Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
NOT A TA

Coconut experiments in S. Florida indoor & outdoor

Recommended Posts

NOT A TA

This thread will document various experiments with Coconuts both indoor and outdoor here in South FL.  Most of the Coco discussions I've seen on the forum involve zone pushing which I'm not doing since I'm in 10B. 

However, I will be doing some things that may also be relevant to the zone pushers. I'm particularly impressed with Rickybobby's persistence to try and grow a Coconut all the way up in Canada and plan on experimenting with the quick germination "warm bucket of water" technique he's been using.  I want to see what happens to the plants germinated using the technique when kept indoor here as well as outside both in pots and planted.  My main goal is learning the quickest way to turn a mature nut that drops from my trees to a saleable plant. I've had several requests for seedlings from people who've bought nuts from my trees because they really like the taste of the particular fruit and want a tree that's the same.

In the past I've been growing miscellaneous varieties of Coconuts without keeping track of any of the details at all. Since I started growing them to use in my vigilante landscaping projects where I'm essentially giving them away I didn't really care what variety they are or any of the germination details. It's not unusual at all for neighbors to just throw a pile of palms, germinating Coconuts,  or other plants in my yard knowing I'll put them to use.  The Coconuts trees I have now (about 25) all started from seeds kicked to the side when neighbors mow their lawns. If they sit in a garden edge or get thrown in a pile so they're out of the way they'll germinate with no human assistance. So eventually they get pulled (or dug) like weeds and then get thrown in my yard bare root so I have no idea what tree they came from.

Several other neighbors are on those "landscaping" crews that terrorize HOAs with their pruning techniques and although they speak very little English and can't tell me the plants names they know I want Palms and other plants for my projects so if they are thinning out a bed of Cat Palms, weeding,  or pruning something I can use for cuttings they'll just dump stuff in my yard.  Worst that can happen to any of the donations is that something might get put out for bulk pick up the following week so I appreciate their efforts to bring me stuff.

So here's my first experiment. I wondered if cutting a notch on the top and a slot in the bottom of a Coconut husk would speed germination. So i took a freshly fallen nut from the tree in pic below and set it as it would fall & lay naturally and cut a slice of the husk off the top lump and a slot in the bottom. Took pics, set it in the garden, and forgot to write the date down.  Then the pics were lost when the phone died shortly thereafter.  Drat, so much for documentation! Anyway it seems (and I could be wrong) that it's sprouting a month or so quicker than normal considering the spring planting. Today was the first sign of life! Will see if the root started in the bottom slot I cut when I dig it up. Can't let it stay where it is too long because there's an irrigation pipe under it.

I know the pic of the tree isn't good, gray and rainy at the moment but maybe one of the knowledgeable Coconut people can identify it, if not I'll get a better pic when it's nice out. .

20190513_155815_zpsn7azafs6.jpg

20190513_1132380_zpsmaz9xusj.jpg

20190513_113255_zps5jybdlhm.jpg

Edited by NOT A TA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rickybobby

I’m flattered that I’ve inspired someone. Iam persistent. I was inspired by the kiwigrower on YouTube originally I just didn’t want to wait months for germination. My only issue is this. If I get coconuts in the summer months here. And there fresh I can germinate in a few days. When the coconuts have been sitting in a grocery store for months during the winter it is harder to do. But if the seed is viable it will pop 

the warm bucket of water is very efficient and if you have good quality ziploc bags you can float baggies of seed in them as well. It’s way cheaper on hydro 

good luck with your experiments 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GottmitAlex

Rob.  It will be tough for cocos to produce in our latitude, let alone your latitude. Here's hoping. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NOT A TA

I don't expect zone pushers to be able to have Cocos that produce fruit so far out of their natural range like say Canada... Yikes!!!!  There are a lot of factors involved in having a plant flourish well enough to reproduce even just slightly out of it's natural range never mind multiple zones.   I've been asking around to see if anyone I know has an aquarium heater so I can mimic Rickybobby's 5 gal bucket Coco incubator. If I don't find someone soon I'll buy one. This evening I checked the temp of collected rainwater in large plastic garbage cans I use and it was 84 F so it won't take a big heater to keep it 90 F at night and probably won't be on at all most days if I keep it in the sun. I checked the local supermarket and the dehusked Cocos are from the Dominican also so I'm going to pick some up when I get a heater.

Why would I bother with the supermarket Cocos and bucket when I can just take nuts that fall off the trees here and throw them on the ground many of you might wonder. I like experimenting, so I'm going to try some things people who don't live where Cocos grow normally do. Like germinating dehusked store bought nuts then potting and keeping inside both in AC and non AC areas. Maybe I'll learn something that can help those who can't currently keep an indoor Coco healthy or grow Coconuts that fruit in their yards. Worst that can happen is stuff dies, in which case we still learn something even if it's what not to do.

