Coconut coir is a natural material made from the inner part of coconut husk. Though it is considered waste, this coir fiber is beneficial for plant growth, especially regarding its ability to retain water and nutrients. Another benefit of coconut coir for plants is it is slower to decompose compared to peat moss and other growing mediums. Thus, your plants can have a steady supply of nutrients.
Though it is good for growing plants, coconut coir cannot stand alone as it lacks essential nutrients, like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Therefore, this organic material formed of coco fiber needs other mediums to support these needs.
Gardeners usually spray liquid fertilizer to add nutrients. Furthermore, you must know how to choose the best coconut coir for plants as there are plenty of options in the market. It could be coconut coir pellets, chips, bricks, and more.
In addition, understanding how to mix coconut coir into existing garden soil is also important. Hence, we would like to help you by covering those topics in our article below. Read on to discover more about coconut coir for plants, how to choose and use it!
Table of Contents
- Type of Coco Coir
- Differences Between Coconut Coir and Other Growing Media
- How To Choose High Quality Coco Coir?
- Using Coconut Coir for Plants
- Do Plants Grow Faster in Coco Coir?
- Reuse Coco Coir for Gardening
- Best Coconut Coir Products for Plants
- Caring for Plants with Coconut Coir
- Final Thoughts
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Type of Coco Coir
If you want to start organic gardening, you can rely on coconut coir. Coconut coir is 100% organic and natural material that can ensure your plants grow well with no worries of dehydration. Besides, you can reuse coconut coir up to 3 times! This is, of course, beneficial for farmers and gardeners who wish to cut maintenance and production costs.
However, you must know which kind of coconut coir for plants that will suit your crops best. There are three basic types of coco coir you can use as plant support. Check them out!
1. Coco Coir Pith
In case you are about to switch from peat moss to coconut coir, you can consider making or buying coco coir pith. Coconut coir pith has a fine texture that is similar to peat moss and, thus, the water retention capacity is excellent. That’s why, some people refer to the pith as coco peat. Since it has moss characteristics, coco coir pith is best added to potting mix.
Moreover, mixing coconut coir into existing garden soil is also recommended. Nonetheless, you should not have only coco peat for growing medium. It can trap more water that will eventually disturb your plant’s root development.
In addition, it may contain high salt concentration. Therefore, you must rinse it well before using coco coir pith for your plants.
2. Coco Coir Fiber
Unlike coco pith with soft and fine textures, coco coir fiber has long and thin shape like hairs. They are removed from the husk after the drying process. You probably have met such coco fiber if you grow ornamental houseplants in the hanging baskets, like orchids.
This kind of coco coir fiber is good to improve drainage of potting mix and garden soil. Thus, the water can easily penetrate a plant’s root system. Nonetheless, the unprocessed coco coir fiber may not be as effective as the processed one, though both can help retain water.
3. Coco Coir Chips
As the name suggests, coconut coir chips are small chunks, usually around 1-2 cm, made from coconut husks. They consist of fiber that make them have both characteristics of coco pith and coco fiber.
Coco coir chips are also popularly used in mulch as they can penetrate the water and improve aeration well. Besides, this growing media also works great with soil. Thus, mixing coconut coir into existing garden soil is a great idea!
Differences Between Coconut Coir and Other Growing Media
Producing and harvesting your own food from your garden is quite popular nowadays. Not only does it help reduce the impact of global warming, but it also provides you with nutritious fruits and vegetables to nourish your body. Besides, those who use their garden to grow flowers also benefit from the appeal that can adorn their open space.
Nonetheless, many still use peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite, non-renewable gardening products to provide drainage of potting soil. What are the differences between coconut coir and these other growing media?
1. Peat Moss
Peat moss is a decayed organic material that is found under peat bogs. It is usually found in the wet and cold climate of the Northern Hemisphere, like Canada. People commonly add peat moss to the potting soil to hold water, lower the pH level of the soil, and serve as pest control since it is sterile. You can also use peat moss for organic gardening.
Unfortunately, peat moss is not an environmentally friendly option. It is non-renewable material that needs thousands of years to create. Besides, harvesting peat moss can result in the release of methane and carbon dioxide.
In comparison to the coconut coir, peat moss decomposes relatively slower, making it a bit expensive for the maintenance cost as you need to buy more in a short period of time.
Meanwhile, perlite is minerals that are made from volcanic eruption. They are the size of popcorns, but sometimes you can also meet one with ashes textures. Similar to coconut coir, it has alkaline pH and improves water absorption in the soil. Thus, it can easily penetrate a plant’s root system but escape the soil rather quickly.
