How to Care for a Coconut Palm Plant


Nothing says tropical like tall swaying coconut palms. These lovely trees can be grown anywhere temperatures do not regularly dip below freezing. Although they are quite tolerant of coastal conditions, they can also be grown inland. Coconuts are quite tall, and will require professional maintenance if they are planted near places people walk, sit or park, to reduce the considerable hazards of falling nuts and fronds. Dwarf cultivars are available, which are better suited to most backyard gardens. Coconuts produce fruit about 10 years after planting. With proper care, a healthy coconut palm can bear coconuts for up to 100 years.

Step 1

Build up 6 inches of soil with a shovel to create a small berm and shallow well around the tree, at the outer edge of the canopy. Bring soil from outside the tree canopy to make the berm, and avoid disturbing the tree's roots.

Step 2

Water newly planted coconut palms frequently until they are well established. Make sure your mature coconut palm receives at least 1 inch of water per week. Place an inexpensive rain gauge near the base of the tree and use it to estimate the weekly rainfall. Make up for any shortfall, if the amount is less than 1 inch, by filling up the irrigation well around the tree to the necessary depth.

Step 3

Cover the well inside the berm with a 3-to-4-inch layer of organic mulch, avoiding 6 inches around the base of the palm. Maintain this mulch layer to discourage weeds and retain moisture. Do not make your mulch layer deeper than 4 inches to reduce the risk of breeding fungal pathogens.

Step 4

Feed coconut palms every two months with a balanced, time-release fertilizer, which contains the trace elements magnesium, manganese and boron. Look for fertilizers with these elements, which are specifically formulated for palms, at your garden center.

Step 5

Maintain coconut trees by removing dead fronds from the crown. Do not drive spikes into the trunk to climb the palm for maintenance because this can introduce dangerous pathogens and permanently injure the tree. Hire a qualified professional to maintain tall palms.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic mulch
  • Rain gauge
  • Time-release fertilizer


  • University of Florida: IFAS Extension: The Coconut Palm in Florida
Keywords: grow coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, coconut culture

About this Author

Malia Marin is a landscape designer and freelance writer, specializing in sustainable design, native landscapes and environmental education. She holds a Masters in landscape architecture, and her professional experience includes designing parks, trails and residential landscapes. Marin has written numerous articles, over the past ten years, about landscape design for local newspapers.