Tropical shorelines are the natural habitat of the coconut tree (Cocos nucifera), and successfully planting this tree involves creating similar growing conditions. In gardens, a coconut tree grows best in a sunny spot and freely draining soil. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12, a coconut tree grows 50 to 100 feet tall and its canopy grows 20 to 40 feet wide, so select an area of the garden with plenty of growing room.
A coconut tree tolerates most soil types, providing the drainage is very good. The soil can be acidic or alkaline, with a pH between 5.0 and 8.0, and a coconut tree also tolerates coastal, saline soil. In heavy clay and other poorly drained soil, the tree does not survive. In areas that can become waterlogged, grow a coconut tree in a raised bed 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. There's no need to amend the soil when planting a coconut tree.
Warm, rainy weather is best for planting a coconut tree, though this tree can be planted at any time of year.
- Dig a planting hole for a coconut tree about as deep as the tree's root ball and twice as wide.
- Remove the container or wrapping from the tree, and place it in the hole. The top of the root system of a container-grown coconut tree should sit 1 inch below the soil surface. A bare root tree should sit at its original growing depth. Add or remove soil at the base of the hole to achieve the correct level.
- Scoop dug soil into the hole to fill in the gaps, while holding the tree upright.
- Firm the soil with your hands when the hole is full.
- Water the tree until the soil is moist to the depth of the planting hole.
A coconut tree needs regular watering, especially in its first year. During dry weather, apply 1 inch of water per week to a newly planted tree for the first growing season. An established tree tolerates drought, but grows best and produces the most fruit when it receives 1 inch of water per week, through watering or rainfall.