Table of Contents
- What Is Coconut Coir and Why Is It Useful?
- Coconut Coir vs Peat Moss
- The Benefits of Making Your Own Coconut Coir
- How To Make Coconut Coir At Home?
- Common Problems and Solutions for Coconut Coir
- Tips for Storing Coconut Coir
- Best Coconut Coir Products
- How To Use Coconut Coir As A Growing Medium
- Final Thoughts
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Grab your pliers and remove the husk from the coconut shells, add the separated husks to the mixer to make coco fiber powder, pour the powder to the bowl and add water to the bowl with fine powder, and mix it with spoons until they form a slurry-like texture. Lastly, pour it into the container and compress it until forming the container’s shape.
Nowadays, gardeners are starting to be concerned about environmental impacts of the gardening products they use, especially to the soil. For that reason, they tend to look for a sustainable alternative that is more eco-friendly but expected to have satisfying results. One of the popular sustainable gardening products to improve and loosen the soil is coconut coir. So, how to make coconut coir and what is that?
Coconut coir is usually added to the potting mix to ensure good drainage. Besides commonly available in the potting mix, other uses of coconut coir in gardening are improving orchid growth and hydroponic medium by making them into coco coir bricks.
Given the extraordinary benefits of coconut coir for gardening, many want to know how to make coconut coir and prepare the coconut’s husk. Hence, we give you easy tips along with step-by-step how to make coco peat, how to use coconut coir, and prepare coco coir for use. Let’s dive in!
What Is Coconut Coir and Why Is It Useful?
As the name goes, coconut coir is the inner part of coconut’s husk which has a very strong fiber structure. Many also refer to coco coir as a byproduct of coconut husk processing. This natural fiber has a brownish color like earth. If you find this kind of coco coir, it is made from ripe coconut.
There’s another version with white color that comes from younger ones with softer textures. Some of the coconut fiber is used as a raw material for making mats, brooms, and brushes. Their sturdy structure ensures those households longevity and durability.
Apart from these uses, coconut coir gains more popularity as a sustainable alternative in gardening and farming to replace peat moss. Gardeners generally mix coconut coir with other media, such as manure and compost, to improve soil quality and provide good drainage.
That way, their plant’s roots will get well-hydrated while being prevented from rooting. Meanwhile, farmers use the coco coir bricks as a medium for their hydroponic agriculture, including vegetables.
Other benefits of coconut coir are they can loosen the compact soil structure. Or, in other words, these natural fibers give better aeration for your plant roots. Thus they can get better access to water and nutrients.
Furthermore, these coconut fibers enhance clay and sandy soils to boost fibrous roots growth and development since they can retain nutrients. Knowing these uses of coconut coir in gardening and farming, you better know how to make coco peat at home. You will find out soon in the following section!
Coconut Coir vs Peat Moss
If you are a beginner in gardening or farming, you may be confused to tell the difference between coconut coir and peat moss. Unlike coconut coir, peat moss is not made from plants.
It comes from organic, fibrous materials that are generally harvested from the cold and wetlands of the Northern Hemisphere, particularly the northern parts of the United States and Canada. Nonetheless, peat moss contains decayed plant parts of sphagnum moss. Hence, you will commonly see it is sold as peat sphagnum in the market.
Generally, peat moss has a pH level around 3.3 to 4.0. Hence, gardeners will add peat moss to the soil to lower the pH level and provide better soil aeration.
They are also sterile and have high acidity, making peat moss disease-free gardening products the gardeners can rely on. Besides, you can also add peat moss to coir mulch to offer better drainage and improve natural microbial growth as they both retain soil nutrients.
Unfortunately, peat moss is not sustainable as the source is not renewable. They form under cold water bogs for thousands of years before forming peat moss. And so, scientists are concerned that their harvest can damage the environment.
The peat moss harvesting process is predicted to release 10% carbon and methane into the atmosphere. It is, of course, worrying because it can increase the greenhouse gas effect.
Although the uses for gardening are similar, coconut coir is preferable than peat moss when viewed from an environmental perspective. Given that its resources are more accessible, coco coir is also considered more affordable than peat moss.
Also, coconut husks decompose slowly, meaning they will stay longer in the soil to enhance soil quality, compared to the peat moss. This is good news for gardeners and farmers because it can cut production and planting costs.
