Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Coconut Palm
Cocos nucifera

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cocos (KOH-kohs) (Info)
Species: nucifera (noo-SIFF-er-uh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

10 members have or want this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Unknown - Tell us

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Gold (Yellow-Orange)
Pale Yellow
Bright Yellow
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)
Pale Green

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
Direct sow as soon as the ground can be worked
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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15 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive DaveTorquay On Feb 20, 2014, DaveTorquay from Torquay
United Kingdom (Zone 10b) wrote:

I grew a Cocos nucifera for a number of years in my garden in Torquay SW England. It germinated from a nut I bought back from a holiday to the Bahamas, I simply tossed it onto my side border, which receives sun from approximately 10:43am to 16:21pm during the summer months, where it readily sprouted. During its first winter I gave minimal protection with some low grade horticultural fleece, (probably overkill as Torquay very rarely drops below 10C/50F during an average winter), and it sailed through.The following summer it pushed out 8 new fronds, summers here have average highs of 32C/90F, with the hottest days reaching around 38C/100F and average minimums of 24C/75F, with some nights staying particularly uncomfortable with lows closer to the 30C/86F mark. The Cocos chugged along for several years, only needing the odd feed and plenty of water as summers in Torquay are particularly dry and sunny, infact we are the sunniest place in the whole of the United Kingdom, and no doubt western Europe, with circa 3000 hours per annum. The only reason I no longer have the Cocos is because during winter 2010 temperatures very briefly dropped to 3C/37F, I imagine a record low for Torquay, and rose only to 15C/59F the following day. This extreme cold for Torquay caused minor spotting to one frond, but I had to rip it out the following summer as I was worried that it would soon start to develop coconuts and I didn't want a lawsuit from one landing on my neighbours head (or greenhouse). I would post some photos but unfortunately my photo album was accidently thrown out during a spring clean (I put it in the pile of old Gardeners World magazines) and all my digital copies were lost when my old laptop spontaneously combusted. I would grow one again, but I would rather use the space I have for a truly interesting and rare tropical species.

Positive Palm1978 On Jul 24, 2012, Palm1978 from Bonita Springs, FL wrote:

Very common in Southwest Florida - and thankfully so! Unfortunately, it suffers burn damage or death in cold spells, dies from LY and now is being invaded by the Gumbo Limbo Spiraling White Fly on both coasts of Florida. Fertilize it regularly and drench the bud with copper fungicide before the cold hits and - God willing - you should be able to maintain a beautiful coconut.

Common at retail stores - usually the Maypan variety. Supposedly the Fiji Dwarf is LY resistant but I have yet to see one example of this variety in our area. There are a few stunning Jamaica Talls (more towards the Naples area). Go to the Fairchild Gardens in Miami if you get the chance. They have a superb collection.

Positive puremagick3 On Aug 20, 2010, puremagick3 from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

I live in Brisbane, Australia (Late 27*S) and I have a tall Coconut and a Malay Coconut (both Seedlings) They are both doing extremely well. The climate here is Tropical/Sub Tropical (Very Similar to Miami). We get Wet season (Summer) highs of 30c (86F) and Wet season Lows of 22c (72F) and in the Dry season (Winter) we get highs of 21 - 22c (70 - 72F) and lows of 11c (52F) and high humidity for most of the year (70%) except in the dry season when the humidity can go down to 18% if the winds coming from the West (From the desert interior) but I have got no cold burn or wind burn on them and they havent stop growing all winter.

They seem to be doing extremely well. I had to repot them a month ago due to growth speed. All I have done is given them good potting mix and Seaweed feed.

These by far are my favourite palm.

Positive FlKeysRedneck On Jun 2, 2010, FlKeysRedneck from Key Largo, FL wrote:

Coconut palms are my favorite palm tree of all.

I am eager to learn how many coconut palms survived Florida's record cold winter of 2010 especially in the further northern locales at the extreme limit of their growth zone of coastal Central Fl or those that had repeated sub freezing nights where there coconut palms sustained heavy to severe damage.

