Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Growing coconut trees

Growing coconut trees gives your landscape a tropical look, if you're lucky enough to live in a zone where they'll survive winter. The coconut tree originated on the shores of the Indian Ocean, but has spread to most tropical areas of the world. Grown as an ornamental and agricultural plant, coconut is a source of food, oil and timber in many countries.
As a tropical plant, there are few areas of the United States where you can be successful growing palm trees. In most other parts of the country, it is possible to grow dwarf varieties as houseplants or container plants. A few varieties may be hardy enough to withstand summers outdoors and winters indoors, but this does put a great deal of stress on the tree, so you'll need to plan carefully if you want to do this.
Growing Coconut Trees
Variety: Cocos nucifera
Zones: 10 to 11
Soil Type: Average soil requirements
Soil pH: 5.5 to 7.5
Sunlight: Prefers full sun
Watering: Average watering needs, reduce watering in winter
Coconut trees should be planted in full sun on slightly raised ground to improve drainage. Although coconuts are tolerant of different soil types, they will fail in damp or poor drainage situations.
Pruning your coconut can be an adventure, as some species can grow to be more than 70 feet tall. Most landscape coconut trees tend to be smaller, and they can be pruned with a machete or power trimmer. As coconut trees generate new growth in the center of the tree, prune outer fronds that point downward.
It is possible to grow your own coconut palm from the fruit of this exotic tree. Look for a coconut that has an intact shell. Shake the coconut; if you hear sloshing, it means the fruit still contains water and isn't cracked. Plant your coconut in a 50/50 mix of garden soil and sand with the flat side facing down. Cover the fruit about half way with soil and water, allowing the soil to just become dry between watering sessions. It will take several months for the coconut to sprout. When it does, it will come right up through a crack in the shell of the coconut.
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