The Benefits of Making Your Own Coconut Coir
Before jumping into the topic of how to make coconut coir, let’s take a look at what benefits coco coir offers gardeners and farmers for the sake of their plants’ growth. In addition, we will also break down why making your own coco coir gives advantages. Let’s find out!
1. Reduce Coconut Waste
As we discussed earlier, coconut coils are made from coconut husk waste. For your information, the husk comprises 40-57% of the whole coconut. And it is predicted that around 29.2 Mt/year of husk is produced worldwide. That’s a huge number!
By turning these wastes into coco coir, you help reduce the husk wastes. Instead, you turn something that are considered unuseful parts of coconut into something beneficial for agriculture and gardening. In addition, you can get plenty of coco coir supply to nourish your plants.
2. Save Cost Production
Coconut coirs are considered expensive by some because they are imported from Asia. But, how if you can make them your own? Of course, that will cut your maintenance budget for your crops or houseplants. Besides, they have better characteristics than peat moss as they can last longer in the soil.
Thus, you do not have to buy or make more. In addition, coco coir is reusable. You can use them 2 or 3 times! Not to mention the storage period that can last up to 9 months, making coco coir worth making at home.
3. Have Happy Plants!
It is common knowledge that coconut coir has characteristics that benefit your plants. These natural fibers can improve soil aeration, allowing the soil to breathe and reduce compactness.
They also work great to increase water and nutrient absorption as they retain nutrients longer. It is because the coconut husk decomposes slowly. Thus, your plants can get a steady supply of nutrients.
In dry conditions, coco coir helps keep soil moisture. So, your plant roots will not get dehydrated. Furthermore, adding coconut coir to the soil can boost soil microbes growth. With all the benefits, are you sure you don’t want to know how to make coconut coir at home?
How To Make Coconut Coir At Home?
Having tons of benefits for plants, coconut coir is actually a byproduct of coconut husk processing. In Asia, coconut coir making helps to reduce waste.
Though you can buy one from the gardening product stores, it is always better to make homemade coco peat on your own. So, how to make coconut coir easily at home? Here are steps you can follow!
1. What You Need To Prepare?
Before you are going to produce coconut coir at home, there are some materials you need to prepare for the coconut coir making, such as:
- Coconut as the main ingredient.
- Sturdy and sharp pliers or husk remover to remove the husk.
- Container to accommodate the husk and the homemade coco peat.
- Bowl to pour the coconut fiber powder.
- Sieve to remove the fibrous fiber.
- Electric mixer or blender to make the coconut fiber into powder.
- Water to mix with the powder.
- Spoons to mix and stir the powder with water.
- Hand gloves as protection.
2. The Process of Making Coconut Coir At Home
Now that you have prepared all the necessary materials to produce coconut coir at home, we can move on into the coir making process.
We will get through this step-by-step in detail to make your own coconut coir at home, so that you can easily follow this simple guide. Let’s try it!
- Grab your pliers and remove the husk from the coconut shells. Make sure you have sharp ones as the husk may be tricky and hard to peel off.
- If you have long and clumpy husks, you can hand separate them before adding them to the mixer or blender.
- After that, add the separated husks to the mixer to make coco fiber powder.
- Next, pour the powder to the bowl you have prepared and sieve the powder into another clean bowl.
- Now, add water to the bowl with fine powder and mix it with spoons or trowel until they form a slurry-like texture.
- Lastly, pour the coco coir slurry into the prepared container and compress it until forming the container’s shape. And you are all set! You can create potting soil with coconut coir or make coconut coir for composting.
Common Problems and Solutions for Coconut Coir
Along with the many advantages of using coconut fiber for gardening, they also have disadvantages. What are the drawbacks of coco coir for planting? Check them out below!
1. Alkaline pH
One of the common problems of coco coir for planting is alkaline pH, around 5.8 to 6.8. It will be a problem especially for plants that require acidic soils. But you can easily add sulfur, peat moss, or acidic fertilizers to balance out the soil pH.
2. High Salt Concentration
Some manufacturers involve washing with brine in the coir making process. Besides, the natural habitat of the coconut palm is along the coast which allows salt from seawater to be absorbed into the coconut.
