I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts

Florida?  In summer?  Are you nuts?

If you’ve read any previous posts, you already know the answer to that question.  But in this case, there is a reason to the madness.  In a nutshell — a coconut shell, that is — South Florida will someday be our new home.  About one month before Hurricane Andrew arrived in 1992, Joe and I purchased a house.  Each year since, we have traveled to Fort Lauderdale several times a year to do the most relaxing of vacation activities: yard work.  And as we go about our palm tree trimming and bundling and bagging of debris, we do a lot of planning and dreaming.

And that’s what makes this visit’s yard clean-up so amazing.  As we began to tidy up the yard, many of the fallen coconuts were plantable — because with a shake, we could hear liquid inside.  And one of the coconuts had even begun to sprout.

Joe is cuckoo for coconuts, and if he could, he would plant them all over South Florida — a Johnny Appleseed for the subtropics.  Or as we joke: Joey Coconuts.

To plant a coconut, which is a seed — a really, really BIG seed — simply dig a shallow hole and place the coconut so that half of it can be buried.  Add heat and moisture and more heat.  They can even be covered with saw dust to really turn up the heat.  In time, a green shoot will break through the hard shell, eventually looking like this.

And in a few years, mighty coconut palm trees from big coconuts grow.

The next surprise came from friends, who presented me with a decorative but inedible pineapple.  The color, a pinkish orange, is stunning — and my friends assured me this plant is easy to grow.  It’s not even fussy about light or shade.

Simply cut off about 1/4″ from the bottom.

Place in dirt and cover up to the side shoots.  My friends say this will take root, and eventually a spike will appear, topped by a decorative pineapple, which means more plants.

And watching us the entire time was a mother duck and her baby — dreaming and making plans.

32 thoughts on “I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts

  1. Your enthusiasm is great fun and while I live in the North, no tropical goodies will grow at all. One question, why if you can grow ornamental pineapples, can’t you grow the eating kind? Lemons, Limes, oranges,avocados, wow, how wonderful to have these kinds of goodies growing in the back yard. Hope you are most happy in your new home!

    • Hello. Good news! All of those fruits can be grown here — all in good time. I’m not living here — yet — but when I do, I plan to plant all that and more. In the meantime, my life will return to the north when this vacation comes to an end. Thanks for commenting and for your kind words. It helps to keep the enthusiasm alive! 🙂

  2. I love your photo of the coconut sprouting…..something I’ve never seen before! What a fun plant to grow. Enjoy the tropics and I’m sure a well-deserved vacation!

    • Hi Elaine. They really are a fun seed! Easy to handle. Easy to sow. The germination time can be a bit long, even as long as a year. Every few months, we travel to South Florida, collect the fallen coconuts around the yard and plant them. Some will germinate in three months, others in six months, or, as in the case of the one photographed, without even being planted. They seem to germinate more in the summer, probably because of the tropical heat. Enjoy the day!

    • Hello. Right now, Florida is still a vacation destination — but in time, it will be our new home. It’s like a greenhouse outside, so I am excited about all of the gardening prospects!

  3. I had never thought about how to grow a coconut tree. I really liked seeing the little sprout come out! And that pink pineapple is adorable! What a fun place that will be in which to garden!

    • There is a classic Florida gardening guide, “Florida, My Eden.” We often joked about it, and would always say, “Ahhhh. Florida, my Eden.” But it does seem that all you have to do is put something in the ground and it grows. My Eden, indeed! 🙂

  4. Oh, you’re going to have so much fun with all the tropical plants when you and Joe move down there full time! That coconut palm is stunning … no wonder Joe is cuckoo for coconuts. I have a queen palm that I just love, but I have to overwinter it in our home. It’s getting huge so that’s going to be a problem in two or three years. Maybe my greenhouse will magically appear before then. Hope you two are having a great time in sunny south Florida! 🙂

    • Hi Beth. We’re having a lot of fun down here. By the way, in NY, we have a windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) planted in the ground. It’s a northern growing palm, and we manage to overwinter it outside by wrapping it. If you love palms, you may have year-round success with this — without ever bringing it inside!

    • All very cool stuff. You should see how much of the coconut sprout is now visible. Maybe I’ll post an updated photo of the little one. 🙂

  5. Oh how I envy you being able to move to Florida! All the interesting things you will be able to grow! Mind you, you can grow bananas in London, I have seen it myself, but I don’t think you can grow coconuts 🙂

      • Yes, sure you can eat them, at least some of the varieties! They often turn out quite small and have to be ripened indoors, but they are definitely edible. The dwarf varieties are best for edible fruit, as it is easier to harvest the fruit and also more likely to get fruit at all in cooler summers. There are many different types suitable for UK climate, both with edible and ornamental fruit, most of them have to be protected during the winter with for example bubble wrap, straw etc. Sadly I haven’t got room for a banana ‘palm’ (bananas are not really palms, they are the world’s biggest herbaceous plants) in my postage stamp size garden – actually, I think you might need two, for pollination. Definitively not got room for that! Would have loved to though 🙂

      • Hello Helene. That’s great! I’ve tried to grow northern growing bananas here in New York. They do not make fruit, but I was hoping for a tropical look in the yard — sadly, no luck. I also failed at overwintering them — but it would be amazing to have edible bananas ready for the picking! Thanks for the info!

  6. This was a fun post! I think that South Florida is just waiting for you and Joe to come so you can take over the beautification of a whole new landscape. You’ll undoubtedly add your own brand of creativity to the already plentiful tropicals! How fun to have such a dream destination in your future! 🙂 I once brought a coconut from Florida home in my suitcase…I don’t think I was supposed to do that, but I just had to! Debra

  7. of course logically a coconut is a seed but I had never ever thought of that. I was dumbstruck looking at that shoot coming out of it. I think, like Joe, I would be a bit obsessed with planting them too.

    • What’s fascinating is that by the time the sprout appears, the shell hasn’t softened one bit. That piece of green is able to do what a machete can do. Amazing!

    • I’ll pass on the rain — but there are large areas of this country in desperate need of rain, especially throughout the middle. The drought is not only having a devastating effect on gardens and farms, but on livestock, as well. So, we would be eternally grateful for any barrels you could send. We might even arrange a holiday in your honor: Jane Day!

  8. Pingback: Bloomin’ Update 29: How To Read A Palm « Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

    • Hello Sharon. I think because I’m a northern gardener, I cannot get enough of palms. I even remember a trip to Florida when I was a kid. and I was fascinated by these “giant pineapples.” 🙂

  9. I do not want to put rain on your parade, but growing a coconut from a Jamaican Tall coconut will produce a lovely tree indeed, but it most likely will die from lethal yellowing disease soon after reaching a nice height. Google it. I bought three Malayan Dwarf coconut varieties, or so I thought, and two got the disease and died after about 8 years. Many other palms are susceptible as well to this disease.

    • Hi Robert. I’ve heard about lethal yellowing — and I understand that the disease wiped them out in South Florida. In our South Florida yard, we have several green Malayan palms and several Maypan, which is a mix of Malayan and Panama tall. So far, so good — no sign of any yellowing. But we did lose a Royal Palm to frizzle top a few years ago. That’s when we learned that Royals needs a lot of Magnesium and Manganese. Live, garden and learn. Thanks for your comment!

  10. Pingback: Bloomin’ Update 36: Wish You Were Here « Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

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