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sandgroper

My Perth coconut palm

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sandgroper

Gday all,

                I’ve read several stories on the forum where people have attempted to grow coconut palms away from their preferred climate range with a variety of results so I thought I would share my experience in growing one in Perth, Western Australia. Further north in our state coconuts grow extremely well and fruit prolifically but here in Perth (32S) it’s a bit too cool for a bit too long over our winter but like everyone else I really wanted one as I’ve spent a lot of time in our states north and love the look of these palms. I read everything I could find in books and online, including here on this forum before I attempted growing one just to see what others had done to encourage their coconut palm to grow in climates where they shouldn’t be growing so I could go into this project with as much knowledge as I could gain. I have probably gone overboard with my efforts but I really did want one so was happy to put the effort in, I must say, I’ve had fun doing it too! Anyway, here is what I did.

 I live on the Swan coastal plain in Perth, the soils are very sandy with no nutrients but they are very free draining which suits coconuts well so I knew I was ok there. I found a nice sheltered place in the backyard facing north to plant the palm which meant that it was relatively protected from the wind and would receive maximum sunlight throughout the year, fortunately Perth is one of the sunniest cities in the world so I knew that would help. I bought a 1 metre tall coconut palm in a small pot from a local plant nursery and then dug a hole about twice as wide as the pot size, I also placed a piece of 20mm reticulation pipe down into the hole with a screw cap on the top so I could feed seaweed solution directly to the roots, then filled the hole in with the sand I had dug out originally. I did this at the beginning of spring to give the palm as much chance to establish as possible.

i watered the palm daily over the 9 warm months and fertilized it weekly with seaweed solution and fish emulsion, which I still do. I also monthly fertilize it with sulphate of potash. At the start of May, mid autumn, I put a cheap walk in greenhouse over the palm, this cost me $100 delivered to my door from ebay. Inside the greenhouse I placed 4 black plastic bins filled with water to act as a heat trap. I also put a cheap ceramic heater ($30) with a timer set to come on overnight which kept it very cosy inside, it was also cheap to run, about $3 a week. I reduced the watering to weekly, depending on how dry the soil was around the palm. I kept this up until mid spring when I uncovered it and continued the same routine as I had over the previous summer. 

I have repeated these same steps over the last 5 years except I’ve reduced the amount of time the palm has been covered as it has become stronger and seems to handle a bit of cool weather a lot better than it did. Forgot to mention that inside the greenhouse over winter I also lined the back with silver roof insulation to reflect as much light onto the palm as possible.

This coming winter will be the real test as it is now so big that it will be difficult to protect, I certainly won’t be able to cover it as it is now above the roof of the house and has begun to develop a trunk but I will do the best I can. 

Im sure all this effort won’t be for everyone but it has provided me with countless hours of enjoyment as it has been a real project, I’m also very happy with the results I’m getting up to this point. I’ll attach a few photos of the palm today.

cheers, Dave.

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sandgroper

A few more photos........

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Rickybobby

Wow this is great. I’ve been going in the same direction with a small greenhouse and the other things needed   Like you said the challenge is fun 

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PalmatierMeg

Beautiful, well grown coconut. Good luck this coming winter.

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Zeeth

Nice! Your set-up sounds very similar to what PT member Tyrone did when he lived in Perth.

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sandgroper
10 hours ago, Rickybobby said:

Wow this is great. I’ve been going in the same direction with a small greenhouse and the other things needed   Like you said the challenge is fun 

Cheers mate, it is fun and so far seems to be working. 

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sandgroper
4 hours ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Beautiful, well grown coconut. Good luck this coming winter.

Thank you,  this coming winter will be the big test.

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sandgroper
4 hours ago, Zeeth said:

Nice! Your set-up sounds very similar to what PT member Tyrone did when he lived in Perth.

I contactedTyrone a few years ago and he was very helpful, I  wonder how his coconut palm is going now? I hope it's going well, the last photo I saw of it was on a thread here on PT and it looked great.

