How to Grow a Coconut Palm

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Coconut palms are a symbol of the tropics, and knowing how to grow them can be a lot of fun! They bring a breezy, beachy feeling to the scenery, and of course, the delicious coconuts they produce are well worth the effort of growing them. Who could say no to piña coladas and coconut shrimp made with fresh coconuts straight off the tree from your yard? 

How Fast Do Coconut Palms Grow In Florida?

When people first consider learning how to grow coconut palms, their first question usually revolves around the wait time for growth. While it does require some patience before your coconut palm starts producing fruit, they do grow faster than your typical tree! When grown from seed, you can expect your coconut palm to start producing fruit in 6–10 years, but it won’t reach peak production until about 15–20 years after planting.

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How to Germinate Coconut

If you’ve got a fresh coconut, you can germinate it! This is definitely the most inexpensive method for how to grow a coconut palm. Your coconut should still have the husk on it, and when you shake it, you should be able to hear the water splashing around inside. Follow these steps to get your coconut ready to be planted:

  1. Soak the coconut in water for three days.
  2. Fill a 12-inch container with a well-draining potting soil that has some extra vermiculite or sand mixed in.
  3. Plant your coconut with the pointy side down, and the top ⅓ of your coconut should remain uncovered.
  4. Place the container in a spot that’s warm and well-lit—at least 70°F.
  5. Water frequently, but don’t let the soil get soggy and waterlogged. It’s much easier to avoid soggy soil—if you follow step 2 and make sure the soil is extra sandy and fast-draining!
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Planting a Coconut Tree

If you’d like to keep your palm tree as a container plant, it will only live for about 5–6 years, and likely won’t produce fruit. However, if you want to know how to grow a coconut tree in the landscape, it’s quite simple! You can transplant your potted coconut tree into the ground—you’ll just need to make sure you’ve sufficiently prepared the soil. In Florida, you don’t have to wait for a specific season for optimal planting—you can plant them whenever!

Find an area with lots of sun and loose, sandy soil, and dig a hole that will allow you to transplant your small tree at the same depth as the pot. Don’t pile up any soil around the trunk! Use a granular 2-1-1 fertilizer when first planting your tree outside—it helps to reduce transplant shock and stimulate root growth. There are also formulas tailored specifically for coconut palms that you can use. 

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Care Requirements After Planting Your Coconut Tree

Particularly during those first few months after planting, you should water your coconut palm generously and consistently! This will help the roots to establish. A soaker hose is an easy way to irrigate the soil around your tree—it releases a slower, controlled amount, so you won’t end up wasting extra water. 

One of the most important parts of learning how to grow coconut trees is knowing how to keep them well-fed! These plants are heavy feeders, so you’ll need to use lots of fertilizer, or else they’ll start showing signs of nutrient deficiency. Use a fertilizer formula that’s fortified with extra nutrients like manganese, boron, and magnesium.

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The best way to fertilize young coconut palms is with a foliar fertilizer, because it delivers those nutrients straight to the leaves, so they grow lush and green! Use one that includes a wetting agent, so it’s able to soak through the waxy leaves. Apply every 1–2 months for the first year after planting, on a dry day that isn’t windy. After that first year, you can switch to a granulated 2-1-1 formula. You’ll only need to apply it every 3–4 months at this point. 

If there’s an unexpected cold spell headed your way, you might want to consider wrapping your young tree in some canvas or tree wrap to protect it overnight, as they are very sensitive to cold. Cold weather isn’t a common occurrence here in South Florida, but it’s always good to be prepared just in case!

Now that you know how to grow coconut palms, you’re probably eager to get started! We’ve got all the fertilizers, soil amendments, and other equipment you’ll need to plant a healthy, gorgeous tree. We’ve also got some starter coconut palms for sale if you want to skip the germination stage! Visit us soon to see all the amazing plants we have in store for summer 2021. 

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