This causes coconut coir to contain a high concentration of salt, possessing salt injury risk to your plants. Hence, it is always better to rinse them before using coconut coir for composting or planting.
3. Retain Too Much Water
This issue especially occurs in plants that live in arid conditions, such as succulents and cacti. Thus, some indoor plant enthusiasts do not recommend coconut coir for succulents and cacti. The water trapped too long in the roots can cause decay and slowly kill them.
We also do not prefer coconut coir for bonsai for the same reason. If you want to add the coir, make sure to offer a bit and grow your succulents outdoors. That way, the water can evaporate quickly.
4. Lack of Nutrients
Even though coco coir can retain nutrients well from the soil does not mean they are rich in them. They mostly contain cellulose, marking up around 41.7% if they are made from ripe coconut. Unfortunately, your plants need way more than that.
For their growth, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are required. In this case, you must add other media, such as manure, compost, with your coconut coir for indoor plants or those in the gardens to ensure their nutrient supplies.
Tips for Storing Coconut Coir
You have familiarized yourself with how to make coconut coir. Now, it’s time to know how to store coconut coir properly. Storing coconut coir is a bit tricky. You cannot let them dry completely nor let them get too wet all the time.
But, don’t worry! We have tips on storing coconut coir easily for you.
- Use your ziplock bags. These kinds of bags are essential to remove the air and protect your coconut coir from dry out. Besides, they help prevent contamination from bacteria as long as you store it properly, not in the high humidity areas.
- Containers with lids are fine! They have similar principles with the ziplock bags by expelling the air from the container. That way, hopefully, microorganisms that need oxygen cannot grow.
- Mist them regularly. Spraying water to the coconut coir will hydrate them well and evenly. Thus, preventing the coir from drying out. In this case, you can reuse your coconut coir for about 2-3 times for around 9 months. But still, we do not recommend using coconut coir for succulents or other arid plants if you grow them indoors. Instead, add coconut coir for orchids for the best growth!
As an additional information, you can sterilize coconut coir to prevent pathogenic microbial and fungal growth. It is also beneficial to kill insects, larvae, or even their eggs which may be hidden in the damp coir. All you need to do is to set your oven’s temperature at 180°F for half an hour. After that, you can mist them again and keep them in a sealed bag or a container.
Best Coconut Coir Products
In addition to the coconut coir for potting mix, there are several coconut coir products you can buy in the market. They include coco coir bricks, pellets, and chips.
If you want to buy one for your indoor houseplants, garden plants, or hydroponic agriculture but do not know what to start, we have compiled some of the best coconut coir products you can buy. Check them out!
1. CANNA Coco Bricks
As the name suggests, coconut coir bricks are made from coconut fiber compressed into bricks. They are commonly used as starter media for hydroponics. Besides, it is a well-known coconut coir for orchids, especially if you are the growers.
We have our favorite coir bricks from CANNA Coco Brick. One set comes in two pieces which you can break down into four, thanks to the long rectangle shapes. They also have perforated designs which allow better water absorption. You can buy one pack for around $32.5 at Walmart! Pretty affordable for 40 L of soil.
2. Burpee Super Growing Coir Pellets
While some other coco coir products contain other media, like peat moss, coco coir pellets are not. They come from pure coconut fiber, which are produced by coconut husk waste. Gardeners or farmers usually add coco coir pellets as seedlings.
You can have potting soil with coconut coir pellets for the best results. One of our most-liked recommendations is Burpee Super Growing Coir Pellets. They come in various sizes you can choose from depending on your plant trays. Get them for around $17.95 on Burpee.
3. Prococo Chips-N-Fiber Premium Coconut Husk
Another coco coir product you can choose is coconut coir chips. They are basically coconut husks chopped into small pieces. You can add these coco chips with potting mix to improve soil aeration.
Hence, the plant roots can have balanced moisture in the growing media. If you want to try this one, we recommend purchasing Prococo Chips-N-Fiber Premium Coconut Husk. They are low in salt and feature pest-resistant. Amazingly, you can even give it to your reptile pets, in case you have one. Buy them on Amazon for about $34.99!
