If you were an inquisitive child, no doubt you tried to grow an apple from a pip, a plum tree from the stone inside or you even ended up sticking a potato into the ground in the hope that a heap of perfectly formed carbohydrates would sprout up within days. But have you ever thought that you may be able to grow a coconut tree from a coconut?
Whilst admittedly in the UK the climate is not conducive to balmy palms and there is no danger of being knocked out from a coconut dropping on your head, some gardening stalwarts have managed to get some hardier versions to bear fruit (indoors that is), it is still fascinating to think that the coconuts we buy in the shops can be transformed into coconut trees in any country.
So just how do you get from coconut to coconut tree?
Well a solid starting point has to be choosing the right coconut for the job, and the fresher the coconut the better. One that is full of milk that you can hear moving around inside is best, along with a coconut where you can easily see that the 3 holes on the end are in tip-top condition.
The next stage is to soak it in warm water for 3 days in order to make it ready for planting. Make sure it is fully submerged by weighing down.
Next, it’s time to plant the ‘seed’ in to a deep pot with the pointed end of the coconut downwards, 2/3rds under the soils surface and 1/3 showing above. Well-drained soil mixed with vermiculite in a 3:1 ratio will give best results and the pot needs to be big enough to accommodate growing roots.
Now here’s the point where a warm climate kicks in, as you need to place in a sunny, warm spot, ensuring that your coconut seed is kept well-watered but not soaked – too wet and it will smell and spoil.
Be patient – just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, the coconut needs up to 6 months to sprout so patience truly is a virtue. But if you live somewhere where you can get it to this point, the sense of achievement makes the wait worthwhile. Keep it healthy by ensuring the palm has enough water, and if you replant due to space, remember to add vermiculite to the soil once again. Coconut palms need a lot of feeding with a quality fertiliser so look for one that has magnesium, manganese and boron. They can be a sensitive plant to grow so take the responsibility seriously and examine regularly for any signs of disease.