Coconut Tree Guide: Grow Coconut Palm Tree, Plant, ID (Pics), Grow Zone

Woman at the beach looks and wonders about the coconut tree she see and wonders if there is a guide explaining how to identify coconut palm trees, how to plant and grow coconut trees, growing zones, care tips, and coconut disease prevention techniques.

The Coconut Tree needs no introduction, as its fruits are known the world over. In fact, it is one of the most famous trees on the planet,1 yet how much is truly known about it?

Many people grew up watching the Professor make radios, flying machines, and a variety of impossible inventions out of coconuts on Gillian’s Island, but there are some interesting facts about this particular tree that you might not know.

One of the first is that the fruit that you are all accustomed to seeing in the uppermost branches of the tree is not actually a fruit.

Officially, it’s a drupe.

And, that’s not all.

This guide explains everything you ever wanted to know about a Coconut tree, and why some palms have them while others do not.

Coconut Palm

(Cocos nucifera)

Low level view of Coconut tree with oval green frame, showing coconut tree fruits, palms and trunk.
  • Family: Arecaceae
  • Genus: Cocos
  • Leaf: Pinnate and 13-18 feet in length
  • Bark: Light gray and smooth
  • Seed: The seed and the fruit are classed as one and the same
  • Blossoms: Flowers are continuously emerging throughout every season
  • Fruit: The coconut fruit has a rock-solid exterior and very juicy flesh inside
  • Native Habitat: Tropical zones
  • Height: 50-100 feet
  • Canopy: 20-40 feet
  • Type: Broadleaf evergreen
  • Native Growing Zone: Fertile sandy soil at sea level
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10 to 12

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Not Evaluated


Is Coconut a Fruit? Is Coconut a Tree Nut? Or a Drupe? What Is a Coconut? (ID Pics)

In technical terms, the ‘fruits’ that grow on Coconut Trees are not fruits.

Nor are they nuts, but they are nevertheless referred to as such because that is what people have been accustomed to calling them.

When thoughts of a fruit spring to mind, it generally has a soft outer skin that is sometimes edible, sometimes not, and filled with a juicy interior that has a seed or several small seeds.

A Banana that has inedible skin and no seeds is a fruit, as is an apple that can be eaten whole and has a central core, yet both of them have a soft exterior, and both are considered to be fruits.

Graphic of Coconut Tree identification, showing coconut tree height of 60-100 feet, and coconut tree leaves, flowers, fruits, and trunk and bark.

The Peach, which has an edible skin and juicy flesh is classed as a fruit but is really a drupe because of the large stony pit in the middle, yet is known universally as a fruit. Plums, Cherries, and Prunes fall into this category.

A Coconut is more like a nut than a fruit as it has a hard outer shell that is not eaten, similar to a Walnut. Just a lot bigger, measuring up to 38 cm in length and 30 cm in width.

It has a roughly spherical shape and a hard, brittle, hairy shell that has, at one end, three indented holes that are called “eyes” and are made of slightly softer tissue.

The interior is rimmed by a white edible flesh called the “meat” or copra which is about 2.5cm thick and has a distinctive flavor.

A liquid referred to as Coconut water fills the center and is extremely healthy,2 and can be consumed as the fruit ripens.

These layers are called:

  • The exocarp: which is the tough husky green or yellow exterior
  • The mesocarp: the fibrous layer next to the outer skin
  • The endocarp: the inner stone pit found in peaches and plums and the thin woody layer in coconuts
  • The endosperm: this is the white edible part

A drupe in basic terms is a simple, one-seeded fruit that forms from an ovary and transforms into 3 distinct layers: the innermost (endocarp), the outermost (exocarp), and the middle (mesocarp), which can be either fleshy or fibrous; in coconuts the edible flesh is called the endosperm.

A graphic that shows the different layers of coconut such as exocarp, mesocarp, endocarp, and endosperm.

Now, Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, and Almonds are labeled as drupes because of the thickness of the hard exocarp and the edible seeds.

Differentiating between the terminology and deciding what to call a coconut can be a tad confusing. They can be all three, a fruit, a nut, or a drupe, but whichever description is used will not detract from the enjoyment they bring.

The Coconut Palm Plant (Cocos nucifera): Where Do Coconuts Come From?

The Coconut Tree has been widely distributed throughout the tropics for what seems like forever, so long in fact that very little is known about its native origins or how it came to be so widely dispersed.

Theories abound that the regions of Southeast Asia, and islands in the Indian Ocean may be the source of all things Coconut, but there is no definitive data to corroborate this information despite genetic testing.

The ability of the fruit to drift on ocean currents for a long time has aided in its dissemination across oceans and continents – and shrouding its origin – both by human intervention and natural events.

Upon reaching dry land, it was able to germinate easily and grow into new trees along the coastline, and can now be found from the furthest Hawaiian Islands to the southern tip of Madagascar.

Parts of a Coconut Palm Tree: How To Identify Coconut Tree

Easily recognizable, although not immediately distinguishable from a Palm Tree, Cocos nucifera, the Coconut Tree, has a rounded crown of long fronds in the shape of an outgoing fan and grows to an average height of 50-80 feet.

Coconut trees randomly planted on a flat grassy surface.

(Image: Teodor Kuduschiev22)

The long, thick trunk is one of its main characteristics that just rises up from a thicker base and has no leaves until it reaches the crown.

