coconut temptation

cattman(z10a FL)February 27, 2011

Cape Coral area here.... Bought my home in Summer '09 on a big blank lot, have been adding coconuts both years. The '09-'10 winter wiped out nearly everything I'd put in, except for 4 small golden malayans in the front. Last year I put in some larger coconuts with about a foot or two of clear trunk. This past December was bad, mid-February we turned warm and haven't looked back. All coconuts started growing, but now suddenly 3 of my 4 green maypans look like they're in a rapid decline.

A couple weeks ago I stumbled across a palm nursery that's been bought to be converted into a horse farm. Rows and rows of potted palms, look like they were abandoned a couple months or more ago. Area went to 24 degrees, so some palms are living and some are not.

The guy is willing to let the coconuts go for pennies on the dollar. The goldens have new growth rising up from the centers, so clearly have decided to live.

Here's my dilemma: All palms have rooted through the bottoms of their pots, so are going to get a shock when they get chopped loose from there to go home with me. If I even do this at all, is now a good time to transplant coconuts, or is it still too cool? (Where I live we're hitting about 81 every day, dropping to 60 every night.)

In the same vein, a friend told me that someone in Boynton Beach area is advertising big coconuts (field-grown, I'm assuming) for $50 apiece. I have the same fear; I haven't seen them but all the palms over that way that I HAVE seen, have cold damage on them.

I need to add several more coconuts to complete the planting plan I have for my property, and with spring having come so early, this looks like it could be the year to do it. But with two rough winters in a row, I've not had great success getting coconuts established here. Maybe it's just the maypans I need to worry about; maybe the golden malayans are the answer.

Any input would be appreciated. (And hey, for you South Floridians, I'd be happy to find a buddy to go plant shopping with. I run to Homestead about once a month, am not averse to making some plant buddies on East or West FLA Coast. Check out my profile here and let me know.)

Thanks again!

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It looks like now is a good time to plant. Its very mild in Florida and I definitely don't think you will be getting a frost or close to it. Fertilize it well and it should recover from the possible transplanting shock. Hopefully next winter wont be as bad as the past 2 and your coconut palms will finally get a break.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 9:57PM
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cattman(z10a FL)

Hey Alex - thanks for the reply! I'm guessing some fertilizers are better than others when transplanting palms, so, any suggestions? Every Tom, Dick and HomeDepot sells what they call "palm fertilizer", but the needs of established palms may not be same as new transplants.

I just doublechecked the Accuweather 15-day forecast for our area; mid-70s to low-80s days, nights in mid-50s for the most part. Actually a slight cool-down from what we've had, but should be fine for palms, I'd think.

Many thanks!


    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 11:05PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Thought of changing your plans as to species?? Coconuts are by far one of the most sensitive of palms.
Since you live in s. florida there are dozens of better choices. They are also tough to work into an overall landscape plan. They are messy consume a lot of space.
They ARE beautiful lol You can check for methods with either floridata or Fairchild gardens for recommendatiuons and methods. Good luck with predicting the weather especially for years in advance lol gary

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 5:15AM
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If the coconuts you are considering buying have roots busting out of the pot, then those are perfect for planting... that round-boundness condition is one in which the palms are least likely to go through any shock upon platning, much more likely to do great than any less root bound palms will fare. Just cut the pot away and plant- just plant in a narrow hole and back fill with soil you took out of it, and cover with a good layer of organic mulch (I would not put in much fertilizer yet, though you can water with a diluted fertilizer solution without any problem- just don't use much granular stuff unless it's super slow release.. and still be very carefull not to apply any directly to the roots).

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 10:51AM
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cattman(z10a FL)

Hey there, thanks for the replies! Gary, I'm part of the "Gilligan's Island" kid generation; I grew up wanting to have coconut palms years before I ever cared anything for gardening. I know coconuts are big, messy, and fussy about the cold. They're also unmatched for that quintessential tropical look and feeling!

To be sure, I do want more and different palms at my place, though. This is exactly why I bought a home on a triple lot -- with virtually nothing planted there except grass! What other palms do you favor, Gary? So far I have two cold-hardy chamaedoreas (in pots, waiting to go into the ground until I can get some shade grown up). I have some ptychosperma elegans, and want some macarthuriis unless someone can steer me toward an even better clustering palm with that "bamboo look" for half- to full-day sun.

I have some veitchias, young ones but they're doing great. I have two flamethrower palms, one of which is still too small to plant out. My licuala grandis are NOT going out into the landscape! I'm planning to ditch my 2 ancient queen palms, one of which is almost rotted in half thanks to wounds from Hurricane Charley. And I plan to ditch the Christmas palm trio out front -- big, pretty trees, but the 2 winters I've had here put more burn on 'em than I'm willing to tolerate. (Happy to trade these to a palmsman!)

I want to ring my circular drive with Royals. I've found someone in Loxahatchee with ribbon palms, something I've never seen before but really love, which I'd like to put down the property line. I hear they're completely cold-hardy here.

I'd love some more ideas for palms. My Archontophoenix Cunninghamias are burning badly in the full sun, even after a year. I just added a young cecropia nearby to try to cast some shade their way in the next year or so. And my foxtails are Normanbyi, which doesn't seem to be so vigorous here as Wodyetia ... sigh.

