How to Grow a Coconut Palm Tree

Written by contributing writer
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Coconut palms are associated with sandy beaches and salt water. Surprisingly, coconut palms do not need either salt or sand to grow. Coconut palms will grow in any tropical, frost-free region. These palms are grown commercially for their nuts and as specimen trees in landscapes. Coconut palms come in both standard (80 to 100 feet tall) and dwarf varieties. While both types can be grown in containers, for a long term houseplant consider a dwarf coconut palm. The key to growing coconut palms is ensuring they are not deprived of nutrients essential to their growth. Applying a fertiliser formulated for palm trees every three months will keep your coconut palm healthy.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Topsoil or compost
  • Shovel
  • Coconut palm any variety
  • Container
  • 50/50 Compost/sand
  • Fertiliser made specifically for palms

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  1. 1

    Select your coconut palm cultivar. For containers choose a dwarf coconut or a slow growing standard coconut tree, be aware at some point the standard will become too big for a pot.

  2. 2

    Choose a site in full sun with a soil pH of 5.0 to 8.0. The soil should be several feet deep and easily worked. If you have a stony soil dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the area the adult palm will need. Replace the stony soil with topsoil or compost.

  3. 3

    Construct raised beds in areas that are prone to flood and stay under water for several days. The beds need to be at least 18 inches higher than the water level during a flood.

  4. 4

    To grow your coconut in a container, choose one wide and deep enough for the stage your coconut is in at the time you buy it. Fill your container with a 50/50 mix of compost and sand. You can also use commercial topsoil mixed 50/50 with sand. Make sure the junction where roots turn into stems is 1 inch below the soil surface.

  5. 5

    Plant your coconut palm at the same depth it was planted at the nursery. Space your standard palms 18 to 30 feet apart making sure they receive full sun. Dwarf varieties can be spaced 8 to 12 feet apart depending on the cultivar.

  6. 6

    Apply mulch to a depth of 3 to 4 inches and as wide as the canopy of your coconut palm.

  7. 7

    Give your coconut palm at least 1 inch of water a week. Include rainfall in the amount of water your palm is receiving.

  8. 8

    Every three months apply a fertiliser formulated for palm trees. Follow package directions or apply 1 pound of fertiliser per tree. Spread the fertiliser on the soil under the canopy of your coconut palm.

Tips and warnings

  • Ensure that your coconut (both outside and inside) receives at least 8 hours of sun a day.
  • Coconuts can tolerate some flooding, but persistently wet roots will cause the tree to dye.
  • Coconuts have very specific nutrient requirements. Failing to fertilise with a fertiliser specifically formulated for palms can lead to the death of your tree.

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