It's safe to say that you've probably heard of coconut and enjoyed the delicious desiccated dried and sugared coconut. But have you ever thought of growing a coconut palm yourself? In the right climate, you can not only harvest the delicious pulp of a tropical coconut, but also use the fibrous pulp in soil mixes.
So much can be done with coconuts and the coconut palm that it might as well be the trademark of the tropics. The coconut fruit is widely used in cooking, and ripe coconuts contain moisturizing coconut water. But there are so many secrets about growing coconuts. This is pretty incredible considering that coconut fruits are the most common nut in the world.
You may be thinking, “I can't grow a coconut palm. I live in Maine. ”But that's not entirely true! Additionally, you may not need as much space in the northern USDA zones as in the tropics to grow a coconut palm. How is that possible? Read on and let's explore the wondrous Cocos nucifera.
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Brief instructions for care
The coconut palm is a beautiful tropical palm. Source: zbigphotography
|Common name (s)||Coconut, coconut, coconut palm|
|Scientific name||Cocos nucifera|
|Days to harvest||At least 6 years|
|water||1 inch per week|
|floor||Loamy, sandy, well-drained soil|
|fertilizer||High nitrogen granules, every 3-4 months|
|Pests||Mealybugs, coconut scale|
Everything about the coconut tree
Coconut fronds are pretty, but can have sharp edges on the leaf blades. Source: petrified
The scientific name of the coconut palm is Cocos nucifera, commonly known as coconut, coconut palm, and the incisive coconut. It was first cultivated by Austronesians in the Neolithic about 12,000 years ago. Austronesia encompasses a wide variety of peoples and locations in the Pacific Islands all the way to Madagascar. In these very different cultures, the coconut was of central importance to the way of life there and is still so in many regions.
Coconut palms are very large in their natural environment and reach heights of up to 30 meters. As with other palm trees, the pinnate leaves break off from a central smooth trunk as the coconut grows. Given the right conditions, coconut palms will bear fruit for the first 6 to 10 years of their life. Although the fruit is considered a nut, it is a stone or stone fruit. Coconut palms-coconut are more similar to peaches or plums than pecans.
Healthy coconut palms will peak in 15 to 20 years and produce up to 50 fruits a year. The fruits are multilayered and are either extracted from the top of the plant or collected after falling to the ground. Some fall into the ocean and disperse over considerable distances. Coconut palms have shallow, fibrous roots that thrive in moist, sandy soils. They produce male and female flowers on the same inflorescence throughout their life and pollinate themselves. The flowers are yellow and puffy and surround young fruits that have yet to ripen.
Coconut is the most important commercial nut plant in the world. Not only do people around the world focus their lives on coconut palms, but the economies of coconut producing countries also benefit greatly from coconut production.
People in tropical settings are prepared to grow a coconut palm, but those in other regions can enjoy coconut in controlled settings as well. In areas where it is far too cold, the coconut palm can be used as a beautiful hand-shaped houseplant in the house. Palms grown in containers, while not producing fruit, are still unique and vibrant plants for you to enjoy!
Types of coconut
Although an ordinary coconut palm can grow up to 30 meters tall, there are several varieties that reach lower heights. Dwarf varieties grow to be between 16 and 30 feet tall. Semi-dwarf coconut palms reach the higher of the dwarf heights. Standard palms are the ones we discussed in the previous section.
A fast growing standard variety called Jamaican Tall has a crooked, broad trunk and is well adapted to the tropical surroundings of South Florida. Another variety called Malayan Dwarf grows slower but doesn't get that big. This palm produces three different types of flowers and fruits, which are available in green, gold or yellow.
Work has recently been done on growing coconut palms to promote resistance to the disease, deadly yellowing (LY). Malayan Dwarf has shown significant resistance to LY, making it a great dwarf strain for people in tropical areas of North America. Another dwarf variety that is resistant to LY is Fiji Dwarf, which is best grown in isolation from other palm trees in Latin America.
Maypan Coco Palm is a hybrid of a large variety of coconut grown in Jamaica to combat LY. The young coconut on this palm is green and the trunk is slightly crooked. It is also suitable for cooler areas on Florida's Atlantic coast. People in colder parts of the world also grow almost every strain indoors for ornamental purposes. The growth here is stifling, which makes it easy to contain a huge plant in its home region.
