So, you’re growing green stuff, and you want to stay green all the way? Great! Using ecologically sustainable materials for your plants is a good way to preserve our planet’s resources.
And this is where coconut coir or coco coir comes into the picture. It’s not only a sustainable option but also an excellent growing medium for gardening. You get to use this naturally occurring byproduct of coconuts in many ways and forms, such as bricks, chips, compressed discs, and more.
In this article, you’ll get to know anything and everything about coco coir!
So, don’t worry if you’re a beginner. We’ve got your back, buddy!
What is Coco Coir?
Well, just as the name suggests, it’s the coir of the coconut. To be precise, coco coir is a fiber that you get from the dense, tough husk of coconuts.
If you have used potting soil before, you might have used coco coir too. Of course, unknowingly!
Have some potting mixes at home? Give it a close look. You’ll find some brown-colored, fibrous-looking particles in it. Are we right?
Now, do you know what those are? Well, those are coco coir particles.
So, this will not be the first time that you’ll be using coco coir, see? You’re already familiar with it.
Did you know that Asian people have been using coco coir for thousands of years? But it became popular in the gardening sector around the world only recently. People now know that this organic product is an environmentally sustainable growing medium.
Let’s tell you an interesting fact about coco coir.
It can prevent fungus and root rot.
So, if you have plants sensitive to overwatering, coco coir can be a fantastic solution for that!
How Should You Prepare Coco Coir?
Unlike other growing mediums, coco coir doesn’t come to you in a loose texture. Instead, it comes in the form of a brick. Yes, in solid form! So before you use it for your indoor plants or outdoor garden, you have to prepare it.
Now, it’s not that you don’t get to buy loose coco coir. But you have to pay a very high price for that. So, if you’re willing to pay more money and get the loose coco coir, that’s perfectly fine.
However, if you don’t want to go for the expensive one and prepare coco coir at home, move on to the next section.
Hydrate the Coco Coir Bricks
So, if you want to use the coco coir, you have to hydrate it first.
Get a large container and put the coco coir in them. Once hydrated, the bricks will expand up to seven times their original size.
Take some warm water and pour it on the bricks. You can buy coco bricks in different sizes, according to your needs. Are you confused about how much water to add? Just remember, 5-kilo bricks equal 4-5 gallons of water.
Wait for at least 15 minutes so that the water gets absorbed.
Now, all you need is to fluff it up until it comes to a soil-like consistency.
Add Nutrients to the Coco Coir
Are you just starting with gardening? Then you might make the same mistake as other budding gardeners – not adding nutrients to the coco coir!
If you don’t add essential nutrients to the coco coir at the preparation stage, your plants might not thrive well.
Now that coco coir is gaining popularity, many suppliers are offering pre-mixed coir with all the essential nutrients. One such product is Coco and Coir’s Coco Boost. It contains a mixture of potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen for the maximum growth of plants.
Your coco coir doesn’t have pre-added nutrients in them?
Then make sure to add them while preparing the coir. Not all plants need the same nutrients. So make sure to refer to specific growing instructions. This will help you choose the nutrients correctly.
Now that coco coir is gaining popularity, many suppliers are offering pre-mixed coir with all the essential nutrients.
Different Types of Coco Coir
With the growing popularity of coco coir, garden centers have started to stock up various coco products, including:
Coco Pith or Peat
When most people say coir, this is the form that they mean. This growing medium is soilless and spongy. You need to add this to your potting media or soil.
Well, it’ll increase the soil’s drainage, aeration, and moisture retention, much like perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss. You can use coco pith to support strong root growth too. Gardeners often use this to start seeds. You can use this in hydroponic too.
When dust and tiny fibers are compressed into hard bricks, it’s known as compressed bricks. This variety of coco coir needs to be soaked into the water before using it.
It’s perfect for use as a soil amendment or a soilless growing medium. You can avail of compressed discs in various shapes and sizes.
Once hydrated, they expand approximately seven times their actual size.
The end product will look like a crumbly, peat-like mixture. Use it in your garden or container.
Seed Starter Discs
Seed starter discs are actually coco peat that’s packed into discs. You can use it as a medium for seed starting.
Are you looking for something that can support the healthy growth of the roots?
Seed starter discs are the one. Also, this soilless medium works wonders in draining, retaining moisture, and providing air circulation.
Start seeds outdoors or indoors – wherever you want. When seedlings are ready, place them directly into the ground.