Coconut Tree Leaves

There are 60-70 spirally arranged leaves at the summit of the tree, fanning out in all directions. The leaves are split into 200 to 250 narrow leaflets along their pinnate structure with some of them growing to lengths of up to 23 feet.3

At the tip, there is an inflorescent spike that grows out of the leaf axil and it has anywhere from 20 to 60 individual branches.

Coconut Tree Flower

The Coconut Tree has to be credited for being one of the oldest flowering trees in the world, dating back thousands of years according to botanists.

It takes between 7-10 years for the trees to first bloom, the flowers developing in clusters on the stems of the leaves in big green buds called “spathes,”. These spathes house both the male and female flowers, with the tiny male flowers resembling lilies and a limited number of larger female flowers that resemble miniature Coconuts.

Not particularly attractive nor fragrant as flowers go, they are nevertheless very practical and efficient. After being pollinated, the female blooms mature into Coconuts within a short period of 10 months.

Coconut Tree Seeds and Fruit of Palm Trees

The actual Coconut is both the fruit and the seed and is classed as one of the biggest seeds in the Plantae kingdom. The seed leaf, called a cotyledon, is protected and fed nutrients as it grows along with the coconut.

It is located near the 3 eyes at the base of the Coconut which is also referred to as the germination points, and it is responsible for the continued existence of Coconut Trees.

When the entire seed is planted, the cotyledon goes through an amazing metamorphosis. It begins to develop from the germination points at the bottom of the Coconut by using the fleshy endosperm inside as a source of sustenance during this early development stage.

The endosperm is converted into a sponge-like substance that lines the entire cavity and this enables the production of the nutrients the developing plant needs to set up its roots and stem.

Coconut Tree Vs. Palm Tree (A Coconut Tree Guide)

Similarities between a Coconut Tree and a Palm Tree are so close that telling them apart can be a challenge, especially as they are from the same family.

In a technical sense, all coconut trees are palm trees but not all Palm Trees are Coconut Trees.

Close up view of Coconut tree fruits.

(Image: Suanpa23)

The leaves on Coconut Trees are wider compared to the palm trees and their trunks are typically smaller and not as wide as those of other Palm Trees.

But the main noticeable difference is in the bearing of fruits. Palm Trees produce a range of fruits such as the Acai berry,4 but Coconut Trees only produce Coconuts and a lot of them in never-ending bunches.

Let’s have a look at a side-by-side comparison chart.

DetailsPalm TreeCoconut Tree
Height200 feet100 feet
Rate of growth2-3 feet per year1-2 feet per year
Leaf sizeUp to 16 feet long13-18 feet long
Leaf shapeFan shapedPinnate
TrunkNarrow and scalyNarrow and smooth gray
Evergreen or DeciduousEvergreenEvergreen
FruitsAcacia berries, dates, nutsCoconuts
SunFull and partial sunFull sun only
SoilCan be planted in more varied soilsSandy and well-drained
LifespanUp to 150 yearsUp to 80 years

Palm Trees are a very diverse range of plants that range in height from a humble 3 feet high to a record-breaking 200 feet, with over 2,600 different kinds roaming the tropical and subtropical corners of the earth.

Coconut Trees are a bit more modest.

The long and short of it is that there are basically 2 types, dwarf and tall, with just over 80 variants.

Coconut Tree Growth Rate, The Types of Trees, And the Types of Coconuts

Depending on the cultivar and growing environment, it takes the Coconut Palm between 6-10 years from the time a seed germinates to begin producing some fruit, but it won’t reach the full production level that it is capable of until it is at least 15 years old.

Graphic showing coconut tree growth rate from year 1 (few inches to 1 feet), year 2 (2-4 feet), year 3(4-6 feet), year 4-15 (8-30 feet), and year 15 beyond (30-100 feet).

Once that milestone has been reached, an expected 50-200 Coconuts per tree can continue to be produced every year for the next 80 years.

It takes around 12 months for the fruit to reach full maturity from the moment it is set, and the optimal time to harvest drinking nuts is around seven months. For use in making copra and dried Coconut, the fruit must be picked at its peak ripeness which takes about 12 months and is typically harvested year-round.

Coconut type/CultivarHeightNative ToDescription
1. West Coast Tall Coconut100 feetIndiaOne of the tallest types of Coconut Palm Trees, it yields a few more Coconuts each year than the East Coast Tall type. The west coast tall Coconut also has a somewhat higher oil content in its Coconuts than other varieties.
2. Chandrakalpa Coconut50-60 feetIndiaIf you reside in a region with extremely wet and dry seasons, this is a good variety of Coconut Trees to have.5 With the ability to thrive in either too much or too little water, it regularly yields over 100 mature Coconuts annually.
3. East Coast Tall Coconut90 feetIndiaThe east coast tall Coconut is a popular variety and is easy to grow as long as the soil doesn’t get too moist. After 6-8 years, these towering Palms are ready to produce 60-70 Coconuts each year.
4. Panama Tall90 feetPanamaCold-hardy and windproof, the Panama Tall is ideal for subtropical zones where temperatures regularly fall below 60° or 70° F. It has a large-diameter trunk that is crooked and swollen, and either green or bronze-colored fruits.
5. Macapuno Coconut16 feetThe PhilippinesAn unusual Coconut where the interior flesh has a jelly-like consistency rather than hard, and again unusually, there is very little if any Coconut water inside.

