Coconut tree for fruit

JerryllMarch 26, 2012


I'm Jerryll.

I would like to ask you a question.

I have been obsessing about coconuts since I moved here from Curacao (Island in the Caribbean.. next to Aruba).

Instead of water... when thirsty you'd just go outside with the machete and violate some coconuts. Was as common as there are flies on sh*t.

Never was a big deal. Had more than 20 trees in my backyard...

Then I moved to Pensacola...

I scanned the post and everyone says the same thing.. and I believe you.

My question is though..

Being in zone 8B, is there really NOTHING that can be done to not only have the trees survive (as I honestly do not care about how they look.. as I said.. I grew up climbing them).. I just want them to produce fruit.

So.. blankets, mulching the ground, heat lamps aimed at the crown... anything.. ANYTHING... is there hope I can get my coconut water fix without having to pay 5 dollars for 16 oz of processed "cocowater"?

With humanities persistence and triumph over nature with so many innovations etc. etc. There has got to be something that should work.. no?

Not interested in the unrealistic solutions like a huge green house...

Any advise from people that succeeded? Idea's thoughts?

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Coconuts are notoriously tricky outside of the tropics. If you're looking for coconut water, perhaps a few trips annually to South Florida and collect as many in you car as you can stuff in your car. They reportedly can store for a long time. The polynesian explorers stuffed their outrigger canoes while they sailed across the pacific for months.

Some members here are successful with potted coconut palms as nice outdoor plants in the summer and bring them in for winter, if you're looking just for the look. There is also something called a mountain coconut tree from South America. They are not truly a coconut (maybe a distant cousin), but look a lot like a coconut. They might be hardy to your zone.

Love Cura�ao, by the way.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 7:27PM
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Honestly, and I hate to discourage anybody as I'm growing palm trees only 2 miles from Canada, I don't think it's possible to grow them in Pensacola. Winters just get too cold. One or 2 days at a time of highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s might not be the death of a coconut, but temps like that for a month or longer probably would. That being said, if you were to attempt it, your best bet would be against the south side of your house, wrap the entire tree in christmas lights running constantly throughout winter, with heavy burlap wrapping over that. Heating cables placed in the ground with the root ball when planted and heavy mulch to keep the heat in. It's worth a try if you're willing to do the work...

I know someone a few years back had a coconut growing for several years in St. Augustine I think, until it died from the cold. I think you may have a slightly milder winter than St. Augustine though. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Coconut palms grow like weeds in the tropics (whatelse can float in the ocean for days and land on a beach and keep growing!?) Outside of the tropics, good luck!
The tall varieties of coconuts make great potted plants, but will never fruit in a pot. Now anything is possible so you can definitely manage to grow a coocnut palm outside with LOTS of care and love.
I think I remember hearing someone in Coastal Mississippi (zone 9a) growing a coconut palm with protection. I cant find proof of that anywhere on the internet, but there was a pretty famous coconut growing in St. Augustine (zone 9a) without any protection for more than half a decade (as islandbreeze mentioned). That coocnut palm never made ripe fruit though.

You can definitely try to grow them though. You can build a structure made of styrofoam and a lightbulb (see some posts from arctictropical who grows more cold tolerant palms in his zone 4). Or if your not willing to do that much work, you can always get a greenhouse and plant a dwarf variety in the greenhouse. That would be a great way to grow lots of great tropical fruits like mangos, papayas, avocados, etc. And you already have a decent climate for fruits like citrus (The orange tree isnt on Florida license plates for nothing!).

I really think that a greenhouse would be the best way to grow a coconut palm in your climate. You probably wouldn't even have to heat the greenhouse (maybe some heat on cold nights below 25F). Make sure if you get a greenhouse it is a good 15 feet tall or so, that way you can enjoy your coocnut palm for many years!
It wont be too cheap, but nothing is better than eating fruit from home and if its something that you really would love to have, then give it a shot!
Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:45PM
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If its possible, it may not be, but it never hurts to try. It will need your help and will never be able to grow outside in winter with out your help. Expensive and alot of work too. If your like me then then your up for a challenge. lol.
Your two biggest problems will be: frost and lack of winter heat. If you can find a way to protect it from frost and give it winter heat you should be fine. Especially because your summers are long and humid.

Getting it to fruit might be a little more difficult. I've been told they need warm temps for along time to fruit and ripen. Just how warm, idk. It seems to me there is a fine line between growing happy and healthy to thriviving & fruiting. Some places in the tropics, like higher elevations dont have enough heat for a coconut palm to flower, but it will still grow happy there. I'm sure you already know, but this could be a problem for those out side of the tropics. However I seen flowers on coconut palms in South Florida in I believe April or May. So I think the key is having a long hot summer, with very warm/mild winters.

