If you live in a tropical location, such as Florida, you’ll want to consider growing a coconut tree, also known as coconut palm, in your backyard. When people see or think of this tree, they usually associate it with sunny beaches and warm seas.
This plant, however, is more than just an icon of the tropics. This wonderful tree has been a vital source of shelter, clothing, fuel and food for thousands of years.
What is Special About the Coconut Tree?
Some people call the coconut tree as the tree of life. The reason is that every part of this tree is beneficial to both human beings and animals.
Not convinced? Let’s take a look at the uses of each part of the coconut palm:
The fibrous root system of the coconut tree goes beyond supporting the tree. The Chinese use the root as a home remedy for common ailments. Also, some rural folks use this part of the tree as a natural dye.
The wood industry sees the coconut palm as a good alternative wood source, especially when the supply of hardwood becomes scarce.
Coconut lumber is more affordable than traditional hardwood. You could use the trunk for fires in a traditional kitchen. Alternatively, you could use the lumber as material for a home renovation project.
The central vein of the coconut tree holding the leaves together isn’t useless. You could tie a bunch of slim sticks together to make a broomstick. This handy household cleaning tool can keep the lawns and houses lawn.
The leaves of the coconut palm are also useful. Fishermen, for instance, weave the leaves to help propel their boats at sea and protect them from direct exposure to the sun.
If you’re creative enough, you could use the fronds of the coconut to make the following:
- Fish Traps
- Fruit Trays
The flesh of the coconut is edible dried or fresh. It’s rich in fiber and other nutrients.
If you’re allergic to milk or dairy products, you could use the fruit to make coconut milk. You also have the option to use coconut milk to condition your hair.
Last but certainly not the least, you can turn the fruit into coconut flour, which some use as a gluten-free substitute.
What is the Difference Between Palm and Coconut Trees?
Differentiating palm tree vs. coconut tree can be tough for many. There are several species of palm trees but only one type of species can produce coconuts.
When distinguishing coconut and palm trees, remember that coconut trees are a type of palm trees — but not all palm trees bear coconuts.
The main difference between the two plants is the leaves. Coconut trees have wide leaves. On the other hand, palm trees feature fan-shaped leaves.
Identifying a Coconut Tree
If you come across palm and coconut trees and want to easily differentiate the two plants, take note of the following distinctive characteristics of the coconut:
- The top capped by the base and the growth of fronds is thick.
- Coconut palms have a textured and slender trunk.
- A coconut tree has a fibrous-covered fruit.
- The columnar trunk of a coconut palm is usually 15 to 17 feet long.
How to Grow a Coconut Tree
Botanically speaking, there are two types of coconut trees. The first one is the tall variety, which people plant for commercial purposes. The draft variety, which is approximately a third the size of the tall coconut palm, is difficult to grow and has a shorter lifespan. This plant, however, produces coconuts earlier than the tall variety.
When growing a coconut tree, start with a fresh coconut that still has the husk in it. The fruit should sound like it still has water when you shake it. Soak it in water for a few days.
Then, place the coconut in a container filled with well-draining potting soil. The container should be approximately 12 inches deep to let the roots grow properly. Plant the coconut point side down and leave a third of the fruit above the soil.
Next, transfer the container to a warm and well-lit spot. Coconuts thrive in areas that are 70 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. Water the coconut frequently, but see to it that the container drains well.
Once the coconut palm has begun growing, you’ll need to do the following to keep it healthy:
- Keep the tree away from drafts and provide supplemental light if needed. Coconut palms are highly cold-sensitive.
- This plant requires regular and complete fertilizer. Purchase a fertilizer that offers both basic and trace nutrients, such as magnesium, manganese and boron.
- Use a soaker hose to irrigate the soil around the coconut tree.
How to Get Coconuts from a Tree
First things first — never shake a coconut tree. Falling coconuts can injure people.
Instead, use a pole pruner with a length that lets you reach the coconut easily. Position the pole’s serrated blade just above the top of the fruit.
Then, cut through the thin stem with a sawing motion. Do this at a safe distance. Avoid nicking any fronds with the blade. Once the coconut falls, get the freed fruit quickly.
Growing a coconut tree on your property will be beneficial for you, as practically every part of this plant is useful. The coconut palm is what you’d call a VIP — a Very Important Plant.