Graphic that shows the types of Coconut tree such as West Coast Tall Coconut, Chandrakalpa Coconut, East Coast Tall Coconut, Panama Tall Coconut, and Macapuno Coconut.

Coconut type/CultivarHeightNative ToDescription
6. Maypan Coconut60JamaicaThe Maypan Coconut is a hybrid variety developed to combat the yellowing disease that posed a major threat to Coconuts in the area. It proved to be effective and thrives well to this day.
7. Jamaican Tall100 feetJamaicaThe Jamaican Tall is a stunning, quick-growing Coconut Palm with a canopy of dense, enormous, dark green leaves, with a swollen base and crooked trunk. Beneficially for farmers, it can yield up to 200 Coconuts in a year.
8. King Coconut30 feetSri LankaIts water content is higher than that of other types of Coconuts, and its beautiful orange husk is a bonus. Because of their high sugar content, King Coconuts are not only healthy providers of water, but also delicious treats.
9. Tiptur Tall50-60 feetIndiaA very productive specimen, producing up to 70-80 Coconuts after just 2 years. It has a green to brown color range and holds 350-450 cc of sweet Coconut water.
10. Chowgat Coconut16 feetIndiaThis species matures in 3-4 years when it starts to produce up to 65 enormous orange Coconuts each year. There is a lot of flesh and sugary water in the Coconuts themselves, making this a popular type in the region.

A graphic that shows the types of Coconut tree such as Maypan Coconut, Jamaican Tall, King Coconut, Panama Tall Coconut, and Chowghat Coconut.

Coconut type/CultivarHeightNative ToDescription
11. Malayan Yellow Dwarf30-60 feetMalaysiaThese small cultivated trees have pale yellow Coconuts,6 that weigh between 700-800g and will thrive in areas with lots of organic mulch and loose, well-drained soil. Two years after planting, it begins to flower, and each Palm can yield anywhere from 80 to 100 fruits annually.
Young nuts provide sweet water, though not quite as sweet as water from other Green Dwarf varieties. It’s the most popular variety and grows abundantly in at least 15 different other countries.
12. Fiji Dwarf25 feetFijiThis variety has large leaves and yields fruits that are either green or a dusky brown color. Even though it will take between 6-10 years before the fruits are available for harvest, the tree will then produce them regularly for the next 80 years or so.
13. Kera Sagara Coconut50-60 feetSeychellesIt takes this cultivar around 6-8 years to reach fruiting age when it will typically produce between 90-100 Coconuts per year.

Also, the oil content of this tall Coconut species is between 68%- 70%.

14. Green Dwarf Coconut30 feetMalaysiaThe Coconuts that are grown from this cultivar never ripen past their original green color. Nor does the tree itself get very tall so harvesting is easy, and the coconuts usually have more water and less flesh than the other Malayan varieties.

The coloring of Coconuts varies significantly across varieties and maturity, ranging from green to orange to brown, and from green to yellow to brown depending on ripeness.

A graphic that shows the types of Coconut tree such as Malayan Yellow Dwarf, Fiji Dwarf, Kera Sagara Coconut, and Green Dwarf Coconut.

Dwarf varieties are being hybridized and becoming very popular for several reasons

  • With the majority of dwarf Coconut Palms being short and stocky, harvesting the fruits is a lot easier than a 60-foot variety.
  • The time to the first harvest can be drastically reduced from 6 years down to 2 or 3.
  • There is no reduction, and sometimes even an increase, in the quantity of fruit produced every year.
  • It is possible to engineer the new cultivar to be resistant to certain diseases.

Unripe, or “green,” Coconuts are richer in Coconut water than their riper, brown counterparts, and are a fantastic by-product of the fruit. The refreshingly clear beverage has a mildly sweet taste with a host of health benefits which are being touted worldwide.

Coconut meat, regardless of the stage of ripeness, is also loaded with healthy fats and oils that can do everything from improving your immune system to aiding in weight loss and to lowering blood sugar levels.7

It is also used to make both Coconut oil and Coconut milk, a firm favorite ingredient in Asian cooking because of its rich, sweet flavor.

Coconut Tree Growing Zone (Coconut Tree Growing Zones)

The Coconut Tree is a plant that can be found in almost any tropical climate on the planet, basking in the sun in warm and humid coastal areas.

They thrive in sandy soils and salty environments that would be detrimental to most other species and are hardy plants, but saying that, a desert location would prove to be way too dry for them to survive in.

Graphic that shows the different growing zones for coconut tree such as Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, Florida, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Though they may survive brief periods of drought, Coconut Palms are actually very thirsty, requiring a minimum of 25 inches of rainfall a year under normal circumstances but in very hot and humid tropical environments, it want more like 157 inches a year.

The ideal climate for the health of the tree is where the winters are mild winters, not below 76° F as anything below this level and the fronds will wither and die off quickly when exposed to dry, cold air.

The temperatures in the summer months should not be above 93° F. with plenty of precipitation and consistent moisture in order to yield the best quality fruits.

In terms of daily sun exposure, a minimum of 6 hours a day is required.

Where Do Coconuts Grow? (Growing Zones for Coconut Tree Where To Grow Them in the USA)

Under the right conditions, Coconut Trees can thrive far away from the coast, and can even withstand a fair amount of wind despite the roots not being too deeply rooted embedded in the ground.