Coconut seedlings raised in tree nurseries arise from their seed shells. Source: tmmtx76
The best time to plant coconut palms (Cocos nucifera) is during the warm, wet summer months. However, coconut transplants are fine any time of the year. Transplant young coconut palm into 12 inches of soil. When planting in the ground, know that the coconut palm is native to the Pacific coast, South America, and other countries with tropical climates. Don't plant coconut outdoors unless you live in a location where annual rainfall is about 60 inches per year and relative humidity is 70 to 80%. Otherwise, grow them in a greenhouse.
Coastal areas are great for these plants, and cold weather should be avoided at all costs. Likewise, even large varieties do not thrive well in strong winds. Protect them from these elements. Since the root system is shallow, plant your tree in sandy, loamy, well-drained soil and allow it to take root. They'll take off pretty quickly with the right conditions. For plants in the ground, prepare a hole 2 to 3 feet wide and 1 to 3 feet deep.
Coconut palm roots should be planted just an inch or two below the surface of the soil. For container-grown coconut, a 3-gallon pot and at least 12 inches deep is best. For those who are grown in the ground in coastal areas, where the climatic conditions and ocean currents are right, build beds several meters high and wide that encourage drainage away from the roots. Coconut roots are sensitive to rot in low-lying areas. Place coconuts in the ground at least 30 m apart to avoid overcrowding.
Sprouts emerge from the "eyes" of the inner coconut shell. Source: tree species
Let's discuss all of the needs related to growing coconuts. If you care for them properly, you can get that lovely fresh coconut meat when your palms are optimally produced.
Sun and temperature
Since the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) thrives in the tropics, it needs at least 6 hours a day of full direct sun. Coco has a relatively small hardiness range – zones 10 to 12 – which makes coconuts a common occurrence in South Florida today and for a long time to the Caribbean indigenous people. These zones are the only ones within the USDA's jurisdiction that have adequate amounts of heat.
Coconut palms are extremely sensitive to cold. They take damage at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. At constant temperatures of 30 degrees, coconut palms will surely die. This is why it is so important to make sure your coconuts are in the right temperature conditions. As long as the humidity is at least 70%, coconuts can take a lot of heat. However, dry heat is not good for them. If there is insufficient humidity, fruit droplets can occur.
Water and moisture
In the morning, water your coconut palms around the base of the trunk until the top five inches of the soil are sufficiently moist. It's hard to overwater a coconut palm, but be aware that it doesn't like being flooded. Give your plant at least an inch of water per week in a container or in the ground. As long as your soil type is right and there is good drainage, you can water it in any format. In areas where palms are grown commercially for their coconut flesh, they are watered every few days by drip irrigation with liters at a time. Water more often in drier areas.
The only time you can hold back from watering your coconut is when it rains a lot in the summer and there is moisture.
Coconuts live in sandy soils or stony soils that are loamy. Well-drained soil is a must. They can survive on barren soils, but they won't produce as many delicious coconuts in these conditions. They have a wide pH range for growth, from acidic (5) to slightly alkaline (8). If you are planting a whole coconut palm in a container, give it a good palm soil mix. This will have the right balance of planting media required for growing it. If you want to make your own palm soil, combine 2 parts of potting soil, 2 parts of fertilizer or compost, and 1 part of sand. This also serves as preparation for planting these palm shade trees in the ground.
Ripe coconuts need fertilizer on a regular basis. Palms enjoy a wide range of macro and micronutrients, and luckily there are several "palm-specific" fertilizers. These contain an NPK of 8-2-12, with the addition of magnesium, boron and other micronutrients. They are also available in slow release pellet form. Spread this under the canopy at a ratio of 1.5 pounds per 100 square feet of canopy. Of course, this is greatly reduced when growing in containers, with less than one cup per container. Apply this fertilizer every one to three months if the weather stays dry for at least 24 hours.
Coconut palms are non-deciduous and only drop leaves as part of their normal cycle. Hence, they are green for most of the year, barring improper nutrients or growing conditions. They don't need to be pruned, but they benefit from the removal of old yellowed leaves once a year. In the larger varieties of South Florida, people climb ladders to remove old fronds. Early Polynesian travelers circumcised them by tying a sash tightly around their ankles that helped them press their feet around the trunk in order to climb it. This method is not recommended for those who have no experience.
The only mode of propagation is seed. When the coconuts themselves make a sloshing sound, the seed is ready to be planted. Lay it on its side with the three eyes tilted slightly upward, and bury it with sand to about half the thickness of the hard coconut shell. Maintain high humidity and temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit in full sunlight. Germination takes place and young palms can be transplanted at 6 months.
