Coconut Palms are one of the most recognisable plants of the tropics. The nut (which is really the endocarp of a drupe, not a true nut) is used around the world in cooking, cosmetics, textiles, cleaning products and even in potting mix! If you’ve ever wanted to grow your own coconuts, it is possible in Brisbane, with reports of fruit in Indooroopilly, Redcliffe and Oxley. Fruit can take up to a decade to first occur, so best to get your plant growing now!
Although an easy palm to grow for the most part, Coconut Palms are somewhat cold sensitive. They will not tolerate frost or prolonged conditions in single digit temperatures. Most areas of Brisbane will be fine as long as it remains frost-free. Coconut Palms are also not fond of being wet and soggy during cold weather. Reduce watering over winter and move potted plants to warmer positions. If you are in a cold climate such as in Toowoomba, you can bring the plant indoors temporarily.
Coconut Palms are tough and durable plants for outdoors. They will happily grow in full or part shade, and are well adapted to put up with high winds, salt spray and coastal exposure. As a landscaping plant, they are best used as a tall feature plant. They don’t have much use as a screening plant once mature. Regular Coconut Palms can grow quite tall, up to 10m or more in this climate. If this is too large for you, a Malay Dwarf Coconut might be a better choice. This variety only gets to around 5m and is known to produce fruit much earlier, around 3-5 years. Malay Dwarf is (arguably) more attractive too, with orange leaves and crown and either gold, green, bronze or olive fruit.
Coconut Palms are generally pest free, but may attract mealybug, scale and aphids, especially in hot humid weather. This is generally easy to treat. Damping off or collar rot are potential issues during cold wet weather.
Easy to grow. Young plants will establish best in part shade, however full sun is best for mature plants. Does best in rich, well-drained soil but is adaptable. Keep much drier over winter. Use quality fertilizer such as Troforte or Organic Link regularly to produce strong growth and plenty of fruit.