What that wind will do, onshore or inland, is occasionally bend the trunk until it is stuck in a near-horizontal position, an image of which is commonplace on many Caribbean beaches.

USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, as well as the warmest parts of zone 9, are suitable places in the United States.8 Any zone below that is just way too cold, and even in zone 9 if there is a sudden frost the tree can be killed off.

So, let’s have a look at just a few regular places where they can be grown in the United States and in which other countries.


The Hawaiian islands have a vastly different cultural background compared to the rest of America, but more than that is that it has a very enviable climate.

Throughout the year, the temperature really doesn’t change, it just fluctuates during the day from 76-85°F at sea level, dropping down to a balmy 12-18°F on a winter’s night.

If you wonder, “Is the Coconut Palm Tree native to Hawaii?” The answer is no.

The first Polynesian settlers brought it over and found that it did well in the tropical climate. Now, it is present on all of the 8 islands, including the unpopulated Kauō Island.

Eye level view of coconut trees planted in a row near the sea.

(Image: glue botasso 24)

Many of the kings and chiefs of centuries gone by saw the value of Coconuts and ordered the trees to be planted in their droves. They wanted the populace to benefit from the fruits and what other products could be fashioned from the trees themselves, but they also desired the trees on their land to cast shade on the royal fish ponds.

There are some ancient groves with hundreds of Coconut Trees that were planted in the 1860s, such as the national landmark that is Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove on the island of Moloka’i, where it is forbidden to walk through due to the dangers of being knocked unconscious by falling Coconuts.


Only one of two states in the United States, Florida still has only a few southernmost zones with high enough humidity and temperatures between 76-85°F that are capable of growing Coconuts.

Florida’s Coconut history begins on January 8, 1878, when the Spanish Brig Providencia, bound for Spain from Cuba, ran aground on its shores. Upon discovering 20,000 Coconuts in the wreck, the early Floridians recognized an opportunity when they saw it and promptly grabbed as many as they could carry, ran back to their homes, and planted them as fast as possible.

Fortunately, they acclimatized quickly to their new climate and the Coconut Trees are now prevalent all the way down both the east and west coasts of Florida, and play a major role in the economy.

Landowners who were further north and in the central regions of Florida were simply out of luck as any attempts at growing them resulted in failure due to the frost spells experienced in USDA Hardiness Zone 9 that proved to be too damaging.9

It is important to note that only young Coconuts are edible and that Coconut water should be consumed with caution. Basically, the water from a brown Coconut should be thrown away especially if it has an unpleasant smell to it, whereas water from a white Coconut can be consumed safely.


Surprisingly, despite its widespread popularity in this region, the vast majority of the Asian continent is not suitable for growing Coconuts at elevations any higher than latitudes experienced in Pakistan and China.

Yet the top producing countries are in this area, with 80% of the entire world’s supply coming from Indonesia, the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka.

Every year Indonesia is exporting around 350,000 tons of Coconuts but this pales in comparison to the 37 million tons of crude oil produced at the expense of Palm oil trees that are being cut down in their thousands every year.

Mexico and Central America

These two zones are perfect areas for growing Coconut Palm Tree thrives with enough tropical zones, sufficient sunshine, and regularly high levels of water.

Close up view of Coconut tree fruit.

(Image: Josch1325)

However, in neither place will you find any natural specimens. In fact, the first one to have been introduced was reported to have been first carried to Mexico’s west coast by Filipino colonists traveling between Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica to name just a few.


Africa is home to a lot more than just deserts and savannahs and tourist safaris with the second-largest rainforest in the world located in the area around the Congo River.

Now even though, Coconuts are not native to Africa, you can find them growing in numerous places along the river’s shoreline.

Traders and colonists brought them over from other parts of the world because Coconuts were a reliable source of drinking water on long ocean trips when water became scarce.

Some may have reached the shores of Africa after falling overboard and drifting on currents until they made landfall, germinated, and became trees. Today there are Coconut Trees from the central Angolan coastal areas down to the west coast of Senegal, and from the southern tip of Somalia to the northern areas of South Africa and beyond.


You would not be mistaken in thinking that the climate in Europe is not even close to ideal for growing Coconuts.

But there is one place, just one, where they can be grown with no problems at all.

Classed as being a part of Spain, the Canary Islands are located closer to the coast of Africa and are the only place in Europe where Coconut Trees and Palm Trees like the Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis) can survive the winter.10

The Canary Islands, of which there are 7, lie off the coast of western Africa. They have a similar climate that is capable of sustaining the Coconut Tree even though the climates are slightly outside of the typical range of the Coconut optimum growing zone.

Tenerife is the biggest of the islands with plenty of year-round sunshine, and the presence of Coconut Palm Trees has made it one of the most well-known tourist destinations in the Canary Islands also in part to having one of the only remaining active volcanoes in Europe.

When To Plant Coconut Tree for the Best Yield: When Is Coconut Season?

The months from May to September are the best times to plant a Coconut Tree if you’re looking for the best harvest it can give. But saying that, because Coconut Trees grow in tropical and some subtropical regions, they can be planted at any time of the year.