Harvest and storage
Inside the coconut shell there is an inner shell that contains the meat and water. Source: avinashbhat
This is probably the coolest part of a coconut plant: getting to that sweet, sweet solid endosperm that is coconut meat. There are so many more uses for coconut, however.
Once a coconut plant has reached full maturity and begins to produce fruit, harvest ripe fruit immediately or for up to 12 months after initial ripening. A plant grown for coconut water or coconut milk should be harvested no more than 7 months after it has ripened. Green coconuts (unripe coconuts) can be harvested when they are the size you want. Those harvested for coconut meat must be fully ripe before they can be harvested. You know a coconut is ripe when the water-filled nut lets out a slosh when shaken.
Harvest coconuts as mentioned above with a large sharp knife on a ladder for larger plants. You can also use a knife attached to a long pole if climbing isn't your style. At the base of the stem, cut off the bottom nuts and drop them below. Or put them in a basket or other container. Depending on which coconut products you want to use, there are different ways to process products. Cut young coconuts with a sharp knife to enjoy their fruit and water. If the nuts are fully ripe, cut off the shell with a very sharp knife. Use a knife to dig for coconut meat, water, and the inside of the coconut in general in the vulnerable eye.
From here, separate the shell and turn it into coconut fiber for gardening, ropes or mats. Alternatively, whip the nuts and dry them in the oven at 170 degrees for 10 minutes. Then puree the meat in filtered water and pour the meat out of the liquid. Heat the resulting liquid in a pan on low heat for 1 to 2 hours. Remove the remaining solids and strain the coconut oil into an airtight container. Store the coconut oil in the refrigerator for up to five years.
Fresh coconut meat can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks. Opened and processed, they can be kept in the refrigerator for 1 week. Roasted, shredded coconut will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 months. In each of these conditions, they can be kept in the freezer for up to 8 months.
Coconuts hang heavily on this laden tree. Source: J Fortune
While coconut is a fairly laid-back plant, it does need some attention in non-native regions (for example, in the US, outside of South Florida). There are a few things that you come into contact with frequently, so let's cover these.
One of the main problems coconut farmers face is Nutritional deficiency. These present themselves in the form of yellowish leaves and flowers or fruit drops. If there is a lack of nutrients, simply add palm fertilizer. Consult the Fertilizer heading above to determine which type to use.
If it too cold, Coco takes damage or, in the worst case, dies. Keep it in damp, hot and direct sunlight. If it not wet enough, the growth of your plant will slow down. If you live somewhere a coconut wouldn't get enough light from the environment, give the palm a growth light.
Coco doesn't value floods for long. If your plant experienced floods root rot may occur for more than a few days. Add or transplant sand in the ground if the area you planted it is prone to flooding.
There are some coconut pests to watch out for. Here we will only cover two prominent pests. Mealybug look like little balls of cotton wool that secrete a sweet liquid called honeydew on coconut fronts and fruits. Wipe smaller trees with a clean, alcohol-soaked cloth. For larger trees, spray insecticidal soap or neem oil every 7 to 10 days. Pyrethrin is a good option for larger infestations.
Coconut scales looks like a white scaly mushroom, but is actually flattened insects that congregate on all parts of coconut plants. These insects suck sap from the parts of the plant where they are found. Damaged parts of the plant can be removed to prevent spread, and the trick of rubbing alcohol works for problems with small areas too. If the infestation is larger, horticultural oil, neem oil or azadirachtin sprays can be applied every 7 to 10 days.
Leaf hoppers are often found on coconuts, but usually do not cause permanent damage to the tree. Unfortunately, they can be carriers of diseases, which we will discuss in a moment. Neem oil, insecticidal soap, or pyrethrin are effective treatments for cicada pests.
Deadly yellowing (LY) is one of the most famous diseases that coconut plants suffer from. Leaves fall from the fronds, fruits fall, and flowers also fall when LY is present. In the late stages of this cicada-borne phytoplasmic disease, the entire crown turns yellow. The only way to prevent LY is to plant varieties that are naturally resistant. In extreme cases, antibiotics can be administered, but these are often unsuccessful. If so, remove the entire plant and throw it away in the trash.
frequently asked Questions
Q: What is the difference between a coconut tree and a palm tree?
A: Coco is part of the palm family, but produces the delicious nut that so many people love.
Q: Where do coconut trees grow?
A: Coconut palms grow in sunny, hot coastal climates.
Q: Can I grow a coconut palm?
A: Absolutely! With the right expertise, you can at least grow a beautiful houseplant. If the conditions are right, you can still enjoy coconuts after many years.
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