Furthermore, perlite can provide essential minerals for the plant support, while coconut coir needs fertilizer or other media as it lacks nutrients. It is also sterile, so perlite is a great alternative to support plant propagation. As it is mineral, perlite is not an eco-friendly material. So, if you are concerned about the environment, you can choose coconut coir pellets or chips instead.
You may be confused between perlite and vermiculite. Like perlite, vermiculite is natural occurring minerals that are commonly mined from the open pit of the mining area. They appear like rocks and have dark gray colors. While retaining water is the main use of vermiculite, enhancing soil structure is also its goal, just like coco coir.
The main difference between vermiculite and coco coir lies in the weight and texture. Coco coir is lighter and has a fluffy texture, while vermiculite is fine granules, sometimes flakes. Besides, vermiculite is not renewable. That’s why, many consider coco coir that is more sustainable and available widely in the market.
How To Choose High Quality Coco Coir?
While having coconut coir soil is beneficial for your plants and crops, not many have the best quality you can expect to support root development and plant’s growth. Hence you must know how to choose high quality coco coir that can provide excellent water retention, boost nutrient absorption, and serve as soil conditioner.
In case you are a beginner in using organic coconut coir, we have summed up several factors you can take into consideration before purchasing coco coir products:
1. Drying Method
Coconut coir is sold dry in the market. While methods of drying vary, many producers will opt for machinery drying, like using an oven. It is quite effective since such a drying method is faster.
Nonetheless, oven drying can damage the coil fiber which is advantageous to offer better aeration and hold up water. Hence, we recommend choosing coco coir dried under the sun for the best quality.
2. Moisture Content
Even though coconut coir must be dry when sold in the market, it doesn’t mean that the product must be completely dry out. It should have a maximum of 20% of moisture content to keep it a bit damp. This will allow you to reuse coconut coir in your garden up to three times.
3. Less Impurities
Just like other gardening products, coconut coir with less impurities is always preferable. It also becomes one of the major signs that your coco coir is high quality. If you find impurities in your coco coir, meaning that the machine, like the drying one, is probably contaminated or not properly cleaned.
Using Coconut Coir for Plants
By reaching this section, we assume you have some insights about how to choose coconut coir for plants. Now, we would like to share some tips on how to start sustainable gardening with coconut coir.
Not only are we going to focus on using coconut coir as a growing medium, but we will also cover step by step on adding coconut coir on your mulch and potting mix. Let’s take a look!
1. Using Coconut Coir As A Growing Medium
Coco coir is commonly used as a growing medium for both seedlings, mature plants, and plant propagation. As you may know, it is great to loosen the compact soil, improve water retention, and help your plants have a steady nutrient supply throughout their growing stage.
You can either choose coco coir chips, pith, or fiber to support your plant growth. For example, growing plants in coconut coir pellets, like fresh vegetables, herbs, or ornamental plants, maintains soil moisture but doesn’t make it soggy.
But one thing you must remember, soak the pellets before using one. We love to use warm water for seedlings to provide proper temperatures. Then, leave it for 10 minutes and press them. Next, mist the pellets with water and add the seeds to the pellets’ holes. Nonetheless, growing plants in coconut coir pellets are not suitable for acidophilic ones.
2. Using Coconut Coir in Potting Mixes
In addition to the growing medium, organic coconut coir is popular to add in the potting mix with other growing media, like perlite, vermiculite, and soil garden. This combination is fantastic to improve aeration, boost water retention, and ensure strong root growth.
Luckily, it is possible to make your own coconut coir potting mix at home. All you need to do is prepare coconut coir then soak them into warm water for approximately 15-30 minutes. Then, add either vermiculite or perlite and compost just about the same amount as the coir. Next, mix them well. Now, it is ready to use in your garden or coir pots!
3. Using Coconut Coir As Mulch
Farmers and gardeners are happy to use coco coir as mulch because they can cut off around 50% of water use in their fields and gardens. Of course, it will reduce their production and maintenance costs. Besides, coil mulch serves as plant disease prevention as it is sterile. Furthermore, it helps maintain soil temperature, especially in the winter.
You can buy coco coir mulch in the market and soak them for around 15 minutes in the water until the size is 5-7 times larger. Then, add them on the top layer of your garden bed for about 2-3 inches. We strongly recommend having landscape cloth before adding the coir mulch as plant disease prevention.
Do Plants Grow Faster in Coco Coir?
Plants that are grown on this organic material formed of coco fiber are believed to develop faster than those that are cultivated on the soil. But amazingly, that’s the fact!