And then, once the fruits have become viable, the tree has a huge advantage over non-tropical trees in that it can continuously produce fruit year-round. This is due to the phenomenon where new flowers emerge every lunar cycle and as long as pollination occurs, new Coconuts will appear.

An added benefit of this is that every year a tree can produce between 100-200 fruits that can be available at any time

Coconut Planting: Growing a Coconut Tree From a Seed

Coconut trees are unique plants that thrive in tropical climates and if you live in USDA zones 10-11 or parts of zone 9, then you have a fair chance of being able to successfully grow your very own row of Coconut Trees.

When planting from the seed, there are two options available, and one is just as good as the other.

Close up view of coconut tree nuts cracked open showing white flesh.

(Image: zibik26)

Option number one involves purchasing a Coconut that has already been germinated at the nursery and is ready to be plopped into a hole and watered.

Option number two requires a more hands-on approach as the germination and seedling phase will be in whichever hand of yours has the green thumb.11

This approach admittedly has a few more steps but is worth doing simply to understand this stage of the plant’s growth.

  1. Purchase or collect a Coconut that is still in its husk, that still has its exocarp.
  2. Give it a quick shake until you hear the water sloshing around inside. If there is no water inside, it won’t be of any use.
  3. Take the entire Coconut still in its husk and submerge it in a container half filled with water that is lukewarm, not hot. Use a heavy object, even a stone, to hold the bobbing fruit underwater, and be careful not to flood your room.
    If necessary, pour some more water over the top to ensure that it is fully covered.
  4. During the next 3-4 days the Coconut will begin to soften which is the beginning of the accelerated germination period.
  5. Pour about 240 ml of lukewarm water into a sealable plastic bag and place the Coconut inside.
  6. To help create a humid environment, place in a dark location ideally next to a water heater or other source that emanates a certain amount of heat regularly.
  7. It will take between 2-3 months before the root will emerge, however, it is advisable to still check in on it on a weekly basis.
  8. At the first sign of a shoot, empty the water, wrap the fruit in a damp paper towel, and seal it again in the bag to further develop the root. When it is as long as your index finger or 6-8 inches (15-20cm) to be precise, the seed will be ready to go into the ground.

How To Grow a Coconut Tree and When Are Coconuts Ripe?

Purchase a few products if you don’t already have them on hand if the seed is going to be planted outside rather than in a container. A special potting soil called Kokohum can be used, or a mixture of vermiculite, potting soil, and sand.

If you have purchased an already germinated seed from a nursery, these next steps should be followed.

  1. When using a container either as a starter or for interior growing, make sure it is at least 10 inches (25cm) deep. Outside, place the Coconut in the hole with the pointed end at the bottom, and leave a third of the coconut above ground.
  2. Fill any gaps around the seed and gently tamp it down. Ensure there is sufficient sunlight and water 2 times a week.
  3. Spray it if located inside to create that humid atmosphere the plant craves, and cover it with a plastic sheet outside to make a mini greenhouse structure to get the same effect.12
  4. During the first year, all the nutrients that the growing seed will require will be supplied by the inside of the Coconut. After that year, a specific fertilizer containing boron and magnesium needs to be generously applied.
  5. If in the pot, the seedling should be transplanted into a larger one about every 2 years as it grows. Always leave half of the seed exposed to allow for the roots to spread out.
  6. It may take up to 5 years before any fruits are even visible, and then it will take a further 7-10 months before they ripen.
  7. This is the perfect time to harvest the fruit for the delicious water inside, or if it’s the meat you’re after, you may have to wait another 5 months for it to solidify.

Planting Tips for Coconut Tree (How To Grow Coconut Palm Trees)

They are incredibly easy to germinate, plant, and nurture to the level where the fruits are harvestable as long as the temperature is right, the soil is well-drained and there is enough sunlight to keep them happy.

But if not planted or cared for properly, you’re just asking for future problems.

How Far Apart To Plant Coconut Tree?

A distance of 20-25 feet possibly up to 30 feet should be adhered to. These tall trees have thirty roots and depend on a lot of sunlight for growth.

The last thing you want is for the roots to be competing for nutrients and the fronds for the sun’s attention.

Always Choose the Best Growing Conditions for Coconut Tree

If you haven’t got the ideal soil for planting, buy it. Use a specific potting mixture for the container or hole the seeds will be planted in so there will be no future drainage problems.

The Watering Needs for Coconut Tree Plants

Too little water and you’ll have problems. Too much water and you’ll have problems.

Use warm water 2 or 3 times a week and pour generously around the roots. As long as the soil drains properly there will be no problems.

When Growing a Coconut Tree From a Cutting

Although an accurate method of mimicking an exact copy of the Coconut so it tastes the same, it is mainly used only in commercial enterprises. A technique called the budding method needs to be used that requires a higher level of expertise that involves grafting a bud into the stem of the tree.13

It then has to be covered with plastic wraps to create the right environment and prevent drying out.

Close up view of a coconut tree seedling placed in between of a large rocks.

(Image: Vmenkov27)

Part of the risk of failure is that the two separate parts may ultimately not be compatible, so careful monitoring is crucial as is experience in grafting to increase the chances of success.

When Growing a Coconut Tree From a Seedling

The seedling selected should be 9-12 months old with a diameter of 10cm. It should also have 6 or 7 leaves sprouting from it to make sure it has a fighting chance of growing successfully.

