How to Grow a Coconut Palm Tree

By Mary Richardson , last updated May 3, 2011

Growing a coconut palm tree is easy if you fulfill the right conditions. Coconut palms thrive in warm, sunny climates with a rainy humid season. However, they can often be grown with success in other regions as houseplants. While your coconut palm may not produce edible fruit, they are attractive trees. Indoor potted versions can survive for 5 to 6 years. Use these guidelines to help you grow your own coconut palm tree!

Growing from Coconut

Select a whole coconut with husk intact. Fresh coconuts that have recently fallen from the tree work best. Shake the coconut to make sure there is still liquid inside. Soak it for 2 to 3 days.Insert the coconut pointed side down at a depth of 12 inches into well-drained soil in a 3 gallon container. Add sand or vermiculite to the soil to ensure it drains well.

One third of the coconut should remain visible above the soil. Put the container in a sunny or partially shady spot. Coconuts do best in temperatures 70 degrees and higher. Water the coconut well so that soil remains moist but does not get waterlogged. A seedling will grow within 3 to 6 months. Transplant the seedling to a container or outdoors. Then, start fertilizing when you notice three fronds.

Growing from Tree

Select a healthy young coconut palm from a garden center or nursery. Make sure the tree does not have an odor and the soil is moist. Avoid buying a tree with overly wet soil. Inspect the trunk and foliage well to ensure there is no disease or insects. Turn over the leaves to check for pests. Insert the tree into a large container with rich potting mix. The container should be 10 inches deep and wide enough to hold the nut. Ensure container has adequate drainage. Be sure to water your tree frequently. In fact, if your pot has good drainage, there is no way you can overwater this tree.

Fertilizer and Temperature

Apply a fertilizer to your coconut palm from 4 to 6 times a year. Ensure the feed has regular nutrients as well as boron, manganese, and magnesium. Ask for recommendations from a garden center for palm fertilizers. Also, keep your coconut palm in warm temperature throughout the year. If grown in a container, move it indoors when temperatures dip in the fall and winter. Avoid storing it in a garage or near a drafty window or door. Provide supplemental light such as fluorescent lighting.

Potential Issues

Check your tree regularly for symptoms of disease. Coconut palms often suffer from a disease called Lethal Yellowing, which causes the trunk to blacken, leaves to yellow, and coconuts to drop from the crown prematurely. The palm usually dies within 6 months of acquiring it. If possible, buy a tree resistant to this disease.

Coconut palms are popular with insects, so look for infestations on your tree in the form of small spots, powdery residue, and waxy discharge. Treat pests with a solution made from water and alcohol. Wipe down the foliage and wash the whole tree. Or apply a commercial insecticidal soap.

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