The Garden Plant
SeaGrape Tree

Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera) Beach Protector

The Seagrape botanically known as (Coccoloba uvifera) is a tropical tree that grows in the Caribbean and in large parts of South Florida.

This tree is used often for ocean side landscaping, the tree provides shade for some and hedges for others. This tree typically branches off into multiple trunks and is found in sandy soil at the beach. The Seagrape produces clusters of fruits and flowers that look like grapes.

Even though the sea grape tree typically branches off into multiple trunks, it can be pruned to form one single trunk. Its size can be kept just as the size of a shrub or the Seagrape plant can grow up to be a 25-30 feet tree if left to it’s own devices.

After training a sea grape for up to 10 years, you will no longer need to put a lot of effort into caring for the plant or tree. After ten years the plant requires just a little care, watering and pruning from time to time to maintain the shape you desire.

Apart from the fact that the sea grape tree is attractive and can be used for decoration along freeways and boulevards, it is also used to make hedges or windbreaks on the beaches and marshes.

Sea Grape Tree
Seagrape Tree

How to Grow the Seagrapes Tree From Seed

Seagrapes grow fast from seed and well in warm coastal areas. These seeds should be gathered and sown in late summer, at the time when the fruit ripens.

These seeds do not require any pretreatment or scarification to enable successful germination as they are not dormant seeds. However, note that you need to take the seed out of the fruit and clean it thoroughly before planting to keep away mildew and rot.

To plant a Seagrape you’ll be needing:
A spoon
A paper towel
A large bucket
4-inch containers
A plastic wrap
A nylon pot scrubber
A propagation mat
Sterile compost
Fine sand

Now, here are the steps to follow:
Gather the seeds you need when the fruits have ripened to a deep purple color, nearly black.

Put three or four healthy seeds into a large bowl.
Crush the fruits gently against the bowl with your hands or a spoon. Soak the seeds in water and leave overnight, stirring them from time to time. Afterward, pick out the seeds.

Use a nylon scrubber to clean the seagrape seeds taking out any pieces of flesh clinging onto the seeds. After, rinse the seeds neat and place them on a paper towel then prepare the containers for growing.

Mix one-half sterile compost with one-half fine sand in 4-inch containers.

Plant the grape seeds in these 4-inch containers at a depth inch of 3/4, loosely covering the seeds with the mixture of compost and sand. To settle the mixture, water lightly.

Place the containers with the sea grape seeds near a window indoors with southern exposure. Put the pots on a propagation mat which has been set at eighty degrees Fahrenheit then use a sheet of plastic wraps to cover the pots.

Whenever the compost and sand mixture feels dry in the top 1/2 inch, water the sea grape seeds. Put in just enough water to keep the mixture moderately moist in the topmost 1 inch. As much as you shouldn’t let the compost mixture dry out completely in the process of germination, be sure not to overwater.

Twenty days after planting, look out for sprouting which may also take up to two months anyways. After the seeds germinate, take out the plastic wrap and the propagation mat.

Grow the seedlings in a warm area which should also be lightly shaded and outdoors until they are about 6 inches tall. When this happens, you can transplant the shrubs into its permanent bed well exposed to the sun on loamy and fast-draining soil.

Let the Seagrapes be spaced at least 15 feet away from one another.

How to Care for Seagrape

Here are a few tips for caring for and keeping your SeagrapeĀ  healthy:
Water freshly planted sea grape trees for a whole year after the planting. Water the root with two gallons of water every morning to keep it most through the day’s heat.

If the trying is less than two inches wide, water it every morning for two weeks, after that, water every other day for two months then once a week for the rest of the year.

If the trunk is 2 to 4 inches wide, water every morning for three months then once a week for the rest of the year, if the trunk is wider than 4 inches, water it every day for six weeks then every other day for five months and then once a week for the rest of the year.

If the soil drains slowly and becomes muddy, reduce the frequency of watering.
Keep the area 4 feet around the tree free from weed and grass to prevent competition with the tree.

Sea Grape Tree
Seagrape on Beach

Place organic mulch 2 to 3 inches deep around the weed-free area and avoid planning the mulch in the root ball to prevent the tree from growing surface roots which can girdle the trunk.

Add fresh mulch as necessary in the following years. Rake the old mulch before adding new mulch.

If your sea grape tree is just about 2 to 3 years, prune it in the winter to achieve the desired shape. Cut out undesirable branches, with sharp loopers, just above the collar of the raised branch where the branch grows from the trunk of the tree.

Remove multiple trunks to enable growth as a shade tree with one trunk and remove dead branches.

Look out for leaves that are turning yellow or red. This is an indicator of Hexeris anhydrous, a seagrape borer. Take out those branches with yellowish and reddish leaves.

Look out for reddish, withered, new leaf growth and honeydew on the leaves as well as little, pear-shaped bugs. These are an indicator of aphids.
Use a strong spray from a garden hose to take out the aphids and honeydew. Hose the whole tree being very conscious of the leaves’ undersides when those symptoms appear.

You can take out the damaged branches and leaves.
Thin the canopy of the tree to enable better circulation of air if white or gray lichen grows on the branches.

Brent Richard Dixon

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