Companion Plants for Growing Coconut Tree

Always consider carefully and choose wisely the range of companion trees and plants to embed around your Coconut Trees.

Fortunately, Coconut Trees are a friendly bunch and get along very well with other plants. Including these plants and trees under and around your plantation will ensure there are no problems with potentially diminished levels of crucial nitrogen levels in the soil.

  • Cocoa
  • Nutmeg
  • Aloe
  • Pineapple
  • Cycads
  • Banana
  • Ferns
  • Pepper

Other plants are natural and effective insect repellents, and including them at the top of the invitation list will bear fruit by protecting against certain diseases and warding off harmful pests whose sole mission is to do your tree harm.

  • White Hydrangea
  • Ginger
  • Red and White Clovers
  • Chilies
  • Fennel
  • Lavender
  • Queen Anne’s Lace

Coconut Tree Disease Prevention (How To Stop Coconut Tree Disease)

It is possible to presume that Coconut Trees have a reputation for being hardy and resilient under conditions other trees would find more than challenging. That doesn’t make them immune to contracting certain illnesses.

Some of the ones to watch out for have different levels of severity, but they all, in one form or another, bring harm to the tree and need to be identified as soon as possible.

Disease: Bud Rot and Nutfall

Caused by a water mold called oomycetes, they can cause a significant level of damage as the infection festers under unopened spear leaves. Over time, the leaves will peel away to reveal soft, pink-red tissue with a foul smell.

This early necrosis will quickly spread through the central crown leaves and the woody parts of the plant may have water-soaked, pink lesions with dark borders which will affect the development of the fruits.

Prevention and Control

To prevent the onset of this disease, get into the habit of watering the trees in the morning so that they can dry out over the course of the day. Removal and destruction of any diseased debris and dead trees from the plantation is recommended as is the use of proper fungicides to control the disease.

Disease: Ganoderma Root

When you notice that some of the older fronds are yellowing and withering even before the new, emerging ones can take over, it’s a clear indication that Ganoderma root rot has taken hold.14

Close up view of Coconut tree roots.

(Image: ASSY28)

The infection happens if there is an open cut accidentally made in the trunk, possibly by unsanitized tools.

Prevention and Control

Always make sure your coconut trees have space around them to allow air to pass through unencumbered. This fungus is more likely to take hold of your Coconut Tree if it is crowded for light or space by nearby trees.

But if it has taken a firm hold then the entire tree is better off being removed.

Disease: Lethal Yellowing

A pest called a Planthopper is responsible for spreading this disease and the symptoms are not pretty.

The premature dropping of the nuts is a clear sign as is the darkened area where the Coconut used to be. This process originates at the tree’s base and works its way upward with the fronds becoming yellow and eventually dying off, and where the blackened stumps now exist will be unable to produce any further fruits.

Prevention and Control

To prevent this problem, undertake steps to ward off the invasive Planthoppers, and if they are a problem in your area consider planting trees in the first place that are resistant such as the Malayan Dwarf.

An antibiotic called oxytetracycline HCI has proven to be effective but at the end of the day, it may be a case of having to remove the tree, roots, and all to prevent any threat of the infection spreading to nearby trees.

Another 6 types of diseases that attack parts of the Coconut Tree, and that you need to be aware of are

  1. Root wilt disease (Kerala wilt)
  2. Gray leaf blight
  3. Stem bleeding
  4. Basal Stem Rot
  5. Tanjore wilt
  6. Thielaviopsis Trunk Rot

Common Pests of the Coconut Tree and Natural Pest Control for Coconut Tree

There are pests that specifically target Coconut Trees, attacking the leaves, the trunk and even infesting the plant through the soil.

Some of the damages caused are purely cosmetic as leaves become yellow or wilt slightly as if starved of water.

Yet other signs are complete defoliation and holes in the woody parts of the plant that endanger the life of the plant.

One of the worst offenders is…

The Red Palm Weevil

The adult Palm Weevil and its larvae cause damage by eating the leaves and actively burrowing into the trees themselves.15 As many as 200-300 are laid by the females at any one time, and they relentlessly chew their way toward the crown completely out of sight within the trunk, creating tunnels as long as one meter.

Holes in the trunk are not the only signs of their infestation as the leaves start to wilt, the Coconuts start to leak when they have been penetrated but unless there are very visible signs of damage, the larvae and adults may kill the palm’s interior without leaving any evidence.

And when the interior has been riddled with tunnels, the tree will be in danger of collapsing.

If caught before burrowing into the trunk, infected stems can be cut off and insecticide sprayed to eradicate the rest of them. Otherwise, only the removal and replacement of the infested palms will suffice.

Close up view of a yellow coconut tree flower.

(Image: JoaoBOliver 29)

To prevent weevil infestation, clip leaves where the leaflets emerge from the stem when harvesting palms and consider the red-eyed assassin bug.

Even though it sounds contrary to logic to infect your plant with another bug, the red-eyed assassin will spend its time hunting down and eradicating the adult weevils, their eggs and larvae, and leaving your Coconuts and fronds alone.

PestMajor or MinorDescription
Black-headed caterpillarMajorAbout 180 tiny, greyish-white moth eggs are laid in clusters on leaves by the females. The larvae have a bluish-green color, with a dark brown head and rusty red midsection, and eat constantly for 40 days before entering into the next stage of their life cycle which is a 12-day pupal stage.

