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Florida Landscape Hedge: The Cocoplum

Red-tipped leaves with clusters of young fruit.

Red-tipped leaves with clusters of young fruit.

The Cocoplum Plant

The red tip cocoplum is a common sight in Florida landscapes. In particular, this plant has become prevalent in South Florida. If you live in Florida, you may see this plant so often that it has never really stood out. However, because of the durability and attractiveness of the plant, it has become common in parking lots and roadsides. The growth rate is desirable for many people as well. Cocoplum varieties can be found at many nurseries in Florida and are priced reasonably. Different sizes of the plant are often available as well.

Why Florida?

This plant makes a great landscape plant for Florida yards. It can be grown as a shrub, or it can grow as a tree and reach heights of around twenty feet tall. The plant thrives in the direct Florida sun and can be grown in various soil conditions, from wet to sandy. In favorable conditions, the red tip cocoplum can grow well without any fertilizers. It is not susceptible to very many pests or diseases. The plant typically does not require very much care once it is established. These factors make this plant easy to care for and a favorite for landscapers. It is also a good choice for growing as a privacy hedge because it will grow to a good size, and the foliage is relatively thick.

Young cocoplum fruit.

Young cocoplum fruit.

The Growth and Care of a Cocoplum

Although this plant is said to have a medium growth rate, it can grow fairly fast. Typically, it does not grow very fast in the first few years. Fertilizing may help speed the growth rate. Growing it in clusters will make it very dense and bushy. A single plant can bush out and take up a large amount of space, so keep plant spacing in mind when planting.

The cocoplum can be hedged to shape, and cuts will grow back at a good rate. However, cutting it too much will keep it from producing the showy red leaves that make it so attractive and give it the "red tip." Hedging it less often will give it a more natural and native look. Additionally, the plant grows small white flowers that arrive in Spring. The flowers will attract pollinators, such as bees, to the landscape.

Where to Put the Cocoplum

This plant is suitable for growing on the edges of property, acting as a barrier or windbreak. Also, the plant can grow well along walls, and it can grow very dense. Another good use for this plant is using it as a component of passive cooling for a home. The thick growth can shade exterior walls, act as insulation to the wall, and reduce solar gain into a home.

Younger plants are more sensitive to cold weather and should be protected if temperatures reach freezing. Older plants are more resistant to cold, but they may have severe damage if temperatures drop much below freezing. The plant is best suited for growing in zones 10 and 11. It is rarely cold enough in South Florida for extended periods of time that the cocoplum will sustain cold damage. Heat and sun exposure isn't a problem for the cocoplum.

Cocoplum Fruit

The cocoplum grows an edible fruit. This fruit is small and has a purplish color. It can be eaten raw, right off the plant. It is juicy and has a mildly sweet flavor, but it is a tad pulpy with a single pit inside it. The fruit can be used to make jam or jelly. Being that it is a fruiting plant, it is attractive to wildlife. This is another benefit of having it in your yard. The fruit clusters add visual interest and give it additional color to go along with the green leaves with red tips.

Is the Cocoplum Right For Me?

Add the cocoplum to your landscape if you are looking for an easy to care for, hardy, heat-tolerant, and attractive plant. The red leaves are a delightful sight among other plants. It can be hedged to the size and shape you desire. The fruit serves multiple purposes and adds interest to your landscape. Other than trimming and hedging, you will find this plant to be rather easy to care for.


Bob Roper on May 17, 2019:

It tastes like a cross between a coconut and a plum. I wonder how it got its name.

Julio Torres69 on May 04, 2019:

Cocoplums have a growth height and span of 12' tall and 12' wide..

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KMS on March 29, 2018:

You mention, that the growth rate is desirable for many people as well. However, you do not mention what the growth rate is.

onthegrind (author) from Florida, United States on July 31, 2017:

It should grow in a pot, but will provide more care to keep it healthy. They grow rather large as well. In ground is your best bet.

Doreen on July 08, 2017:

Can i grow coco plum in containers?

onthegrind (author) from Florida, United States on April 29, 2012:

Peggy W, I know what you mean about not having room to add shrubs. These things can get pretty big too, but I love their look and how low maintenance they are. Thanks for the comment.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 29, 2012:

Interesting article about the cocoplum. Although we do not have any more room to add shrubs to our landscaping, I am always interested in learning about plants. This one sounds like a winner for all the reasons you stated. Voted up, interesting and useful. Thanks!

onthegrind (author) from Florida, United States on February 19, 2012:

Thanks for taking time to comment, thumbi7. I will do my best to add some more pictures of fruit, but I don't have any on my plants quite yet.

JR Krishna from India on February 19, 2012:

This is new information to me.

It is interesting to know about new plants. If possible, please add some photographs of fruits.

Thanks for SHARING:)

onthegrind (author) from Florida, United States on February 04, 2012:

Thanks for the comment. Although, I'm not sure how much I would miss Florida if I was in the Carolinas!

RTalloni on February 04, 2012:

Interesting to learn about the cocoplum--sometimes I miss Florida! Maybe we'll see some of the fruit in the Carolinas.

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