Unlike compact soil, coconut coir is fluffy and lightweight. Thus, allowing your plants’ roots to move freely to absorb nutrients. That way, they can have proper nutrient supply that will eventually speed up their growth.
With easy access to these nutrients, plant energy can be diverted to focus on development and growth. Besides, coconut coir contains Trichoderma spp., a natural, soil-borne microorganisms that help suppress pathogenic bacteria causing plant diseases.
As a result, your plants will flourish faster and healthier than growing them in the soils. In addition, coconut coir is rich in growth hormones. Hence, you may expect an abundant harvest if you use coconut coir in your hydroponic garden.
Furthermore, coconut coil is a great medium for worm bedding. Its high moisture and warm temperature offers a perfect growing environment to reside and break down the organic matter. It’s no wonder that coconut coir is often used as a vermicomposting medium to produce useful fertilizer to boost the plant growth.
You can also imagine that using coco coir for your potting soil will indirectly attract worms to reside. They will help maintain soil fertility and thus enhance the growth of your crops.
Reuse Coco Coir for Gardening
Despite some arguing that coco coir is a bit more expensive than peat moss, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. You can reuse this 100% organic material for up to three times with the storage period around 9 months. This method allows you to save your money as well as protect the environment from unnecessary wastes of your garden.
However, you must recondition your coco coir before reusing coconut coir in the garden for the next planting. It is crucial to prevent pests and weeds that may migrate through the growing medium.
Here are some tips to properly recondition your coco coir:
- Break your coco coir into parts and remove the roots left from the previous planting.
- Use distilled water to wash the coconut coir. It is important as this kind of water is sterile. Thus, preventing microbes from traveling to the choir.
- To remove any dead roots, you can use nutrient enzyme solution. Just soak the coir into it for 30 minutes.
- You may add beneficial microbes to the coir if you want to enhance the plant’s growth. Spraying fertilizer is also ok!
- Now, the coir is all set and ready to use!
Best Coconut Coir Products for Plants
If you want to make your own coconut coir at home, we think that’s the best bet as you can save some budget to grow your plants.
Nonetheless, those who don’t have time to get their hands dirty by peeling, mixing, and sieving the coconut husks and fibers, you can check on the best coconut coir products for plants we have compiled below!
1. CANNA Coco Brick 40L
In case you are looking for coco coir products that will do great for seedlings, this CANNA Coco Brick 40L may be the best answer. It includes two pieces of long bricks you can break up into four.
What we love about this product is they have holes in the middle where you can put the seeds of your favorite herbs or vegetables and add potting soil in it. Moreover, the producer also claims this product has been pre-washed, so the salt content is rather low. Grab one set for only $18.64!
2. FOXFARM Coco Loco Potting Mix
For those who want to start hydroponics, organic gardens, or greenhouse gardening, this FOXFARM Coco Loco Potting Mix must be enlisted to the must-try list! It has a lower salt content, thanks to the three-time washing process.
We also recommend this potting mix product because it features a hydroponic feeding schedule. Thus, ensuring you will grow your veggies, herbs, and plants successfully. In addition, it contains low humidity that can protect the coco coir mix from fungi. You can buy one at Walmart for $42.86 and get around two cubic feet you may use for a long time.
3.GROW!T JSCPB Coco Coir Mix Brick (Pack of 3)
Now, you don’t have to worry if you want to plant crops outdoors because this Coco Coir Mix Brick allows you to grow both indoor and outdoor. Especially, if you wish to organically grow your crops! It is also pathogen-free, ensuring your crops grow healthily with abundant harvest.
Another thing we love from this coir brick is that it is ideal for hanging baskets. So, you can add it to your plants in your patio with no worries about water leaking. Plus, it only costs you $19.63 for three packs!
Caring for Plants with Coconut Coir
Coconut coir is not tricky to care for. You only need to keep them moist all the time, but not too greasy. However, the care of plants that use coconut coir as a growing medium depends on the type of plant. Here are some tips on how to care for them!
1. Coco Coir for Hydroponics
If you are into hydroponics or interested in trying one, you better use coconut coir. These natural fibers contain growth hormones that can boost your crops growth. Not only that, their thin and fibrous textures also boots nutrient absorption. They are also slower to decompose, have alkaline pH, and feature anti-fungal properties your plants need to survive from fungal diseases.
The only thing you have to watch out of your coco coir medium is the salt concentration. Make sure you wash them off before adding to your hydroponic systems.