Visible damage can be seen on the lowest leaves which will have brown spots as the sap is sucked out by the bombardment of larvae and caterpillars.

Coconut Eriophyid miteMinorThis pale, worm-like mite is so tiny its two sets of legs on its front end and its leaf-sucking mouth portion on its tiny, slender head can only be seen under a microscope.

In under 10-12 days, it will transform from an egg to adulthood after going through two larvae stages.

Triangular spots of white or yellow are the first visible signs on the trees, and their constant feeding causes necrosis in the leaves.16 Brown spots, cracks, and splits form on the Coconut husk, deforming it and causing it to leak.

Coconut SkippersMinorOn Palms up to seven years old, the female lays about 270 oval, white eggs in scooped-out little cavities in the trunk. On older trees, she lays the eggs in natural cracks in the trunk.

Within a few days, the red-headed grubs feed on the inner bark of the trunk and then pupate in a cocoon for 36 to 78 days. After that period, adult rusty-brown colored weevils bore into the trunk.

Their incessant chewing causes a brownish liquid to seep out of holes and a gradual withering of the primary shoot in the crown where the inner leaves will start to discolor.

Rhinoceros beetleMajorThe adult male beetle has a large horn in the center of its head and is black and stocky. Females have shorter horns and lay their eggs in manure pits or decomposing plant materials at the base of the tree.

The grubs emerge white with pale brown heads, and at first, are quite lethargic. But when they attack the stems en masse the tree can be dealt a fatal blow.

Coconut ScaleMinorThis insect’s feeding causes the plant’s leaves, stems, and fruits to turn yellow, distort, and eventually die as it drains the sap from the stems. Because of its short life cycle of about 35 days with numerous overlapping generations per year, the Coconut scale is a pest of concern on Coconuts as it can lead to quite a large infestation.

Birds, bats, insects, and even the wind have all been implicated in the spread of Coconut scale.

Slug caterpillarMajorThe forewings of an adult moth are green, with a black spot towards the tips. There are 20-30 flat, shining eggs laid at a time on the undersides of leaves, and each incubation period lasts 6-7 days, and then a larval stage for roughly 42 days.

It spins a cocoon that resembles a small ellipse and is brown in color, convex on top and flat on the bottom, and covered in sharp spines and hairs. The damage they cause is essentially complete defoliation which can eventually kill the tree.

TermiteMinorThe dry season is the most damaging season for the infestation of termites in gardens.17 They nest in the soil, making their way to young Coconut Palms through secret underground tunnels. A significant amount of damage to Coconut palms can occur in tree nurseries or after being transplanted into the field, but a quick inspection or a change of the soil will unearth them.
White GrubMajorPupation takes place underground where the eggs will have been buried in the ground between 7 and 15 cm deep. Unripe nuts will fall off early, the leaves will turn an unhealthy yellow, and flowering will stop as the roots become grub food.

Younger trees are more in danger than older ones, but for either these little grubbers can prove fatal.

Lacewing bugs, Mealybugs, and Nematodes are a few other pests that are a threat to Coconut Trees, and as long as they are identified quickly there are solutions that can be taken to eliminate them and also preventative methods to ward them off in the first place.


Here are a few of them:

  • Employ neem oil and water used as a spray or scatter neem powder
  • Copper sulfate
  • Traps containing castor cake and water
  • Use companion plants to naturally ward off some predators
  • Biocontrol: the attraction of other bugs and ants that will prey on harmful pests
  • Maintain the area around the base free from manure and debris where pests can infest the tree and roots
  • Placing camphor balls on a few of the fronds will naturally keep some moths away
  • If the pests are visible and big enough, they can often simply be removed by hand
  • Ensure that the trees are healthy. Pests naturally infest trees that are sickly or weakened from waterlogged roots

Is It Possible To Grow Bonsai Palm Tree?

The short and long answer is yes, and no, and sort of.

There are two types of trees, the Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) and the Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) that look and behave like Palm Trees,18 but even though there are more than 2,600 types of Palm Trees technically are not.

Close up view of Sago palm, a type of palm trees that can be a bonsai palm tree.

(Image: Skok30)

One is from the Asparagus family, the Asperagacae, and the other is from the Cycad family, the Cycadaceae.

In a lineup, it would be very difficult to differentiate between the 3 families.

The Ponytail Palm is native to Mexico while the Sago originates in Japan.

Both are easy to grow for beginners as little bonsai trees as they are versatile, adaptable to different soils, and very low maintenance.

So, even though they are not Palm Trees, they give a good enough impression of one to fool a casual observer who is admiring your neatly trimmed bonsai tree.

How Much To Trim Palm Trees in All Grow Zones

No matter if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9, 10, or 11, at some time the leaves are going to need a trim as they are strong growers and can occasionally look unkempt.

To know how much to trim Palm Trees, a Palm Tree trimming cost calculator is a handy online tool that can help to see how where the prices will fluctuate between states but will let you have an approximate price even before you have to set foot outside the door.

The online quote will factor in the size, location, the condition of the tree, even if there is more than one.

Be prepared to spend in the region $60-$75 for a small Coconut Tree or between $200-$500 for an average-sized tree, but if it is taller than 60 feet, the cost will be more like $1,200.

As part of the service, the trees will be hosed down to remove any insects.