Unlike the texture of the coco peat, the planter liners have a fibrous and woven texture. They are somewhat coarse. You can get them in sheets.
The best part?
In order to fit containers of different sizes, the planter liners come in some cool shapes too! For example, wire planters and window boxes.
This variety of coco coir comes in the shape of cubed husks. They have an aesthetically pleasing appearance. Use them if you want to prevent weed growth and increase moisture retention in your garden.
Do you want to buy coco coir for tropical plants such as orchids?
Then get mulch chips. It can provide proper support to their roots. In addition, they provide ample air circulation and excellent drainage.
Are you growing your climbers and vines in containers?
Then you’re definitely going to need coco poles. They’re basically twine-wrapped fibers on a stick.
Your vines will need support, and these climbing poles will provide just that!
Place these in planters, and your vines will cling onto them. They’ll love the extra moisture that these poles provide.
Bonus Read: 16 Most Popular Types of Mint Plant
This variety of coco coir comes in the shape of flowerpots. The fibers are pressed and given that shape. For starting plants, these molded pots can be of great help.
Because they drain well, retain moisture, and offer great air circulation.
As they biodegrade, you can put them into the ground – directly.
Do you have ceramic pots?
Then you can make use of these coco coir molded pots as inserts. The ceramic and terracotta pots are porous. And these pots retain water really well. So, using the pots as inserts will be very helpful.
For What Can You Use Coco Coir?
How can you use coco coir in gardening? Well, you can use coco coir in many ways.
As a Component in Soilless Potting Mix
Do you prepare your potting mixes at home? Then coco coir can be an excellent addition to it. Including it in your soil mixes will offer not only proper drainage but also superb water retention.
As an Additive in Your Garden Soil
If you prefer outdoor gardening, try to add coco coir to the soil. It doesn’t matter what type of soil you have – as it works well with all kinds of soil. The organic coco coir has fantastic aerating and water-retaining capabilities.
Is the soil in your garden sandy? Then using coco coir will help in efficient water retention.
As an Alternative to Peat Moss
Are you an eco-friendly gardener always looking for sustainable options for gardening?
If your answer is, “yes,” get your hands on coco coir!
It’s a naturally occurring byproduct of coconut farming – a far more sustainable source than peat moss.
That’s not it.
Coco coir has more benefits compared to peat moss. You can manipulate coco coir with much less effort. This makes it easier to work with. It can combine well with nutrients too.
The Pros and Cons of Coco Coir
Let’s start on a good note!
- Provides a Healthy Environment and Retains Moisture
When it comes to water retention, coco coir is considered one of the most powerful growing media. When it’s hydrated, it can absorb up to ten times its weight. This means they will never let your plants get dehydrated. They work well on the roots too. So, get coco coir to promote the healthy development of roots.
- The transition from soil gardening is good.
If you grow plants in coco coir, it’ll feel like soil. Look wise, both the media is quite similar. So if you plan to have a hydroponic garden, it’ll look almost as if it’s a soil garden.
So, what’s the difference between the two?
While in a soil garden, you use only water, but in a coco coir garden, you use nutrient-enriched water.
If you use coco coir in your garden, the chances are that most garden pests will not settle there. Like it?
- Safe for the Environment
Unlike peat moss, you can reuse coconut coir. While peat moss is made from gradually declining bogs, you get coco coir from repurposed waste, which is the coconut husk.
On average, a mature coconut tree can produce approximately one hundred and fifty nuts a year.
People used to discard and burn the shaggy coir. However, modern technology has changed things. The coir is now made with minimal energy. Also, it has become lightweight.
- Less Complex Compared to Traditional Hydroponics.
Are you interested in hydroponics? Start with coco coir. Practice the basics. You neither have to build an entire hydroponic system nor take care of the maintenance that it needs.
- Varieties to choose from
If you go to buy coco coir, you’ll get many options to choose from.
Get coco pith if you want to keep your plant’s roots wet.
With coco fibers, you get excellent aeration and superior flow of oxygen into the roots.
Coco chips are a good choice for creating air pockets and retaining water at the same time.
- pH level
Coco coir has an almost neutral pH level – between five and seven – making it an excellent base for all kinds of plants.
These are the downsides of using coco coir:
As coco coir is inert, it doesn’t have any nutrients in it. It looks quite similar to soil, but it isn’t soil. So, while using it, you’ll have to control the pH and add hydroponic nutrients to it.
