Historically, the coconut tree is considered a symbol for holidays in the sun. This plant brings us back to fond memories of relaxation and recreation. A good idea would be to grow your own coconut tree to enjoy its evocative shade. In addition, growing a coconut tree means having a decorative plant that will embellish the interior of the house. Furthermore, its nourishing fruits regularly produce milk suitable for the most demanding taste buds.

The coconut tree, known by the scientific name Cocos nucifera, comes from Malaysia. Its ultra-durable nuts, carried by ocean currents, have spread to all beaches of the globe. It belongs to the Arecaceae family, with a stem instead of a trunk and fronds as leaves. The whole plant is useful to humans and the coconut contains a highly nutritious and refreshing juice. Coconut meat, called copra, is processed into various consumer products such as household soap, cosmetics or cooking oil. This pulp is the result of the coconut milk’s gradual evolution, and sometimes the coconut tree’s trunk is used by local people for building houses and huts. The coconut tree is so useful that Tahitians consider it to be the tree of life: one that protects and nourishes.

Optimum conditions for planting a coconut tree

The coconut tree is the distinctive vegetation on exotic beaches and several factors explain this fact. It is a plant that can only live in high temperatures. Ideal temperatures vary between 77 ° F and 86 ° F for a coconut tree to be in perfect health. Although it can withstand relatively low temperatures, long exposure to a harsh winter damages it over time. The coconut tree deteriorates at temperatures below 50 ° F and because of its attributes it is especially adapted to sandy soils. When conditions are optimal, the coconut tree spreads out to reach an average height of 100 feet. Clumps of palm trees then evolve to a height of 20 feet. Pinnate leaves are sufficiently developed to collect the sunlight necessary to the tree’s survival. In addition, they require lots of water throughout the year.

How to plant a coconut tree?

Ideally, the planting of coconut trees is carried out near the sea. The perfect altitude is between 0 and 650 feet above sea level. It would then benefit from sandy soil and spindrift coming from the ocean. Ultimately, it can be inserted in a pot containing a mixture of potting soil and sand in an 80% proportion. In this case, it needs to be regularly exposed to sunlight. There are 2 ways to grow coconut trees and the first method consists of planting a coconut seed in hot sand. The coconut will be buried down to three-quarters of its diameter. It will take two to three months before germination takes effect. The second method is to replant coconut shoots obtained from mature plants. Beforehand, make sure that the removed shoot includes many visible roots, a minimum of 2 fronds and a live terminal bud. First, grow the shoot in a mixture of damp sand and peat. After 3 months, when the shoot is well-developed, plant it in a hole with fertilizer, sandstone and a little potting soil. It is recommended to install the coconut tree behind other plants to protect it from sunburn and strong winds. The coconut tree keeps growing until its seventh year. From there on, it yields 60 coconuts annually until its 70th year.

How to maintain a coconut tree?

The coconut tree needs 50 ft3 of water per year and thus it must be thoroughly watered except in winter. In summer, more fertilizer, specifically destined for green plants, will be added for good growth. This plant cannot stand the cold and should be brought indoors during the winter. Another option to avoid low temperatures is to grow it in a greenhouse, but it is necessary to have humid air. Like other plants, the coconut tree will be better off if its dead leaves are regularly removed. In order to always keep the plant green, healthy leaves will be cleaned with tap water. Regular maintenance allows us to see if if there are any scale insects or spiders on the plant’s stem. If that is the case, corrective actions will need to be taken.

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Published in Exotic trees by Alexander on 06 Jul 2011