. No, you shouldn't. I have none for sale. I will never have any for sale. Neither for trade.



Impossible. I've tried just about any technique there is, any auxin concentration, any lab chemical that should improve chances.. I'm good with plants. Seriously, it's my job to clone, micropropagate, insert vectors, cure diseases.. And never, never ever have I been able to strike a coca cutting that survived for 3 months. Not with girdling techniques, not with air layering, not with ground layering..

Literature out there states that it's possible, but I think the coca genetics in circulation right now are the agent-orange proof varieties that have serious rooting issues.



Snip off the apical branch ends (the meristem) and wait for them to fork. They will bud down lower as well. If the size becomes a problem, hard prune into the wood and cover the wound with parafilm. Dessiccation is a problem for pruned branches. Wait for dead branches to go wrinkly. That's when you're absolutely sure they're dead. Cut them flush.


Harvesting leafs

Only when you need to, they fuel growth. Young leaves have more mouth effect compared to older leaves. Try to pick them in an uneven fashion: left, one node higher right side, one node higher left side again. Make sure you even out the picking, so if you weaken one branch, weaken the rest too. Otherwise the plant will drop the weakest one.

Full defoliation should never be done.



Any window sill will do fine. Mine are in a north facing window, growth has slowed down but they're still growing just fine. South facing windows are better.



What's the temp in the Amazon? 23-35 degrees C? Again, female room temps will work.


TLC or thriving on neglect?

In all honesty, thriving on neglect seems to be working fine.



You might have read it here already. It don't matter. They don't care if the soil and watering are right.


Hey man, can you get us some seeds? Some berries? Cuttings maybe?

No, I can't and I wont. Half of my PM's in the past couple of years are about this. The answer is no. Even if I could, I wont. Not because it's illegal and such a hassle to do, it's just that I don't want to and I'm tired of people asking.


Key takeaways: This is a houseplant, not a terrarium plant. Will do well in windowsills. Water? Yes. Air? Yes. Use bonsai soils and only a little bit of live sphagnum in the seedling stage. Neglect outperforms TLC.

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#2 Skywatcher


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Posted 02 October 2022 - 08:52 AM

Excellent write up JanSteen !

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#3 JanSteen



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Posted 04 October 2022 - 01:42 PM

I forgot to clarify that they'll droop their foliage when they're thirsty. Some people might be able to fill in that blank, but since I'm posting to an international audience this might not be obvious to everyone out there.

So you should water when the foliage gets soft and droops/hangs down.


Seems to be working for me.


Maybe I should also clarify why the full defoliation should not be done: it's because these plants are weak to begin with. They need fuel for their growth and in our parts of the world there just aren't any easy ways to get more seeds or young plants. So if you kill your plant by full defoliation, it's back to start. That's not something I wish upon anyone. Full defoliation in plants can potentially lead to an explosion of growth, but it can also reduce the leaf size and it can severely weaken a plant. The choice is everyone's to make, but I prefer not taking any risks.


Thanks for reading and have a nice day!

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#4 pharmer



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Posted 05 October 2022 - 07:19 PM

Good to see JanSteen around again


But damn, man, if I had as noble an artsy name as yours I'd have a spectacularly artsy avatar :)


Jan Steen is worth looking into for his comic art from the late Renaissance era

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#5 pharmer



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Posted 16 October 2022 - 04:37 PM

for example


looks like a gathering of 'topiates to me





Edited by pharmer, 16 October 2022 - 04:40 PM.

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