The most recognized palm worldwide, nothing suggests "tropical" quite like Cocos nucifera, the coconut palm. These beauties grow readily from seed or coconuts. It can take nine months or longer for a coconut tree to sprout, but it will grow quickly thereafter. Multiple leaves will emerge and develop into a hard, strong trunk in about five years. Between 6 and 10 years of age, your palm will produce coconuts, reaching its maximum fruiting potential at about 15 to 20 years old.
Choose a freshly fallen coconut from which to grow your tree. The thick, brown husk should be intact. Typically coconuts are ripe when they fall naturally. Hold it close to your ear and shake it and listen for the "milk" sloshing around inside it. Soak the coconut in water for two to three days before you plant it.
Cover the bottom of a 3-gallon pot with a loose layer of small rocks to encourage good drainage. Combine equal parts all-purpose commercial potting mix and clean, coarse sand and partially fill the pot with the mix. Plant the coconut with the pointed end straight down so that the top one-third of the nut remains above soil level.
Place the pot in a warm location in filtered light, out of direct sun. The temperature should always remain above 70 degrees F, with 80 degrees F preferred.
Water the coconut thoroughly so that the soil surface is evenly moist, but not soggy or wet.
Water the coconut often enough to keep the soil from drying out. To prevent rot, don't over-water to the point that the soil is saturated. The surface should always be moist to your touch. Your coconut tree should sprout from the cavity in the top of the nut in 4 to 9 months.
Move the coconut seedling to a larger pot or plant it in the ground when it's between 3 and 6 months old. Choose a bright, sunny spot and incorporate aged manure into the planting soil. Keep the palm well-watered so the soil remains evenly moist.
Feed your tree a 8-4-12 fertilizer after three fronds sprout, according to the packaging instructions. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations carefully.