How To Use Coconut Coir As A Growing Medium
It will be unfortunate if you know how to make coconut coir at home but do not understand how to prepare coconut coir for use. Hence, we are here to tell you how to use coconut coir for certain plants. Interested? Let’s take a look!
1. Coconut Coir for Orchids
In their natural habitat, most orchids grow attached to the trees. No wonder that they will flourish better with coconut coir as medium. You can use coconut chips or coco coir bricks, depending on your preference. Either way, all you need to do is to buy one pack and soak the necessary amount of the coir in the water overnight.
We recommend adding perlite and charcoal as the additional media to improve the good drainage. Soak them all together. After that, you can transfer your orchid to a new pot and put the media into the pot, surrounding the roots. Don’t forget to remove excess water first before adding the coir, perlite, and charcoal into the plant container.
2. Coconut Coir for Indoor Plants
Coco coir preparation for houseplants and garden is pretty similar. All you need to do is hydrate the coir. If you use bricks, you must take a large container filled with warm water then soak the brick into it. The amount of water depends on the brick’s size.
In case you have 5 kilo bricks, you will need 4-5 gallons of water. Allow the bricks to soak up the water for around 15 minutes. You can also add NPK liquid fertilizer to add more nutrients.
Moreover, it is especially required for plants in the growing phase. For indoor plants, please take only small parts of the coconut coir as you do not want to make your plants overwhelmed with too much moisture. However, we never recommend coconut coir for bonsai as it is not suitable for their roots.
3. Coconut Coir for Succulents
The preparation of coconut coir for succulents is the same as those for indoor plants. However, it must be taken into account that succulents and cacti are desert plants. They love dry and poor soils. So, you will choke their roots if you put too much damp coir to the soil.
If you have added the coco coir, you must track the watering schedule to avoid overwatering. We also recommend having perlite, sand, or pumice to balance the growing medium composition.
Coconut coir is the inner part of coconut husk which is often considered as waste. In fact, this part is coconut fiber which is useful for improving soil quality. Adding coco coir to the soil may help boosting soil microbes, providing better aeration, and allowing better nutrient absorption. Luckily, the coil making process is not tricky.
So, you can make it at home. Besides how to make it, you have to know how to use, store, and sterilize coconut coir. You can reuse them 2-3 times and they will last for 9 months, generally. But if you make mistakes in storing them, for example, and they grow molds, you cannot use them again.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is there a disadvantage of using coconut coils?
Though they have many benefits, coconut coir comes with disadvantages too! One of the most common drawbacks of coconut coir for gardening is they contain high salt concentration due to the process and natural habitat they grow. Besides, they also lack nutrients.
Thus, you must mix coconut coir with other media if you want to support your plants’ growth. In addition, they are a bit expensive in America, knowing they must be imported from Asia.
How long will the coir last?
Depending on the coconut coir types you have, they can roughly last around 2 to 4 years. If you have the composted one, they will be good for planting around 4 years. On the other hand, you can only use the non-composted coco coir for maximum two years before ditching them to the compost bin.
Can coco coir grow bacteria?
People mostly know coconut coir for indoor plants and gardening as they can improve soil quality, especially the aeration. They use it as coir mulch or even add it with their compost. But little did they know that this coco coir can help growing soil microorganisms, particularly Trichoderma fungus. This fungus produces enzymes that can enhance the composting process.
Does mold grow in coco coir?
Coconut coir contains cellulose, lignin, and other polysaccharides that are home for molds. Hence, you can expect white molds growing on the coir if you store them in a high humidity area. It is also a sign of overwatering and lack of circulation.
Why is my coco coir turning white?
If you notice white fuzzy things growing on your coco coir, that’s the sign of Penicillium presence. It may occur due to high humidity and no air circulation. But, don’t worry! They are harmless for your plants and humans. All you need to do is check on the water content. Make sure not to overwater your coir.
How many times can you reuse coco coir?
Despite having a higher price than peat moss, you can reuse coco coir up to three times! It is possible due to the sturdy and vigorous structure of coco coir that is better than peat moss. With that being said, it means you can cut your maintenance cost a lot!
Should you let coco coir dry out?
You can let the coco coir top dry out a bit between watering schedules. However, you must NOT let one completely dry. It will inhibit your plants from absorbing adequate nutrients. If this issue persists, you may slow down your plant growth.