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sandgroper

I forgot to mention that I live 10 minutes drive from the beach so we're down there at least once a week so every few weeks I fill up a 5 litre container with seawater and water the coconut with it.

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GottmitAlex
5 hours ago, sandgroper said:

I forgot to mention that I live 10 minutes drive from the beach so we're down there at least once a week so every few weeks I fill up a 5 litre container with seawater and water the coconut with it.

Well done. Magnificently grown under your circumstances? Do you know the variety?  Since it has been already 5 years in the ground and has started to develop a trunk, I am stumped on the cultivar.  Do you know if it is a tall or dwarf?  Has it flowered yet?

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Mr. Coconut Palm

Dave,

Your coconut palm looks really good.  I hope it continues to make it and gets a nice trunk on it, and even a few nuts one day too.  Like Alex said, do you know what variety it is?

John

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sandgroper
2 hours ago, Mr. Coconut Palm said:

Dave,

Your coconut palm looks really good.  I hope it continues to make it and gets a nice trunk on it, and even a few nuts one day too.  Like Alex said, do you know what variety it is?

John

Gday mate, it's a Malay dwarf. It hasn't flowered yet but I'm really hoping that it will, they grow and fruit really well further north in our state but it's a lot warmer up there so I'll keep trying and see what happens, it's fun trying though!

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sandgroper
On Mon Apr 02 2018 12:47:15 GMT+0800, GottmitAlex said:

Well done. Magnificently grown under your circumstances? Do you know the variety?  Since it has been already 5 years in the ground and has started to develop a trunk, I am stumped on the cultivar.  Do you know if it is a tall or dwarf?  Has it flowered yet?

Thanks mate, appreciate the comments. It hasn't flowered yet but it is looking pretty good so I really hope it does. I'm certainly doing anything I can think of to encourage it.

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Mr. Coconut Palm
On ‎4‎/‎3‎/‎2018‎ ‎3‎:‎41‎:‎50‎, sandgroper said:

Gday mate, it's a Malay dwarf. It hasn't flowered yet but I'm really hoping that it will, they grow and fruit really well further north in our state but it's a lot warmer up there so I'll keep trying and see what happens, it's fun trying though!

Hi Dave,

Good luck.  I hope you at least get a few nuts on it in the near future.  How far north of you (in miles- I don't do the Metric thing), do they usually start fruiting?

John

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sandgroper
On Thu Apr 05 2018 10:20:27 GMT+0800, Mr. Coconut Palm said:

Hi Dave,

Good luck.  I hope you at least get a few nuts on it in the near future.  How far north of you (in miles- I don't do the Metric thing), do they usually start fruiting?

John

They start fruiting roughly 500kms north of me, I think that's around 350 odd miles, another hundred north of that and they fruit prolifically. To the best of my knowledge no one has had one fruiting in Perth so we'llsee what happens! 

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sandgroper
On Thu Apr 05 2018 10:36:45 GMT+0800, kinzyjr said:

@sandgroper Very robust!  I'm jealous! :)

Thanks mate!

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Mr. Coconut Palm
18 hours ago, sandgroper said:

They start fruiting roughly 500kms north of me, I think that's around 350 odd miles, another hundred north of that and they fruit prolifically. To the best of my knowledge no one has had one fruiting in Perth so we'llsee what happens! 

Okay, thanks.  Here, they start fruiting on a more regular basis and with full sized nuts about 120 miles south of me in the Rio Grande Valley, but they have been known to occasionally grow to maturity and even have a few small to medium sized fruits near where I live.

John

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sandgroper

Well, we are now in the depths of winter here and my coconut thus far seems to be ok. We've had some very cold lows this past week, the temp on Saturday morning dipped to 3c (38f) before warming up. This morning was 7c (44f) but it had warmed up to 21c (70f) where I have my coconut growing by 10.00am this morning. We have had a fair amount of rain this winter so far too but also plenty of sunny days which is usual for here. Generally if the skies are clear overnight in Perth the dawn will be very cold before the day warms up. Here's a couple of pics I took just now.