I joined Palmtalk after finding the thread about the Corona Coco with the intention of posting in that thread about a few things I believe helped it survive.  Need to find that thread and post my thoughts some time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NOT A TA

Although I referred to the little Coco sprout posted above as my first experiment it's actually not. I started trying things with Coconuts in 2005 when I bought a home here in S. FL.  Although I've been a plant guy for 50 years,  have degrees in Arboriculture & related fields, and lots of experience up North, I had very little experience with Palms other than a few from big box stores I kept as house plants that spent summers on the deck. So it's a whole new world in zone 10 compared with 5 and the ole dog's tryin to learn new tricks.

Since there were several mature Cocos on the property already when I bought it I did some research and reconnaissance observing Coconut trees in the area. Based on my studies I decided to try a couple things the first being mounding and the second being to leave the trees alone through the winter months.  Now it just happened that the city conveniently decided to plant Coconut trees along my street right after I bought the house providing me with a perfect control group (neighbors) to compare my trees with. Although I didn't really like the idea of the city showing up and planting stuff in MY yard without notice, when I wasn't there (even though technically it's within the "right of way"). 

A coconuts naturally occurring leaf and other debris normally falls to the base of the tree where it disintegrates and creates a good environment for new roots in the root initiation zone at the base of the trunk. Coconuts in peoples yards,  where the area at the base of the tree gets cleaned up don't get the benefits of the rotting debris. So I decided to regularly mulch and let that deteriorate creating the same effect with a more pleasing appearance. In addition to creating a medium for root growth I believe the insulating effect helps the root system during the winter months particularly young plants and transplants so I load on thick mulch in fall. Even though I'm in 10 B the Coconuts would probably like warmer winters than we have based on my observations so the insulating qualities of the mulch probably helps during our few cool nights each year.

If left alone naturally the old leaves eventually hang straight down along the trunk before falling off and they reduce transpiration by blocking wind and help insulate.  The tree will have several hundred lbs of nuts and other organic material surrounding the terminal bud which provide a heat sink and insulation which keeps the bud warmer on cool winter nights.

Now,  since my test subject trees are along the street in front of my house I can't really let the leaves go until they fall off on their own (because ugly) so during the cool months I wait till the tree's sucked most of the nutrients back out of the old leaves and they're hanging low then cut them off leaving the boots to help insulate the bud. I don't cut any of the coconuts off Nov.-March so they can retain heat from the day which radiates out at night helping keep the bud warm.  I don't pull off any of the old boots or burlap other than once a year in late May for looks.

After 13-14 years you can see a noticeable difference in my trees that have been mounded with mulch and left alone during winters compared to neighbors trees planted by the same crew the same day and started the same size. We both water about the same amount, fertilize our lawns about the same with typical feed & feed, and neither of us has used any Palm fertilizer. Soil's also the same. The only differences I'm aware of is I cut my lawn higher and I use spot spray weed killer on the lawn for dollar weed control and since a tornado took out a large Mango at my house my trees get maybe an hour more direct sun but that's only been about two years. Trees in both yards are basically out in the open, same distance from street etc.

In these first pics (taken today) you can see the mounding/mulching I do to my trees vs the roots trying to grow at the base of the neighbors. There's currently very little mulch left on mine and the whole "lump" is roots, tomorrow is new mulch day.  Neighbors is bare soil/weeds and will probably remain that way.  Both of us remove weeds mechanically every couple weeks.

20190515_184450_zpsacyttprt.jpg

20190515_184638_zpshtid1tjm.jpg

In pics below (taken today) you can see the difference in leaving nuts vs taking them for food over the winter and removing old boots.  Mine always have a lot more nuts per bunch and I actually removed two loaded frutescence from mine last week. Neighbors doesn't seem to produce many fruit from winter flowers. Perhaps because the flowers don't have warm air rising from the stored heat in nuts to keep them warm on cool nights? Neighbor removes nuts year round at the point before maturity when the water is good.

20190515_1424360_zps7nqahjf8.jpg

20190515_142316_zpsughsugjm.jpg

In pics below also taken today you can see the difference in growth rate. Pole saw for scale extended the same amount at both trees. These trees were pretty much identical when planted back in '05. I'll suggest that the mounding and leaving the trees alone with fruit in place help the tree through winter. There was a very noticeable visual difference during the cold winter events in 2009-10 and 10-11 winters when it got pretty cold.  Neighbors trees took a long time to come back from both events compared with mine. So my recommendation to zone pushers is mound/mulch and leave the trees alone with fruit in place (if you can grow fruit) through the winters. Also leave the boots & burlap for insulation.

20190515_142255_zpsh1up1eth.jpg

20190515_142421_zps8wpxmjrg.jpg

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×