It was heartbreaking to see the amount of frond burn/ damage to the coconut palms up in the Miami area after the January 2010 record cold event. Even here in the Florida Keys there was some slight to moderate damage to many of the coconut palms despite the fact we had no freezing temperatures or frost.
I did extensive research over the past months on coconut palms. Even though Southern CA and south Fl have the same Agricultural zone there are two important factors.
Florida's record cold and wet winter was caused by the North Atlantic Oscillation and El Nino a rare event for the combined weather factors occurring at the same time. Healthy and more mature Coconut palms can survive several degrees below freezing. The fronds will burn but a healthy tree will fully recover over the following summer. I have seen frond damage begin to occur in temps in the high 30's exposed to cold winds.
I have seen and read some accounts of a coconut palm surviving 23 degrees in Central Fl after a cold event some years ago. The entire tree looked dead in the photo but they the end of summer the same tree regrew a significant part of it's canopy back.
I wondered why so many of our coconut palms got damaged here in the Keys despite lack of frost or freezing temps.
We had an unprecedented and record cold period here in January. 12 consecutive nights in the 40's, two of those in the middle 30's. I read that the roots of coconut palms cannot tolerate cold soil temps below 60 degrees. We had many days not even reaching 60 degrees here and days with considerable cloud cover. Many of the lower fronds browned and some trees browned up to 50-60%. In the ensuing weeks after the January cold event most of the coconut palms dropped the lower fronds that died from the cold making quite a mess in many yards.

In the Miami area I noted that all the coconut palms had at least moderate to severe frond damage after the January event with only a few green spears in the middle on many. Many parts of Miami had near to just below freezing temps on Jan 10 and 11th. We had unusually cold temperatures into early March.

The extended chill and the cold soils started killing the root systems being that coconut palms roots are mostly just below the soil surface. The trees began to shut down.This is why southern CA. cannot successfully grow coconut palms. Their winters tend to have extended periods of cool and wet weather that leads to cool soils.
All the healthy coconut palms down here have fully recovered. There are a few that continuously put out new growth but the lower fronds keep turning brown. I suspect this due to some root damage or a diseased tree. Once the root system recovers it will support a full canopy. I have noted as of late May some of the more damaged looking palms are now continuously putting out bloom spathes and starting to set fruit. The tree will survive. I have noted several coconut palms in Key Largo that have died or are dying. Most likely these palms were in ill health prior to the cold event and would have died anyway. A number of coconut palms die off around here every year due to lightning strikes, lethal yellowing, malnutrition or disease. Hard to tell if the few I have seen die were the result of January's cold event or just other causes. People replenish them as fast as they die and they quickly regrow.

My visit to Homestead, Fl some weeks ago the palms seem to be making a slow but steady recovery.

Coconut palms love the hot, humid and wet summers of Florida. We have a very active rainy season already underway and the usually hot/humid temps. I suspect by the end of summer there will be no evidence of the record cold event of winter 2010 and the beautiful coconut palms of Miami will have regained all their canopies and beauty that make Miami famous.

I was told by many locals that Christmas 1989 it was much colder in Miami area. Most locales in downtown Miami dropped to 30 degrees and colder. The agricutural and suburban areas west and southwest of the city were much lower. That cold snap was only a few days in duration. Folk tell me the coconut palms foliage was decimated especially over in Naples Fl where they had upper 20's. By the summer of 1990 all the trees had recovered.

Coconut palms are what puts the tropical in south Florida and the Keys. I love the ease at which they sprout and how rapidly they grow.

My neighborhood lost 80% of all it's coconut palms back in the late 90's due to lethal yellowing disease. Replanting by homeowners and the trees are reaching a good size restoring that lush tropical, graceful appearance the coconut palm lends.

I have a coconut palm in my yard. The coconut I found had just sprouted in vacant lot in early 2001. I planted the coconut sprout in my yard in Late September 2001 as my personal memoriam to the 9/11/01 tragedy. Today it's trunk alone stands at 12 feet,loaded with coconuts. It's top tips of fronds now reach 25 feet and becoming noticeable among the tree skyline on my street.

I would suggest to any of those whose coconut palms did not survive the cold winter of 2010 to replant. Coconut palms are inexpensive, easy to obtain at garden centers, grow very rapidly especially if fertilized and watered in extended dry periods. On average the cold event we had of such prolonged duration is a once in 30-70 year event.

Positive JamesPark On Feb 19, 2009, JamesPark from Auckland
New Zealand (Zone 9a) wrote:

The most hardy plant I have ever known.

