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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Golden Coconut Palm among favorite for island feel

By Staff | Sep 9, 2015

The Golden Coconut Palm are linked closely with the grass family. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Golden Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera ‘Malayan Dwarf’)

First impression: Silky creamy tiny flowers in the effervescent cascade typical of palms. What a beautiful trunk with a tapering diameter, and lots of attitude. Super size, medium green, feather like fronds, (palm leaves), that have an arch to them. The frond stems are very thick and unarmed (no barbs) and emerge from a rough crown shaft. A solitary palm that reminds me of beaches and Florida, and when I first moved to paradise. You might also experience lots of memories and recollections looking at this palm, which can be seen, swaying in the breeze. We have oodles of this iconic palm blooming at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Coconut palm is on everyone’s favorite palm’s list. They are identifiable and make us all imagine we are lying in a beach side hammock, sipping an umbrella topped mojito.

Botanists now know palms are not really related to trees, but closer linked to the grass family. Their simple monocot structure makes them easy to replant and survive in hurricanes.

Our star has a rough shaft, which holds on to the brown fronds longer than a self cleaning smooth crown shaft. Many gardeners like to prune these palms for aesthetics. Leaving these brown fronds on or off doesn’t matter to the health of the palm. Removing the green fronds from any palm prematurely will damage your palm’s nutrition intake. Palms require a certain number of green fronds (varies from species to species) to perform photosynthesis.

The Golden Coconut Palm are linked closely with the grass family. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Hurricane cut is a term used when untrained landscapers or gardeners remove way too many fronds while trimming palms. These unskilled landscapers are trying to manage palms in a hap hazard method. Educated and palm-savvy landscapers know that hurricane cutting is very bad practice of trimming palms. Ironically, this cut is terrible for hurricanes and the survival of your palms. Leaving the correct amount of green fronds on your palms insures a higher survival rate after strong winds.

This beauty is great as a specimen or grouped in a formal or non-formal venue. Considered a tall palm whose mature height can be 60 feet, it is perfect for our temperatures of dry climates and coastal areas. Plant in partial shade to full sun in a well drained area. The Malayan Dwarf has proved highly resistant to lethal yellowing, and is the coconut of choice to plant. Our star is a nonnative plant and was a wonderful resource for the tropical ancestor’s way before supermarkets and stores. It would sustain them with fuel, medicine, shelter, baskets, clothing and of course – coconuts.

Pros:

Iconic Palm for South Florida

Does well in sandy soil

The Golden Coconut Palm are linked closely with the grass family. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Likes full sun

Easy to maintain/prune

Easily propagated by coconut or transplant

Get toll money from selling coconuts

Salt tolerance

Must have for tropical look in a garden

Fire resistant

Number one survivor in a hurricane

Great base for bird nesting boxes

Noninvasive

Cons:

Coconuts can be messy

Slow grower (ten years to form trunk)

Nonnative

Not Cold Hardy

Could go cuckoo for coconuts!

Conclusion: Coconut palm what garden superstar! Sways this way.sways that wayalways puts you in the perfect island mood.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!

**Remember we have a yearly fertilizer restriction during July 1 through Oct. 2. This is a very important mandatory restriction to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into our precious waterways. Any fertilizing during our rainy season, only ends up in our water resources as unwanted algae blooms.**