- Needs Hydration
When you buy coco coir online, you’ll get it in dry, compressed bricks state. This allows you to save up shipping costs. However, it’s quite a task as you have to hydrate it before using it in your garden.
- Needs Supplements
While using coco coir, your plants might get less magnesium and calcium. So you need to supplement with these two nutrients.
- Can be Expensive
As you need to hydrate the coco coir before using it, many of you may find it annoying. Garden suppliers are aware of this. They are now offering coco coir mixes that are pretty expensive.
Well, these cons are nothing that can’t be taken care of.
Also Read: 33 Great Closed Terrarium Plants to Grow
Where and How to Use Coco Coir?
You can avail coco coir in various forms and textures. Of course, each of them has its own purpose. Want to know where and how to use them?
Coco coir comes with tons of qualities that make it a great choice for hydroponics. Its water retention capability is good, and it decomposes slowly. In addition, it is antifungal, can transfer nutrients to the roots of plants, and has a neutral pH level.
And all these are required for healthy and happy indoor plants.
For using coco coir in your hydroponic system:
- Take some water and pour it on the coir. Wash it thoroughly to make sure that there is no salt left from the commercial processing. Continue washing to make the coir free from all the tannins.
- Now, to create your growing medium, mix equal amounts of coir and clay stones.
- You need to add nutrients to your plants once a month. Of course, it depends on what plant you’re growing.
While coir has loads of phosphorus and potassium, it lacks copper, chlorine, iron, calcium, nitrogen, manganese, and magnesium. Make sure to research well to decide which nutrients mix to go with. Add worm castings and microorganisms to enrich your growing medium.
Hanging Baskets and Planters
Coco coir fiber goes really well with window box planters and hanging baskets. You can’t grow plants directly in the coir fiber. It creates an attractive, breathable, and natural pot by lining the planter or basket. This setting is much lighter compared to ceramic options. The potting medium stays in place. The coir fiber retains water and gives it to the plants when they need it. Coco coir is porous. So, when it acts as a basket liner, it helps the plants to receive oxygen.
How can you use coir fiber in your hanging planters and baskets?
- Take coir fiber and line the planter with it. Now, add your growing medium to it. It should be a mix of 50% perlite and 50% rehydrated coir.
- Add your favorite plants, and make sure to keep their roots below into the soil.
- Water your planter regularly to help your plants grow. As coir fiber is porous, it’ll dry out faster compared to a traditional pot.
Flower Beds and Vegetable Gardens
Coco coir is great for flower beds and vegetable gardens. Want to go for an affordable option?
Purchase and prepare coco coir bricks.
To make a coir brick, follow these steps:
- Arrange for a big plastic tub and keep the brick in it. Add water to sit and wait for ten minutes. This will make the coir brick expand up to fifteen times its original size. Make sure that the tub is large enough for that.
- The ratio of the water and coir should be 6:1.
- Doing so will break the coir. It’ll feel like soil.
- If there is any chunk, break it will the help of a shovel. You can use your hands too.
- Now spade the coir into the soil. The depth should be one to two feet.
- If you have any leftover coir, store it properly.
Use coco coir fiber as a soil topper, or place it at the bottom of your pots. It’ll work great.
- Now, if you use a few inches of coir fiber at the bottom of your pot, you don’t have to water often. This is because coco fiber has excellent water retaining power, and it’ll not let the water drip out.
- If you use the coco coir as a soil topper, it’ll prevent evaporation. Just place it around your plant’s base.
Use soil discs when starting seeds. They are produced from coco coir pellets. They are about two inches and come as small compressed tablets. They sit flat and expand well when they come in contact with water. Coco coir discs have a biodegradable composition and leave space for root expansion. This makes your transplantation easy.
How can you use coco coir discs for your seedlings?
- Take a coco coir disc and place the seed at the center of the disc. Now take a shallow pan and set the disc.
- Add water slowly. This will make the disc swell as it’ll absorb the water quickly.
- You need to continue adding water as needed. And soon, you’ll see that the seed has sprouted and started to grow.
- Prepare the soil when you see that the seedlings are large enough for planting. Dig a hole where you can place the seedling with the swelled discs.
YES, coco coir is good for your plants!
Once you get your hands on some good quality coco coir, make sure to store them in a cool, dry, and sun-free spot. Happy, sustainable gardening!