Lzddr, that is great advice on the condition of the palm rootballs! I feel much less fearful of acquiring these coconuts now. Makes sense that they might move with much less shock than something purely field-grown/not containerized.

I know this is a long post/reply, but I'm very fired up about my yard this spring, and about the early warm weather that has stayed. I've got visitors coming in April for the first time since I moved here, and want to make a big impression when they arrive. So thanks again guys!!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 12:45AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Started out in that generation but have moved over to
"Isn't there anything easy?? lol
I have a very small lot so choices are limited .
There are over 1700 kinds of palms most of which have NOT been used as landscape plants so still much territory to explore. that's why I recommended the above sites .
I'm into small ,hardy spectacular flowers or delicious fruit if they are going to be finicky lol
good luck with your new landscape sounds like fun especially if I don't have to do the work!!! gary

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 2:35AM
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cattman(z10a FL)

Hi Gary -- wow, 1700 kinds of palms; that alone is inspiration to keep hunting for some more oddities. Gotta be a few "out of the ordinary" that will look great and do great in Zone 10-a!

I'll check out Fairchild's online presence, and Floridata, see what I can find out. In the meantime, just in the last 3 days my three stricken Green Maypans have clearly decided to kick the bucket. My Gold Malayans are, in marked contrast, growing nicely.

I don't have a lot to spend, but as I add palms this spring, I'll try to remember to keep posting, either in this thread or on a new thread here in the Palm Forum.

BTW, Gary, what are your "small, hardy spectacular flowers"?? That word "spectacular" is appealing!


    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 12:25AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I'm at the opposite end of gardening lol Trying to downsize
and organize what I have into a manageable mess lol
By "spectacular" I meant orchids Bromeliads of course but may have overstated "hardy"lol Some are some aren't but all are spectacular lol
Both are "collector" plants for sure and you can cram in a hundred in the space of a palm lol
Be warned there are over 60,000 species of orchids alone!!!
Go slow get a good landscape plan and explore all the possibilities of what can be grown due to the climate.
with alternative methods.
Visit some of the gardens to get an overview and find your interests Selby in Sarasota for orchids Fairchild for palms many places for broms.
A vist to Searle Bros. for Palms (bring lots of money)
lol) At least youi'll get to see if not actually own some of the rarities. Attend some of the sales staged at the public gardens very good prices and incredible selections.
I can't go to these anymore because I always come home with something,heck I can't even go to home depot or walmart!! Good luck and keep us informed of your progress!!! gary

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 5:48AM
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cattman(z10a FL)

Thanks for that, Gary! Another weekend, more temptation!! Headed to Home Depot to see what's in stock this weekend, and planning to go over to that palm nursery on the East Coast and see how the golden malayans are doing. My bonus this year is supposed to hit next Friday, and there are definitely some more palms in my future!!

I'll keep you posted on what trouble I get into ....

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 5:34PM
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Hello Cat,
Purchased our retirement home(not retired yet) in the NW Cape winter of 09. Thank God I did run into you before we purchased our palms and fruit trees. I wouldn't have had enough money to furnish the place.
As you can see by the photos the place was virtually baron.
We planted foxtails, phoenix sylvertris, a couple of coconuts, and a ribbon palm as well as a bunch of fruit trees. The coconuts took a hit the last two winters, but so far they are holding their own.
It can be addictive especially for us Notherners who like the tropical look. Good thing I didn't know about the abandoned coconuts you are talking about. Somehow I would have stuffed a couple into the small rental car we had.
Might try some bamboo. There's a place in Punta Gorda that is suppose to be pretty good. Just wish we had as much space as you do.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 12:39AM
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cattman(z10a FL)

Hey Brian - thanks for posting the pics, and kudos on the plants you've added! How's your experience been with the ribbon palm? Is it slow- or fast-growing?

I'm starting to take some pics at my place, but have been having trouble with all things software. Camera has trouble downloading its pics to PC, and I don't know how to put pics onto GardenWeb. But I'll work it all out sooner or later.

Is the nursery in Punta Gorda a bamboo nursery? I've been out in the "wilderness" east of there, to a nursery that Garden Web says I'm not allowed to name here(!) Usually go there for flowering trees, bought a rare form of avocado there as well. Haven't been to any other places up that far north.

A famous seed bank and farm in North Fort Myers area has a demonstration garden with bamboo, and they sell bamboo plants. I'd love to have a clump, just know that I don't have the space.

Again, thanks for sharing!


    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 1:32PM
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Thank you for your comments. We planted the ribbon palm(located between the coconuts in photo #2)last summer, but it is too early to give you much of a growth report at this time. We did lose some of the lower fronds during the cold spell in December. New growth was observed in January when we were there. It supposed to be a hardy palm, that's why we planted it.
Do a google search for "bamboo Punta Gorda" and you will get the nursery link for you to check out.
We have purchased a few fruit trees and took a tour of the North Ft. Myers seed bank you are talking about. They know their stuff. That's where I got the bamboo idea.
I also took a soil sample to the Lee Co. Extension in Ft. Myers and had it tested(for free). Our soil PH was high 8.0.
We purchased our palms in the "Wilderness". Quite a few nurseries there.
Also, do a "post photos" search on this site and you will find instructions on posting photos.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 3:07PM
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