A patio heater might work, but the cost can be a con. As well as the fact that wind can blow the heat away from your palm. What might work is a temporary green house, even if it stays up all winter. I havnt built one yet, still deciding on what to do for my coconut palm. I'm afraid it will get to large to protect some day. But there are many members on here that have some great greenhouse/protection ideas that probably would work.

Good luck and let us know how it goes :)
- US_Marine

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 11:30PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Coconuts only survive in the lower third of the state. Even here the fruit is often immature Not sure about Pensacola but have you no "Green markets" around??
Most coconuts on commercial property have the fruit removed before ripening due to the falling hazard. So if a trip south is planned check your locations
My suggestion would be to forget about coconuts and grow some of those lovely heat tolerant ,apples peaches apricot paw paws nut trees etc.etc gary

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 5:29AM
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"Not interested in the unrealistic solutions like a huge green house..."
Sometimes unrealistic dreams require unrealistic solutions.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 8:07AM
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Like Tropiczone, I recall seeing a blog or something about a fella who was growing one either in Mississippi or Louisiana. I do not recall the details, except that he had an elaborate protection system/procedure going. Also cannot recall if it fruited for him. I would think keeping it alive would itself be a monumental accomplishment.

So, if you are willing to really devote time and resources, some level of success is possible.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 12:59PM
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Everyone. I have read your replies with a lot of attention. I thank you all. All the replies are what I feared and make sense. As I am a scientist, nerd, geek and an engineer I refuse such an insignificant tiny factor like "nature" beat me and keep me from my dear cocowater damn it.

I did consider the dwarf coconut type and a green house. That may be the realistic solution.

The Styrofoam with a bulb should work too.. I agree.. yet again more realistic for dwarf coconuts.

Yes yes yes, you all are right sadly.

OK I tried to play nice and consider the feasible solutions. Gloves are of now den konjo (as they say in Curacao). Back tot he drawing board.

I WILL get my nuts to bear fruit.. that is a promise. When I figure out how I will share with you all!

All you have to do is trick those stupid brainless plants that they are in the tropics...

How hard can that be..

Good luck to me!

And of course, thanks for all the effort and input. Feel free to post more opinions, or revelations on how to do it.

We can dootit!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 9:37PM
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Looking forward to seeing an update! I heard of a botanical garden in England getting a coconut to fruit in a greenhouse so if they can manage to get a fruit to form at 50N latitude in a greenhouse with lots of care, you might be able to do the same in a 25N latitude in a greenhouse with some care!
Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 2:21AM
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Botanic gardens don't usually have the same budgetry constraints that households do. They manage to do some wonderful things, with the right amount of money.

There's a few different dwarf coconuts available these days. But remember, the dwarf ones eventually grow quite tall. They just start fruiting at a much smaller size.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 4:01AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Kew gdns in the UK still has plant material brought back by Captain Cook. Obviously the only added ingredient necessary is heat there is a fascinating article of rebuilding the GH from wrought iron to stainless steel while still functioning. The heating cooling system is really ingenious.Still IMO the leading authority on plant taxonomy. If they don't have a specimen nobody does!!! lol
Good luck Jeryll!!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 4:38AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

"I WILL get my nuts to bear fruit.. that is a promise. When I figure out how I will share with you all! "

Hey man keep your nuts to yourself, LOL

sorry that made me laugh this morning.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:06AM
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ericthehurdler(NOR CAL 9a)

why not just buy fresh coconuts from your local market? Even in northern california they sell young and old coconuts at a mexican market for dirt cheap. Or waste money and time trying to keep a plant alive that will be struggling and definately never fruit. But if you have succes i would be very happy!


    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 5:02PM
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WEll you have a long and arduous task ahead of you... even if you could grow a coconut to maturity (difficult, though possible in a large greenhouse... even 'dwarfs' are pretty big trees and have a large spread (over 20'). But then the problem is getting them to fruit. Even in much of the southern part of Florida and much of Hawaii where coconut palms grow easily, they do not make fruit unless the weather is really tropical and is constantly that way. In Hawaii, just a mile or so from the coast, where these trees grow easily, they will still not fruit (just not tropical enough for them). And it takes a coconut tree many years to grow from a small plant to maturity, particularly in a greenhouse where sunlight is somewhat muted. Hope you are young!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:01PM
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@ ericthehurdler


Because I do not just want the coconut trees to enjoy the fruit occasionally. As I said... I have been brought up drinking this.. (not water). As someone else mentioned earlier... coconuts sprout like bad weed in the tropics. They are everywhere. And when you find them, the floors are covered with the nuts. I want to have the water every time, all the time. Unrealistic for most Americans.. maybe. But I want this and will fight for it.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 9:36PM
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I will post pics soon..

but check what I found...

