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How to Plant a Coconut Tree in the Ground

Before you can plant a coconut, you’ll need to germinate the coconut seed. This can be accomplished by soaking the coconut in water for 3 days. Then place the soaked coconut in a pot with at least 12 inches (30 cm) of soil. Leave it somewhere warm and water frequently. After a few weeks, a shoot will begin to develop. At this point, you can transplant your coconut seedling to the great outdoors. You also leave your coconut plant as a potted plant but it will only live 6 years and likely not bear fruit.

How to plant a coconut tree in the ground

4 Steps to Plant a Coconut Tree in the Ground

Coconut palm trees are rather simple to grow. Once a seed germinates though, you can easily transplant it. Below, we’ll cover the crucial steps to taking your seed from germination to planting in an outdoor location.

Germinate the Seed

The germination process involves letting a shoot develop from a planted coconut indoors. First, take a coconut that still has the coconut husk and shake it. You should hear a sloshing sound from the coconut water. If you do not hear sloshing, do not proceed until you have one that sloshes. Place your coconut husk in lukewarm water for 2–3 days so it can soak.

  • When growing a coconut from seed, choose a husk that sloshes when you shake it.
  • Prepare the seed by soaking it and then planting it in a pot that can be stored in a warm spot.
  • Water frequently and wait for signs of germination before transplanting. 

After soaking the coconut husk for 2–3 days, fill a 12-inch deep (30 cm) potting container with well-draining potting soil. Make a hole that is big enough to fit 2/3rds of the coconut husk. Place the coconut husk pointy side down in this hole and backfill. Take care that 1/3rd of the husk is exposed above soil level. Place this container in a warm spot location around 70℉ (21℃). Water frequently to keep the soil moist but not wet. Soggy soil will ruin the germination process. Continue watering until a green shoot sprouts from the husk. This can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months.

Scout the Ideal Planting Location

A coconut palm will need optimal conditions to grow in so you’ll want to find a warm location with loamy soils. Other conditions coconut palm trees prefer include a humid environment (dry climate will not be tolerated), well-draining soil, and a sunny location. 

  • Coconut plants do best in tropical climates with high heat, high humidity, and plenty of sun.
  • Choose a location where your coconut tree will receive full sun (at least 6 hours of sun per-day).
  • Plant coconut trees at least 40 feet (12 meters).

Coconut trees need full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day) for ideal growth. Coconut roots can also grow 32 feet wide (10 meters) so be sure to plant your coconut plant a safe distance from buildings. You can choose to grow indoor palms instead though they will live only 6 years and never bear fruit. Only outdoor coconut trees will live their full lives and bear fruit.

Transplant

Dig a planting hole that is just big enough to cover the bottom 2/3rds of your pre-germinated coconut. Gently pull your coconut out of its first container and brush away any lingering soil. Take this time to straighten any tangled roots. This will help the roots to spread out more and ensure proper growth down the line. 

  • It’s important to remove your germinating coconut out of its container without damaging the roots.
  • Plant the seedling at the same depth outside that it was planted in its container.
  • Do not fully cover your coconut seed with soil.

Place this seed into the hole with the roots facing down and backfill with dirt. You want to leave the top 1/3rd of the pre-germinated coconut exposed. Make sure that you only cover with dirt up to the existing soil line from the germination process.

Post-Planting Care

Once your coconut is planted, it’s time to provide a layer of mulch. Any organic mulch such as grass clippings, dried or composted leaves, pine needles, or straw will work. You’ll want to spread the mulch 3 inches deep (7.5 cm) and up to 8 inches (20 cm) from the tree trunk. 

  • Spread a layer of mulch 3 inches deep (7.5 cm) in an 8-inch (20 cm) diameter around your new coconut tree.
  • Fertilize your coconut tree after planting to encourage it to establish new roots.
  • Water a newly planted coconut once per week.

Next, it’s time to provide fertilizer and water it into the ground. You can also use liquid fertilizer to soak the nutrients into the ground without the need for additional watering. Use this organic fertilizer to provide your coconut palm with all the nutrients it needs. Be sure to water weekly to keep your plant nourished.

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How Deep Should a Coconut Tree Be Planted?

A coconut husk should be planted roughly level with the soil. Insert the pointy side down and leave the top 1/3rd of the coconut exposed outside of the soil. If planting in a container, make sure the pot is at least 12 inches (30 cm) deep. This will allow for the best root growth development to support a tall tree.

  • 2/3rds of the seed should be in the soil with 1/3rd of the seed exposed above the soil.
  • Never cover this top third with soil or mulch.

One thing to note is that you should not cover the top of the seed with mulch if you are mulching. It’s important to leave the top of the seed exposed for air circulation needs.

What Type of Soil Does a Coconut Tree Need?

Coconut plant growth will best occur with sandy soils as the planting medium. This well-draining soil will provide the best nutrients and prevent coconut root balls from getting waterlogged. To increase the nutrient intake for your coconut, mix a little vermiculite into your sandy soil. 

  • Sandy soils work best for coconut palms.
  • Buy a palm soil mix with vermiculite to give your coconut plant the nutrients it needs.

If you can’t find the right soil, a soil that’s marked as working for palms will work for your coconut tree. Use this palm potting mix to provide your coconut plant with the soil it craves. Be sure not to accidentally purchase coconut coir, a planting medium made out of coconut shreds. It won’t work great for coconut trees but can make for a great mulch for other plants.

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How Do You Plant a Coconut Tree?

Planting coconut trees is pretty simple as long as you live in a fairly tropical climate. Most varieties of coconut palm are easy to manage. A dwarf coconut palm can be grown indoors but if you want fresh coconuts, you’ll have to plant outside eventually. Here are the key steps to getting a coconut seed prepped and planted outside:

  • Germinate the seed by soaking it in water for 2–3 days.
  • Once the seed is germinated, carefully transplant it to an outdoor location.
  • Make sure this location has sandy soils, warm temperature, plenty of humidity, and lots of sun.
  • Mulch and fertilize your coconut to minimize transplant shock.
  • Coconut should be planted so that 2/3rds of the seed is under a layer of soil with the pointy part facing down.

You can grow a coconut from a seed to a tall coconut palm by following these steps. Just make sure to plant your coconut 40 feet (12 meters) from your home. Otherwise, invasive roots can do damage to foundations, plumbing, and other underground structures.

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