I wish! It is impossible to grow outside here, and excruciatingly difficult to grow indoors without a greenhouse. However, it is one of the most beautiful plants on the planet and almost every part of the plant is useful. They can be germinated from a supermarket coconut, but this rarely happens due to many being stored at a temperature too cool for the embryo to survive, the nut being cracked slightly so it is easier to open or just that the nut has no germination pore.

Positive grouper On Aug 21, 2008, grouper from Odessa, FL wrote:

You can find fruiting coconuts all over the Tampa area and especially along the beach in St. Pete/Clearwater. There are numerous 20' trees in neighborhoods 15 miles n. of dwntwn Tampa that have mucho fruto. Most of these planted after the winter of '89 and have gone almost un-scathed since. They are so cheap and plentiful in the nurseries why not try one? The area is beginning to show why it's the new z10.

Neutral Jungleman On Jul 23, 2008, Jungleman from Pasadena, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I planted one outdoors when I was living in the Hollywood Hills, CA, Sunset Zone 23 (Newport is in Sunset 24, a slightly milder, more humid climate). It did not survive. I believe the problem was twofold in that it was overly irrigated in the winter (as we had no temps below 40F that year), though it was planted on a south facing slope. The soil type was rather sandy clay, so that was most likely a contributing factor in it's demise.

I believe it could have survived had I known what I know now about the Cocos requirements.

Positive Tetrazygia On Jun 7, 2008, Tetrazygia from Miami, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

Coconuts can be hardier than the 10b listed, wherever hard freezes don't affect them. However, they tend to fruit only in warmer areas and so typically only set fruit in coastal South Florida and Hawaii.

Neutral BayAreaTropics On Oct 21, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

Well,I planted on in my Northern California garden in July of 08. As of Jan 1st 2009,its alive and looking as it did in summer..seems to be still growing as the spear that it went into winter with is still opening.Slowly,but opening.
No heating cables or plastic covers are being used.
EDIT: No chance-it died by March. And I doubt the best protected spot does nothing more than get it through A winter..nothing more.
Just as it looking lush in the fall gave me hopes...seeing it die in a mild winter crushes any hope.

Positive PanamaJack On Mar 27, 2006, PanamaJack from Santa Monica, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

I brought a coconut from my home country of Panama. I live in coastal Southern California, in Newport Beach. The coconut has been doing great! is has grown at an amazing rate. Since I brought it to SoCal during the winter, I have kept it mostly indoors, where I keep the temps around 72 degrees. I take it out on the balcony only on sunny days above 60 degrees. One week in February we had all days around 80 degrees and it loved the heat. Now I will be leaving it out during the day since temps are back into the 70s. Can't wait for the SoCal heat to kick in and watch my tropical baby grow!...I have posted a picture so you can see it. There's also a specimen on Pacific Coast Highway in the city of Newport Beach, about 45 miles south of Los Angeles. The palm is not too big, it has been there for quite some time now, and it is very close to the ocean. It doesn't have water problems since it is irrigated and gets plenty of sunshine. It is one of the VERY few coconut palms in SoCalifornia. Here's a picture of it.

Positive AnaM149 On Sep 30, 2005, AnaM149 from Casselberry, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is one of my most favorite tropicals. I really hope it will do well over our winters. I am hoping it will get tall enough in a year or two that it will be above the frosts. I keep mine in a spot of the backyard that ALWAYS gets flooded during storms. And the only time it actually dries (when you dig a foot or two and the soil is dry) is if it has not rained for a few weeks (about 5 or 6). Water will not be a problem. Cant wait for my first coconut!

Positive sweetthing On Jun 26, 2005, sweetthing from Cocoa Beach, FL wrote:

we first purchased 5 of our now 12 coconut palms at a local superstore. They were approx 18 in high. Now five years later, they are over 16 feet. We got our first coconuts last year on two of the five. They have done extremly well with little care but MUCH water. They surived the two hurricanes last year with no damage at all and we had winds over 100 miles per hr. We love them so much we planted 7 more and all are doing GREAT! They are beautiful and make our backyard into our little tropical paradise!

Positive OIIIIIO On Aug 30, 2004, OIIIIIO from Owings Mills, MD wrote:

Bought a nut from a grocery store that still had liquid inside.
Put it in a 5 gallon pot full of potting soil and sand mix.
3 months later it had sprouted!

I'm in the 5th month and it has finally gotten it's first frond at about 6 inches.