My local home depot sells coconut trees (3 ft).. for about 14 dollars and according to their lable they are resistant till -1C

About 30 F.
The kid that works there told me he has seen some coconuts out there (Pensacola) that bears fruit.

me personally NEVER seen any... But maybe my eyes are set to Curacao frequency.. who knows...

So here is my plan.

I will buy about 5-7 of them...

treat them more dear and tender than my own nuts!

After a year or 2 as they mature I will plant them out side, and physically mount heating lamps on their trunk aimed at the crown and leaves (should look very pretty at night... if I cared that is.

Now... to that dumb plant, it would think it was in the tropics .. no? well as far as "above ground" is concerned.

Any ideas how crucial it is to keep the root system warm?

Here is a dumb question...

Is the dirt at that dept actually colder.. or warmer then the outside temp?

What do you fellow coco-obsessed freaks think about this train of thought?

Again, thanks for putting up with my crazy talk and entertaining this thread.


the tropical monkey

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 9:45PM
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You could always move down to Ft Lauderdale or some other part of Florida where growing these will be easy. My late grandfather used to find sprouted coconuts at the beach and plant them. His "grove" still stands to this day.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 11:43AM
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WE have had dozens of southern California palm growers plant these in heated soil, warmed with lights, heaters, blankets etc. and almost none get these to even live any length of time, even less ever produce a fruit. But some succeed to keep them growing and some even live in a great microclimate that allows these things to live for years on end... but no hope of any even possibly ever making a coconut fruit.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 5:42PM
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My personal suggestion is to either:
1) Buy a wagon that you can keep the pot on, move it in and out.
2) Build a structure around it or cover it during the winter.
3) Move somewhere from St. Pete Beach or further south on the west coast, or from Indiatlantic Beach south on the east coast.

I'm about 5-6 hours south of you, a very reliable zone 9a, and I can tell you they are still a fool's errand here in Lakeland. Just from my own experience, even using a Jamaican Tall, putting it on the south side of a house didn't keep it alive through a single winter. To keep one alive here, I have to cover it or bring it in any time the temperatures go near or below 45F. Getting them to live here is a challenge enough, without even worrying about fruit.

The coldest place I've seen them actually do well is around the lake in Sebring (9b/10a). That's another 2 hours south of me. I'm not sure how many are still alive down that way after our two very chilly winters before this last one. Even at Vero Beach, anything west of I-95 is either fried or darn close to it.

If you are still bent on trying it out, make sure you keep the thing covered anytime the temperatures are predicted to go anywhere under 45F. It might keep the ground warm enough, and the frost off of them.

Better yet, go to the career sites, find a job in Southeast Florida and save yourself the headache.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 7:51PM
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Bamatufa(7 - Trussville, AL)

I purchased one from walmart and did well during summer outside. Moved it inside basement early fall, placed it on a water bed heat mat and it had no chance.Basement never fell below 60 plus it was sitting on heat with lights.It died within a few weeks.However,I am the electrical business and they make heat trace cable used to keep refrigerator lines from freezing up in commercial and industrial applications.Heavy duty stuff.Look at this if you plan to give a try.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 8:37PM
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@ lzrddr- Have you tried one outside yet, and if so what are your observations? I'm trying to gather as much info as I can about coconut palms in California, but thats been a task,lol. I tried once up here in NorCal, got one to live until either the 2nd or 3rd week of Jan.

@ bamatufa- 60f is on the low side, but I think it died because it didnt get any sun light.

- US_Marine

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:27AM
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You can keep the ground warmer by putting a lot of compost/mulch on it, cover it, and don't allow too much water to go through it. In the tropics the soil does stay warm to quite a depth regardless of outside (upside?) temperatures. However, day time the air would heat up higher than under the ground and nights it would be the reverse.

The coldest air is closest to ground level. So a tall coconut enjoys warmer temperatures at its growing crown than the base of the (reasonably well insulated) trunk. But you have to get the growing crown up to that height, which would take quite a lot of winters.

The coconut also needs very strong sunlight. Heat lamps shining up from underneath won't be a substitute. You'd need to have strong grow lights above it.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 11:02PM
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