image by Joyce Starr
The coconut palm or Cocos nucifera is not only the most easily recognized palm, it is also quite easy to grow and care for. Native to the South Pacific, this stately palm grows best in the tropical and subtropical regions of the country where freezes are not a problem. Therefore, they will survive being planted outside in zones 9 or above. Giving the coconut palm enough space to grow is probably the biggest concern a grower will have. Once established, coconut palms can live for 100 years and continue producing fruit for 80.
Select an area in your yard that receives full sunlight and is large enough for the palm to grow. They can reach a height of 50 feet at maturity with fronds that are 6 feet wide and 18 feet long. Do not plant the palm where it can interfere with power lines or structures.
Remove any weeds or grass from the area where the coconut palm will be planted. Keep this area weed- and grass-free once the palm is planted and growing.
Plant the coconut palm in sandy soil that drains well. There is no need to amend the soil with manure or peat when planting it. Coconuts will not do well in heavy soils, such as clay, because of drainage problems.
Water the coconut palm well after it is planted. Stomp on the soil to remove any air pockets that may be remaining deep within it.
Place mulch around the base of the palm to help the soil retain moisture. Regular cypress mulch or pine bark will both work well.
Water the newly planted coconut palm twice a week for the first 3 weeks. Continue watering at a rate of once a week for the next several months. Coconut palms are drought tolerant; once established, you can cut back on watering to once every 2 weeks.
Fertilize the coconut palm four times per year with a good-quality palm fertilizer that is high in manganese and magnesium. Apply twice in the spring and twice in the summer.
Prune off the fronds as they begin to turn brown and die. Coconuts appear when the palm is 6 to 10 years old and will take up to a year to ripen. Harvest the coconuts when they begin to turn brown.