Coconut palms : sand v other soils

us_marineJune 30, 2011

I know coconut palms love sand. When I planted one of my coconut palms outside last year I used a sand and palm/cactus mix at about 60% sand, 40% palm/cactus mix. The palm loved it. I believe its root system grew faster than my oldest coconut palm that was planted in entirely palm/cactus mix. It had a fairly good root system as well.

Thats also a really good idea for my area do to our weather. Its hot and dry with low humidity & 100f's+ are very common. The bigger the root system, the more water it can take up when it needs it. Being in sand however, has a problem. It drains fast and dries quick. But since I need to water everyday anyway it not to much of a problem. The other issue is this, it doesnt hold on to nutrients very well so adding a little bit of palm/cactus mix might be a good idea. Its either that or using palm fertilizer more often.

Anyone else notice the difference in different soils? My question is this, which soil structure worked best for you? I am going to buy California beach sand and use a mix thats a little more sand, if not entirely sand. Reason is this, better drainage and drier roots in winter means a better chance of success. The palms seem to have a a healthier root system with sand. It also would be what one would naturally see a coconut palm growing in.

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I use standard potting soils and it seems to work very well. I have seen them grow in all kinds of soils, but they seem to need a lot more water in sandy soils (but they do like being soaked by rain and then drying out quickly).

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 4:14PM
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Hunter_M(Kentucky Z.6)

I just use Miracle grow cactus palm and citrus soil. I think its fine. Ive been wondering, whats palm "food"? And is is important?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 4:41PM
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Potting mix has alot of nutrients and does drain fairly well. It just holds too much moisture and being in california I believe part of the key is soil that holds little to no moisture in winter. I could have observed things wrong, who knows. But I am going to try it and see. Does your potting mix dry fast?

Thanks tropicalzone7!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 4:58PM
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@ Hunter M- Palm food is certain nutrients that palms use alot, usually it is slowly leached in the soil as you water. Or at least the palm food I seen over here is.

The cactus/palm & citrus mix is almost what I used on my orginal coconut palm that I had for 4 years. It worked pretty well too. I just think that more sand will be safer. They really dont like wet soil when cool. Cool is about room temp, maybe a little cooler.

Thanks Hunter M!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 5:07PM
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Some of the soils marketed as "Cactus Soil" just plain suck. One major brand seems largely composed of peat moss-awful.--I'll buy the stuff and then blend it with some humus and lots of coarse sand. Seems to work. I have yet to find any houseplant brand soil that I like and do not have to amend (for palms or any other plant)!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 5:23PM
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I cant speak for coconut palms but for windmill palms planted in sand they grow much slower.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 7:28PM
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I dont know why on earth do they lump cactus and palm soil in the same bag. They are completely different. I hate it when I go to HD and hear the "garden center associates" tell people...Palms? oh yeah here's a giant bag of cactus mix (peat moss). Then the palms dies all crispy and dried up. I am from the tropics, born and raised and I've never planted a palm in that trash cactus mix and all of my palms are beautiful. I don't even use that trash mix for my succulents!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 8:40PM
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I agree panama. Succulents do better in a mix of mostly sand and palms need a more balanced mix that drains fast but retains water.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 10:38PM
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Hunter_M(Kentucky Z.6)

@ panamajack: But my palms are growing fine in it and I have a majesty, coconut, needle, and some foxtail seeds growing in it.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 11:12PM
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@ panamajack- Yeah I thought that as well and I know cactus soil is usually poor in nutrients. I thought it would be better to plant in that because it drains well do to the sand already mixed in it. And we know too well the fate of coconut palms here in California. I also give them a palm fertilizer so whatever the soil lacks it gets from the fertilizer.

She wont be outside in winter but I want her to be outside as much as possible. In spring and fall the lows are often chilly so I am sure a coconut wouldnt want to sit in soil that is cool and wet. Thats why I think sand would be best for it do to that fact that it does drain well, warms up quick and coconut palm do just fine on beaches.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 11:36PM
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