The Q&A Archives: cocoa mulch

Question: I've used cocoa mulch as a mulch around all of my plants in previous years. I like the way it looks (and it smells great!) and it seems to last pretty long. I've recently heard that it is poisonous and has additives added to it that are bad for the environment through run-off, etc. Can you please tell me some more about mulching products and their environmental impact, including cocoa mulch? Thank

Answer: Cocoa bean mulch is an eco-friendly mulch material. It is organic and breaks down naturally, and it adds nutrients to the soil as it does so. Nothing is added to the cocoa bean mulch during processing. It is a by-product and is perfectly natural. Not long ago an alarming e-mail began circulating about its toxicity to dogs and cats (because it contains the chemical theobromine). Theobromine is a caffeine-like chemical which acts as a mild diuretic and stimulant in human beings but is poisonous to animals less well equipped to metabolize it. The theory is that the mulch has an attractive fragrance which is attractive to pets and they might be tempted to eat it. According to the ASPCA, no cases of poisoning have been reported, even on a national scale. So, the rumor is just a rumor and cocoa bean mulch is a safe product to use in your landscape. Hope this answers your question!

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