Additional expenses can be accrued for the removal of the tree if that is ultimately required and the price can trend upwards if the tree is in a hard-to-reach location.

Trimming a tree is not a very regular necessity, but sometimes they need to be done for cosmetic purposes and to maintain the health of the plant.

The Benefits of Knowing How To Grow Coconut Palm Tree in Your Backyard

The first benefit of having a Coconut Tree, whether big or small, in your backyard, is the availability of fresh Coconuts every day of the year.

They are easy to plant and virtually take care of themselves, if you have the growing zone required.

A small house surrounded by coconut trees on a beach.

(Image: allPhoto Bangkok31)

Home cooks will love having them around as Coconut water can be served as a refreshing drink at barbecues, Coconut milk also can be made from it,19 and the meat can be dried and grated to be incorporated into many culinary dishes.

But if you want to grow one in your garden just for its looks, then go for it. As an ornamental centerpiece, a Coconut Tree is hard to beat.

Coconut Tree Facts: The Coconut Tree Guide

There are a host of facts and useful information that is worth knowing not just to enable you to understand the inner workings of your newly established Coconut Tree but what benefits it can offer, not to mention its role in the history of days gone by.

  • Nutritionally, Coconuts are a source of healthy fats, proteins, and fiber, as well as potassium and manganese.
  • A Coconut Tree will drop the oldest fruits first which are the ones noticeable when looking upwards from the base, the younger ones growing on top. This is a natural selective system as the tree is constantly growing fresh fruits that mature at different times.
  • Bees are excellent pollinators as they are attracted by the nectar and flit between the male and female parts of the flowers as the male section opens first followed by the female part.
  • In the past, settlers utilized more than just Coconuts as a source of food. Ropes, materials to construct roofs, drums, bowls, buttons, and even musical instruments were made from all parts of the tree.
  • Given the nickname, the Tree of Life, coconut water was used as an IV solution in World War II and the Vietnam War due to a lack of other medical solutions and supply shortages at the time and it helped to save numerous lives in the process.
  • Did you know that Coconut flour, which is simply ground dry Coconut flesh, can be used in place of regular flour in many recipes? It can be used as a healthy alternative by those watching their carbohydrate and gluten intake.
  • Because of its high fiber content and low carbohydrate content, Coconuts can help to stabilize the levels of blood sugar. Both the meat and the water of the coconut are rich in antioxidants, and these help to protect cells from free radicals and against a wide range of illnesses, including cancer.
  • Anyone with a nut allergy will find it safe to eat Coconut as there is no adverse reaction, yet the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) still classes it as a trigger for anyone with a nut allergy.
  • Access to clean water is not always available on some remote islands so residents have come to rely on the refreshing Coconut water instead.
  • Worldwide, over 11 million farmers harvest Coconuts for a living.
  • Coconut Tree oil is an excellent source for making biodiesel.20

Growing a coconut tree can be a fun task, if you have the right conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coconut Tree

How Do Coconuts Reproduce?

Reproduction is through pollination of the flowers that have both male and female parts.

Is There Another Palm Tree With Coconuts?

No, only the Coconut Palm Tree which is in the same family as the Palm Tree, has Coconuts.

What Are the Fruits of Palm Trees?

Palm Trees grow Acai berries, Dates, Peach palm fruits, and Betel nuts.

How Much Sunlight Does Coconut Tree Need Each Day?

On a daily basis, a Coconut Tree needs a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight.

Can You Grow a Coconut Tree Inside? And How Tall Are Coconut Trees Inside?

As long as the exposure to direct sunlight, and the humid temperature required is in the correct zone, Coconut Trees can easily be grown indoors. Unlike in an outdoor setting where they can grow up to 100 feet, inside they will stop at about 5 feet.

How Many Years To Consider How Long It Takes To Grow Coconut Tree?

Reaching full maturity can take between 15-20 years.

What Are the Names of the Coconut Parts?

The outer skin is called the exocarp, the shell is called the endocarp, the husk is called the mesocarp, and the meat is called the endosperm.

Is a Coconut a Nut or Are Coconuts Seeds?

From a botanist’s point of view, a Coconut is both a nut and a seed.21

How Many Varieties of Coconuts and How Many Types of Palm Trees Are There?

So, how many types of palm trees are there? There are approximately 80 varieties of Coconuts, but just two actual types – the tall and the dwarf.

Are Palm Trees Native to California?

Are palm trees native to California? Only one species out of the 2,600 types of Palm Trees is native to growing in California and that is the Washingtonia filifera.

How Much Carbon Does Coconut Tree Sequester?

A Coconut Tree that is 100 years old will sequester about 1 ton of CO2 over its lifetime.

What Is the Traditional Coconut Tree Symbolism?

Historically, different cultures saw Coconut Palm Trees as symbols of fertility, and peace, while today they are mainly known as symbols of vacations.


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22Photo by Teodor Kuduschiev. Unsplash. Retrieved from <>

23Photo by Suanpa. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

24Photo by glue botasso. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

25Photo by Josch13. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

26Photo by zibik. Unsplash. Retrieved from <>

27Pulau-Melaka-Sprouting-coconut-2251 Photo by Vmenkov / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

28Photo by ASSY. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

29Photo by JoaoBOliver. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

30Cycas revoluta small Photo by Skok / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

31Photo by allPhoto Bangkok. Unsplash. Retrieved from <>