Thursday, November 18, 2010

Growing a coconut tree

Coconut seed planted sideways and half buried in potting soil.
Apparently starting a coconut tree is pretty easy so we are trying to start one in our greenhouse.  You simply need a fresh coconut seed from your local grocery store.  (In case anyone doesn't know the coconut is a huge seed itself.)  You should be able to start a coconut tree in any warm sunny window in some potting soil, or outside during the summer.  We placed a coconut half buried sideways in a five gallon bucket full of potting soil to see what would happen.  make sure the top and bottom of the coconut are about even with the soil surface or just below and keep the soil well watered.  You can tell the bottom side of the coconut by the three "eyes", make sure these are about even with the soil surface or just under it. See the photos below of the "eyes".  The root will first appear out from between these "eyes".  This method of half burying the coconut mimics the seed being washed up on the shore by the ocean tide and partially buried in sand.  The coconut I found out is a fairly interesting plant.  It moves throughout the world by floating through the ocean until it is washed up on shore.  Coconut trees are limited to the tropics due to their inability to withstand frosts but even so, the seeds have been found washed up on shore as far north as Norway!  There is all kinds of crazy-cool facts about the coconut, including during WWII coconut water, from the immature coconut seed, were used for blood transfusions. 

For more information on the coconut check out Wikipedia:

We planted the above coconut seed about a month ago and a root nub appeared after a few weeks.  The nub hasn't grown much since that time but time will tell if its alive or not.  From what I've read coconuts grow well in hot humid environments that have no freezing temperatures ever, such as the tropics.  Unfortunately for us in Phoenix we get frosts about every three years, so our tree will have to remain in the greenhouse.  But at this point we don't even know if we can get the seed to sprout into a tree.  We'll report back if and when it actually works.

The three "eyes" on the bottom of the coconut.

This coconut is laying on its side, in the orientation it is to be buried.  The left side to the coconut is the top and the right is the bottom with the "eyes".  The line down the middle is a cut mark the grocery store puts in the shell to make it easier to break open.  Bury the coconut about halfway and in this orientation.


  1. Did it work? I want a coconut tree too :P

  2. Unfortunately we haven't been able to get it to work. We have started some with roots but then they always die for some reason. We will keep trying though.

  3. Did you try again, if so what was the outcome?

  4. I have tried about ten times with no success. From what I read, most coconuts are now refrigerated in the shipping process which kills them so they will not germinate. At this point I have given up...

  5. You have to put them in a bucket of warm water for 3 days weighted down with a rock that won't harm the seed. Then put the coconut in a sealed plastic bag and let germinate with a little water in a dark warm place (like above a water heater, just make sure it doesn't get to hot) for a couple of weeks. Then plant in half seed starter soil and half sand mixed together. Plant with the 3 holes facing up about 3/4 way to the top! The soil should be damp at all times not soaked in water it needs good drainage or it will die! The coconut should be planted in a pot at least 12 inches for the roots to grow. Use four wood sticks about 12 inches in height. Place one in all four corners in the soil around the coconut, then wrap plastic wrap around it to form a tent. Leave a small hole at the top to allow a little air. Use a spray bottle to dampen soil. Place in front of a window that gets full sun, or use a sunlamp! If using a sunlamp be sure not to overheat the coconut (about 24 inches away). When coconut reaches about 18 inches you will need to replant in a larger pot, or plant outside in an area that gets full sun, they can't survive cold weather! If planting indoors use a vaporizer that gives off warm steam to moisten the air periodically. Always keep the coconut palm in a bright room next to a window. They need lots of light!!! ;-)

    1. I got a coconut from Mozambique and I want to plant it. Should I remove the first layer as it comes from the tree or can I follow the instructions on soaking with that layer on. Ilze Buys South Africa