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sandgroper

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GottmitAlex

Magnificent!

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sandgroper

If it still looks like this by September I'll be very happy,  I think I'll have won the battle by then but that's eight weeks away so their's plenty of anxiety till then! I sometimes wonder why we do these things but we do!

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GottmitAlex
10 minutes ago, sandgroper said:

If it still looks like this by September I'll be very happy,  I think I'll have won the battle by then but that's eight weeks away so their's plenty of anxiety till then! I sometimes wonder why we do these things but we do!

What makes the mountain worth the climb? 

Fantastic job you're doing. What a gorgeous specimen.

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sandgroper

Cheers Alex, much appreciated mate.

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Tyrone

Looking good mate. Did it actually get down to 3C in its little hutch. I doubt it. I think my coconut never saw below 2.5C where I had it and that was when the official temp was 0C. 21C during the day pretty much makes up for cold nights with a coconut. A bit of rain coming through tonight though. Have you got anything to keep it on the dry side especially if it drops to low single digits straight after. If the temp bounces back up to the low twenties after 60mm of rain you'd be ok, but a 16C day maybe not.

I loved my now deceased coconut I had in Perth. Now I grow Rhopalostylis and Hedyscepe and pray for rain in winter. Complete opposite growing experience especially in summer when I actually dont want it too hot.

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sandgroper
1 hour ago, Tyrone said:

Looking good mate. Did it actually get down to 3C in its little hutch. I doubt it. I think my coconut never saw below 2.5C where I had it and that was when the official temp was 0C. 21C during the day pretty much makes up for cold nights with a coconut. A bit of rain coming through tonight though. Have you got anything to keep it on the dry side especially if it drops to low single digits straight after. If the temp bounces back up to the low twenties after 60mm of rain you'd be ok, but a 16C day maybe not.

I loved my now deceased coconut I had in Perth. Now I grow Rhopalostylis and Hedyscepe and pray for rain in winter. Complete opposite growing experience especially in summer when I actually dont want it too hot.

G'day Tyrone,  the outside temp dipped to 3c but inside the enclosed area never got below 10c. The top is open to the elements but as the palm fronds are now above roof height I think they'd have been warmer than 3c too. I have a small heater set on a timer which helps, also the plastic tubs restrict the amount of rainwater that gets to the ground keeping it relatively dry to the point where I actually have to water it. It is also planted almost under the eaves of the house facing north so the palm has a northern lean to it meaning the rootball is quite rain protected and although the fronds get rained on they also get whatever sunshine is available. So far so good, this winter is the real test as it has a lot less protection than in the past, another 8 -10 weeks and I'll know how successful I've been,  here's hoping!

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pin38

Looks like you've pulled all the right tricks to create a nice microclimate. Looking good!

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PalmTreeDude

Nice setup! It looks happy. 

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greysrigging

Did that run of cold ( for Perth area ) cloudy wet days in early June have any detrimental effects ? I'm thinking a cool run of wet days below 20c would not be too helpful for the Coconut..... ? I was in Mandurah in early June and that run of cold and wet was detrimental to me.....lol ( a 40 year resident of Darwin )

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sandgroper
34 minutes ago, greysrigging said:

Did that run of cold ( for Perth area ) cloudy wet days in early June have any detrimental effects ? I'm thinking a cool run of wet days below 20c would not be too helpful for the Coconut..... ? I was in Mandurah in early June and that run of cold and wet was detrimental to me.....lol ( a 40 year resident of Darwin )

Nah, didn't worry the coconut at all, we've had some decent sunny pleasant days since then so no problem. Were in for another 4-5 days of rain now but bright and sunny for a week or so after that.