Neutral tcfromky On Aug 27, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Coconut Palms are, no doubt, the most universally recognized and economically important palm. Copra (the dried "meat" of the seed), from which oil is extracted, is a significant cash crop throughout the tropics. Coir, the fiber from the fruit, is used in manufacturing. The fruits, or coconuts, yield several food products at different stages of development, and the leaves are used for thatch or are woven into baskets, mats and clothing. Even the trunks are used for construction. Of the tribe Cocoeae, and subfamily Arecoideae they are also known by the botanic name Cocos nucifera.

Positive Kylecawaza On Aug 23, 2004, Kylecawaza from Corte Madera, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

IF you want this palm in Southern California it is possible. They do not die from the temperatures, but from a combining effect of the cooler temperatures, the water, and the soil. If you want it to survive, make sure you dig a large whole and fill it in with mostly sand, also plant it on a mound and in full sun, and NEVER water it in thje winter, or at times the average high temperature is below 75 degrees. There are a few surviving trees.

Positive tovis On Jul 9, 2004, tovis from Dorr, MI wrote:

Well looks like I am the furthest north growing in the database. I live in Michigan, plant was recieved via mail from Hawaii. Planted and have been caring for for about a month now and its growing.

Tree is wonderful, excellent conversation piece, and adds the element of paradise to any area it sits in, just like my banana plants.

To care for in Northern Areas bring inside on chilly nights, mist a lot on dry days, and just give it lots of patience and love.

Positive punaheledp On Jul 8, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

this is hawaii...there are coconuts. like them best in somebody elses yard, or along the beaches, parks, pretty in lower valley areas... had one large and many of it's offspring but had it removed as I was not going to climb all 25'-30' of it for trimming and bringing in trimmers got old (falling frond is one thing, but falling coconuts where you may be is another). Called "niu" in Hawaii, it is from S. Pacific and brought here by early polynesians who used virtually all parts. there is something graceful about the tree, but they can get kind of spindley looking when REALLY tall. (used too leave extra nuts on curb, and almost always someone would pass by that wanted them) P.S. No problem with crabs, but rats are a problem. people band them with wide metal, but I have been told that's useless.

Neutral Thaumaturgist On Aug 13, 2003, Thaumaturgist from Rockledge, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

The nocturnal Coconut Crab or Robber Crab (Birgus latro) is a delicacy in the Cook and other Pacific Islands.

In the daytime, they simply rest in their holes. At nightfall, they come out and forage for small animals, roots and preferably Coconuts.

First they cut through the husk to reach the hard shell of a fallen Coconut. One can only imagine the strength and sharpness of their claws that cut through the Coconut's hard shell day in and day out. All the meat is removed flawlessly and consumed with hardly any left over.

Miami's 87-acre Fairchild Tropical Garden, named after the late Dr. David Fairchild, boasts one of the largest collection of Coconut Palms (Cocos nucifera) in the world.

So, what do you do with all these fallen Coconuts that survive the wrath of the Coconut Crabs? You collect them and then dump them in nearby numerous spots that are near the water, moist, humid and semi-shaded, the conditions that are conducive to sprouting.

Positive Greenknee On Mar 3, 2003, Greenknee from Chantilly, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Self seeds - coconuts float around the world in tropical zone, wash up on beaches and germinate. Trees never straight, but lean and curve. When blown over by hurricane force winds, they will right themselves.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Hayward, California
Newport Beach, California
San Francisco, California
Venice, California
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida (2 reports)
Bonita Springs, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Cocoa Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Holmes Beach, Florida
Homestead, Florida (3 reports)
Islamorada, Florida
Key Largo, Florida (2 reports)
Key West, Florida (2 reports)
Lake Worth, Florida (2 reports)
Lakeland, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Miami, Florida
Naples, Florida
Odessa, Florida
Orlando, Florida (2 reports)
Palm Bay, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Ruskin, Florida
Sanford, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sugarloaf Shores, Florida
Summerland Key, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Venice, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida (2 reports)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Ainaloa, Hawaii
Hilo, Hawaii (2 reports)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Honomu, Hawaii
Kailua, Hawaii
Kurtistown, Hawaii
Dorr, Michigan
St John, Mississippi
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Brownsville, Texas
Houston, Texas
Christiansted, Virgin Islands
Deer Park, Washington

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