In addition, you must add nutrients from time to time (at least once a month) since coir doesn’t contain adequate nutrients to support your plant’s growth. You can also introduce worm castings or beneficial microbes to the system if you wish to have healthier plants with higher yields.
2. Coco Coir for Ornamental Plants
Given the long and thin, brown fibers, coconut coir is a favorite growing media among ornamental plants’ enthusiasts. Not only does it provide many benefits for their plants, this natural material also works awesome as decorative appeal.
Many of them use coconut coir for their orchids or ferns on the hanging baskets. It will help your houseplants to absorb water slowly and offer better access to oxygen since the roots are pretty exposed due to the porous fiber materials. Nonetheless, there’s always something to be taken into consideration.
Since coconut coir has a great porosity, it will let the growing media to drain quickly. Hence, you must mist them regularly whenever it is about to dry.
Moreover, it also applies to coco pole or coir pole that is commonly used to support vines or creeping plants like Monstera. You can spray the pole occasionally to ensure it is damp and not completely dry out.
3. Coco Coir for Succulents
Some people argue that coconut coir is not great for succulents. It is because succulents belong to the arid plants whose natural habitat is dry and hot desert with poor soils. So, having the coir as a growing medium is not a good option as it can hold water longer in the soil, posing risk of root rot to the plants.
On the other hand, we think that it is okay to grow succulents on the coir as long as you grow them outside or near windowsill where they can get better air circulation and lighting.
If you want to try growing this arid plant with coco coir, you better choose the dry coir potting mix and add them to the soil. Next, water thoroughly but not deeply. You can water it again once it is completely dry unless the roots will drown in the water.
Having coconut coir for plants is the best idea if you want to ensure they have good water retention, better nutrient absorption, and improve soil structure. Nonetheless, the benefits of coconut soil goes way beyond that. In fact, it is an excellent vermicomposting medium to grow worms that will produce compost for your plants.
Not only that, you can also make coir poles or coco poles to support your vines, instead of leaving them creeping on the walls. Besides, coconut coir also features growth hormones that will boost your plant’s growth even more.
Regarding the care, you can adjust the maintenance based on the plants you grow. And the best thing is, it is reusable for up to three times! So, you can save lots of money by using coconut coir for your plants!
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is coconut coir good for plants?
Using coconut coir for indoor plants or plants in your garden is a brilliant idea! The coir fiber ensures excellent water retention. Thus, you can guarantee the roots are well-hydrated and develop properly. In addition, enhancing soil structure is another benefit of adding coconut coir in the potting soil.
Can you use coco coir instead of soil?
Sustainable gardening with coconut coir is popular. But, it doesn’t mean that we can completely exclude soil. Coco coir doesn’t have as many nutrients like soil does, so you should add more fertilizer when you only have coconut coir in the pots. Besides, drainage of potting soil with vermiculite and perlite is much better than mere coir.
What plants like coconut coir?
Coconut coir is generally excellent to add to potting mix. Not only serves as a soil conditioner, it is also great as water retention, ensuring the roots are well-hydrated. The best ones that are recommended to grow in coconut coir soil are orchids, ferns, snake plants, bromeliads, and anthuriums.
However, not all plants can grow well in coconut coir soil. Arid plants, like succulents and cacti, suffer to grow under coco coir potting mix due to its water retention feature that may drown their roots.
How many times can you reuse coco coir?
Reusing coconut coir in the garden is possible and, in fact, it is cost-effective, especially for farmers and gardeners. You can reuse coconut coir for around two or three times.
In addition, you may keep the coco coir for up to 9 months! Even though it is relatively shorter than peat moss which can last for a year, coconut coir is more eco-friendly and slower to decompose.
Can you overwater plants in coco coir?
You can overwater coconut coir as a growing medium. In fact, your plants will withstand such a condition pretty well. However, we don’t recommend adding too much water as the coir surface may grow green algae. Besides, you will expect fungus gnats more often if you wet your coconut coir constantly.
Do you need to add fertilizer to coco coir?
Using coconut coir for indoor plants is a great option to replace peat moss as it is natural material that’s not harmful to our environment.
Nonetheless, coconut coir doesn’t have essential nutrients that are good for growing plants, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Hence, you should add fertilizer to coco coir, for example, the liquid fertilizer to ensure they are loaded with nutrients for the plant growth.
Can coco coir get pests?
If you use coconut coir as a growing medium for your organic gardening, you don’t have to worry about pests. Unlike soil-growing plants that require pest control agents to get rid of the culprit insects or bugs, coco coir does not attract pests. However, don’t leave your coconut coir constantly damp to prevent fungi and fungus gnats to come.