How to Care for a Coconut Palm

Overview

Coconut palm trees (Cocos nucifera) are one of the most useful trees in the world, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These tropical trees are easily recognizable, with their tall, slim trunks topped with graceful palms and, of course, bunches of coconuts tucked under the foliage. Coconut palm trees are quite hardy once established, but they are particular in their care needs. They cannot tolerate cool temperatures, so if you live in a cool climate, you should choose a dwarf coconut palm, such as the Malayan dwarf, and grow it in a container so it can be brought indoors when the weather cools.

Step 1

Expose your coconut palm to plenty of sunlight. These trees are tropical by nature and need at least six hours of sunlight per day in order to thrive.

Step 2

Provide sandy, well-drained soil for your coconut palm tree. The loose soil allows the roots of the palm to more easily absorb the necessary nutrients from the dirt. Coconut palms are heavily reliant on nutrients for their growth.

Step 3

Water young coconut palms so that the soil is kept continually moist. After the first growing season, you can water less often. But in very hot conditions, make sure the palm tree gets a minimum of 1 inch of water per week.

Step 4

Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch to the area around the tree or on top of the soil in the container at the start of each growing season. This will help the soil retain moisture and prevent weeds from growing.

Step 5

Fertilize your coconut palm. Coconut palm trees do very well with fertilizer. They suffer greatly if lacking in certain nutrients. For this reason, it is important to purchase a commercial fertilizer formulated specifically for palm trees. The fertilizer should be in slow-release form. Use a broadcast spreader to apply the fertilizer to the area around the tree's trunk and extending out to the edge of the tree's canopy. Apply 1 lb. of fertilizer for every 100 square feet of canopy-covered area, once a month.

Tips and Warnings

  • Bring your palm tree indoors if you can when the temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Mulch
  • Pruning tools
  • Sandy soil
  • Slow-release fertilizer made specifically for palm trees

References

  • University of Florida: The Coconut Palm
  • U.S. Forest Service Department of Agriculture: The Coconut Palm

Who Can Help

  • Coconut Palm Tree: Coconut Palm Care
Keywords: Cocos nucifera, how to care for, coconut palm

About this Author

April Sanders has been a writer and educator for 11 years. She is a published curriculum writer and has provided academic content for several subscription databases. Sanders holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in social psychology and a Master's degree in information sciences and technology.