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The Palm Nut

That coconut is looking great for your conditions. You have some cold wet conditions in the next few days but with the protection you have provided and closeness to the house you should have no problems with it continuing to grow and look good for a few years yet. I have a few growing in the garden none of which are protected. We have had some cold and wet days and I expect some spotting and maybe some of the seedlings dying. The one which is about the same size as yours will definitely see the winter without much problem at least for now but as surely as the sun rises there will come a time they become unsightly and you will no longer find it pleasing to the eye. Keep planting them so you will always have at least one looking good. Personally I have this addiction and must have a coconut growing in the garden be it small or large, it must look good. 

Cheers

 

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sandgroper

Climbed up on the ladder so I could have a look at the top of the coconut this afternoon, it's looking a bit tatty around the edges and a bit too yellow for my liking but I suppose considering that part of the Palm has been exposed to all of the elements including some pretty cool winds it's probably looking as well as can be expected. We have another seven odd weeks of winter left before we head into spring so I'm hoping it keeps fighting! This is the first year where it has had limited protection so time will tell.

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sandgroper

It's also decided to start opening a new frond.

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sandgroper

Only 4 more weeks of winter to go and although the coconut looks a bit rough around the edges I don't think it looks any worse than it did a month ago. The new frond continues to open in spite of our winter and doesn't look too bad considering it is virtually exposed to any wind and cold the elements throw at it. I'm feeling pretty good about this one! Here's a few I've just taken.

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sandgroper

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sandgroper

I'd be happier if these things would stop hiding under the lips of my pots!

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Tyrone

Yeah, she ain't going to be looking pretty opening a new frond into a July winter in Perth, but the next few fronds will open into steadily warmer weather and should be ok. The first two weeks of July are statistically the coldest for the year for Perth and the SW of Oz so we've cleared that now and overall things should start to look better but the warm up is painfully slow especially down here. But then I'm growing Beccariophoenix alfredii that just laughs at the cold down here and looks almost, just almost like a real Cocos. 

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Tyrone
5 hours ago, sandgroper said:

I'd be happier if these things would stop hiding under the lips of my pots!

image.jpeg

In Australia, when gardening, you never, never pick up a pot without looking at where you're putting your hand or one of these may get you. Related to the US black widow and the South African cupboard spider it can kill you if bitten, or at least make you very ill. You may not even feel the bite, but if the area goes black then you've probably been bitten by a red back spider and need to go to the hospital.

But they're very easy to squash with a quick hand, or a shoe.

The male is a smaller spider with sometimes a white mark on its back. Nowhere near as venemous as the female. I've been bitten by a male one and it did hurt a bit. Like being bitten by a bull ant.

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Daryl

When you hear the snap, crackle, pop sound you know you are breaking redback webs, not rice bubbles LOL

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sandgroper
On Mon Jul 02 2018 06:37:44 GMT+0800, greysrigging said:
5 minutes ago, Daryl said:
26 minutes ago, Tyrone said:

In Australia, when gardening, you never, never pick up a pot without looking at where you're putting your hand or one of these may get you. Related to the US black widow and the South African cupboard spider it can kill you if bitten, or at least make you very ill. You may not even feel the bite, but if the area goes black then you've probably been bitten by a red back spider and need to go to the hospital.

But they're very easy to squash with a quick hand, or a shoe.

The male is a smaller spider with sometimes a white mark on its back. Nowhere near as venemous as the female. I've been bitten by a male one and it did hurt a bit. Like being bitten by a bull ant.

I've been the unfortunate recipient of two separate redback bites, the first time was my own fault for not looking under the handle of the esky before I grabbed it out of the shed, the second time I blame the spider for, I felt a bite on my back and when I checked my hand to see what I'd squashed that had bitten me I discovered a mangled redback. Normally they don't worry me too much because they just tend to stay in their webs, I'm more concerned about white tails because they crawl into clothing inside the house, I do kill them.

 

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