Discover the pleasure of growing coconut palms. Cocos nucifera care and pest information. Directions for sprouting a coconut tree from a fresh nut.
Beautiful coconut palm pictures.
Think of coconut palm trees and a tropical beach where palms line the shores comes to mind. Most tropical and subtropical areas on earth are generously gifted with a climate suited for growing coconuts. Natives of these areas literally make use of every part of the coconut tree.
The word Cocos is derived from the Portuguese word for monkey. I don't know if the fruit acquired this name because of the "facial" markings it exhibits or because monkeys like to climb coconut palms and pick them.
Tiny and I once saw an ape at the Naples Zoo climb a tree and throw a coconut at a human standing on the ground. It was obvious that he was aiming for the guy too!
It will grow inland as well as on the coast where they are prized for their unparalleled ability to withstand hurricane force winds.
Give this tree constant warmth and an underground water supply and it will thrive as far inland as you would like to plant it.
It will, however, not take much cold. USDA zones 9b-10a is optimal for growing coconut palms in steamy Florida. In a cooler, drier, more Mediterranean climate plant them in zone 10b or warmer.
The difference is in the duration of the cold weather. Florida gets cold and warms back up quickly. California cold lingers. Cocos nucifera can't survive cold temps for very long.
Another thing you might like to know before growing a coconut palm tree is that they don't always grow straight up. They have a tendency to lean so plant them where this will not be a problem. In the right setting, it can add to the ambiance.
Leaning coconut palms on Key West
This is the process used for planting new coconut palm trees:
Mature coconuts are left in water for a few days before they are planted where the soil is dug at least 2 feet deep. Within a month or two, shoots appear. In a few months time, the young palms are transplanted to a more spacious area.
The minimum distance between two palm trees should be four and a half feet. The newly transplanted trees are watered regularly till new leaves come.
Ash residues from burning wood are left at the root of the coconut tree. This is a kind of disinfectant. During summer, larger coconut leaves are cut and left on the ground around the trunk so that not much moisture escapes.
Regular watering is done for two to three months of summer and mulching is important in hot weather. You have to balance the risk of giving insects a cozy place to breed against the growing coconut palm's need for moisture.
There are different varieties of coconut trees. Some yield coconuts in their second or third year from seed. But the biggest and most common coconut palm trees take more than five years to yield.
Coconut palms growing in the landscape of the beautiful Maui Hyatt resort on Kaanapali beach.
When caring for a coconut palm, be very careful of damaging the trunk.
The dreaded rhinoceros or black beetle views injured areas on the trunk as an open door. It will lay its eggs in the wound. These beetles will kill the tree if they are not controlled.
People growing coconut palms should burn any dead trees on their property to prevent the black beetle from breeding inside decomposing trees. They are also fond of compost heaps and piles of organic debris so keep the area around the palms clean. Beyond this, there are also good biological controls (a virus and a fungus) being used with success against palm destroying beetles.
The beetles can be hand picked off of young trees and destroyed.
Neem insecticide and moth balls can also be used as repellents.
Growing coconut palms need deep soil as their roots run very deep and travel yards in search of water. This helps to prevent soil erosion and is the reason for people planting more coconut palm trees along the beaches.
Coconut palms growing on Coco Cay in the Bahamas
Coconut palms are susceptible to a disease called lethal yellowing. It is spread by an insect and can kill a tree in just a few months. When growing coconut palms, be sure to plant resistant varieties like the Malayan or Maypan Coconut.
Coconut Bud Rot can kill a tree if it is not stopped in time. Here is what happens: Water freezes in the crown and damages tender new growth. Eventually the ice thaws but then you have trapped water sitting in the crown of the plant. This puddle forms the perfect breeding ground for Phytophthora palmivora which then infects the tree.
Infected fronds will turn brown and die.
If your tree is small, remove all the dead coconut palm leaves and drench the crown with a copper based fungicide like this one:
Then water and feed it with a high nitrogen palm tree fertilizer to keep it strong and improve its disease resistance.
For tall trees, you will need to have a local tree service come out and apply the spray.
Growing coconut palms will often recover from this disease without being treated but a severe infection, left untreated, can cost you the tree.