The coconut tree is a tropical plant that thrives in hot and humid climates. This exotic plant brings a signature vibe of beachy landscapes and produces irresistible coconuts.
Imagining various tropical dishes with fresh coconuts from your garden, you likely get tempted to have one on your own.
Don’t rush. There are only a few locales in the US, such as Hawaii and Florida, where coconut palms can grow. How about growing a coconut tree in Texas? Keep reading to find out.
Is It Possible To Plant A Coconut Tree In Texas?
It depends on which part of the State you mean. Where do coconut trees grow in Texas? Let’s look at the USDA climate map below.
Coconuts are tropical evergreen trees, meaning they are native to the tropical climate like Hawaii. They cannot tolerate cold temperatures or freezing conditions.
The best hardiness zones for a coco palm tree should be from 10 – 12. The temperature range of 85 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or at least 72°F, is conducive to coconut trees.
As shown on the map, there are a few parts of Deep South Texas lying in Zone 10, which fulfills the climate requirement.
The areas of South Texas around McAllen and South Padre Island, Cameron County (Houston, Brownsville, Port Isabel, and South Padre) are the warmest locations where a coconut tree can grow outdoors for several years.
Meanwhile, in most other parts of the State, they must be planted in large, movable containers.
Additionally, the warm plant hardiness zones extend farther from the South Texas borders due to global warming.
Some areas, with cooling features which used to be inhospitable to warm-weather species, started welcoming them. The possibility of Texas coconut without too many heating features is getting higher.
Guide to Growing and Caring for Coconut Trees in Texas
You need to germinate the coconut seeds for 3-6 months, plant them when the seedlings reach 1 finger long, and care for them by watering and fertilizing.
You can simply start your project with a potted nursery plant. However, my experience suggests that propagating from seed is much better, especially in colder climates.
Further than being more economical, this method likely produces a stronger and more quality plant.
The following step-by-step guide will provide you with how to germinate coconut fast:
- Step 1: Choose a nut. If you shake a ripe coconut and hear lots of water sloshing inside, it is the ideal seed for germination. You shouldn’t pick coconuts without their tan husks.
- Step 2: Submerge the nut in a bucket of water (lukewarm water over 70 degrees preferrable) for 3-4 days. This step aims to soften the husk and activate germination quicker.
- Step 3: Prepare a large plant container of 12-16’’ diameter and well-draining potting soil mixed with compost, vermiculite, and sand. Fill the mixture in until 3-4 inches left to the rim.
- Step 4: Make a hole in the center that is spacious enough to accommodate the big nut. Put the pointy head down while keeping ⅓ – ½ of it uncovered.
- Step 5: Bring the pot to a warm and sunny spot. For best germination, I recommend a southern room with a minimum of 10 hours of direct sunlight. You should also keep the daily temperatures between 75 and 90 °F and never let it drop below 70 degrees.
Water frequently to maintain moist yet soggy planting soil. While lack of water will affect the pace of development, overwatering can make the nut rotten before it gets a chance to root.
- Step 6: Depending on the varieties, the germination process may take 3 to 6 months. I know it’s quite a long time, but all worth it at the moment you see the very first green leaves and roots striking out.
When the sprout grows to the length of your finger and the roots are around 6 – 8 inches long, the nut is ready for transplanting.
Depending on the local climate, you can grow it as an indoor plant or transplant it into the ground. In both cases, providing them with sandy and loose planting soil for better aeration and drainage is vital.
It is also advisable to use a granular 2-1-1 fertilizer on the first transplant, which helps the tree quickly adapt to the new environment and promotes growth.
This tropical plant would require a lot of sun and water.
Water the tree at least once to two times per week or more if needed. Always check the moisture and adjust the watering frequency accordingly.
Remember to keep a constant eye to make sure the soil is well-draining.
Coconut trees thrive at temperatures above 80°F. You can also bring the coco palm tree outdoors for more sunlight during warmer months.
Bring it to your house for overwintering when it gets colder than 40 – 50 degrees in winter months.
Be prepared that your tree will consume a large amount of fertilizer. Coconut palms are usually deficient in phosphorus, nitrogen, manganese, and boron.
Hence, add fertilizers rich in these nutrients to potting soil every two months in the first year to prevent yellowed leaves or slow growth.
After that, you can loosen the schedule of fertilizer applications to quarterly.
If fed sufficiently with adequate sunlight and humidity, a coco palm tree might begin its fruit forming after 5-6 years and can reach the highest annual yield rate of 75 fruits.
You have to wait 7-12 months from when it flowers to harvest fully mature coconuts, which are not only as fresh and nutritious drinks but also as coconut mulch for planting compost.
Common Diseases and Pests
There are several disease problems you need to beware of when growing a coconut tree in Texas.
The most common one is lethal yellow, which causes yellowing leaves, dropping fruits, and gradual death in coconut palms.
Normally, removal of diseased plants seems to be the best course of action. The treatment by antibiotics is quite useful yet compulsorily consistent for the remaining lifespan.
Besides, I recommend planting a disease-resistant variety like Malayan Dwarf as a worth-to-try preventive method.
Fungal bud rot is another concern. The possible cause is heavy rains or waterlogged soil.
Planting coconuts in sufficient direct sunlight and well-drained soil mix to reduce the risk of mushy roots. You can supplement fosetyl-Al as anti root rot, if necessary.
If you are fond of growing a coconut tree in Texas, give it a bet. Despite not being the best plant option for the Texan wilderness, they can adapt and survive the conditions.
To increase the likelihood of success, I suggest you should start with some cold-hardy varieties like windmill palms and follow my guide above.
Who knows, you could have an edible landscaping plant or enjoy its tasty fruits right in your yard.