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The trend of using coconut coir has never been more alive!
After all, the benefits that it offers are very hard to ignore. And during this day and age, you need to learn how to use it in hydroponics so that you may obtain the maximum benefits out of it.
In this article, we are going to take a close look at what coconut coir is, how it is derived, the tons of benefits that we can obtain from it. We’ll also highlight how it is used in hydroponics. To sum up, this article is going to serve as a beginner’s guide on the topic.
So, without wasting any further time, let us delve right into it.
- Coconut Coir
- What Is Coconut Coir?
- What Are The Types Of Coconut Coir?
- What Nutrients Should You Mix With Coco Coir?
- How Do You Test Coconut Coir For Hydroponic Setup?
- What Are The Top Three Brands Of Coco Coir Bricks?
- How To Rehydrate Coconut Coir Bricks?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Is Coconut Coir?
Let us first take a look at what coconut coir actually is.
Back in the day, when coconut was known for its mouth-watering taste, its husk was viewed as a waste product. However, people soon started to acknowledge its potential for various uses in making home products as well as in gardening.
Talking about coco coir, it is basically everything that lies in the middle of the shell and the outer covering of the coconut seed. The coir is made up of two types of fibers – brown and white fiber.
The brown fibers are stronger but less flexible as they come from ripe coconuts. On the other hand, white coir fibers come from pre-ripe coconuts and are a lot more flexible. But they are not that strong.
That said, coco coir is used for the production of a number of items, such as:
- Upholstery stuffing
What Are The Types Of Coconut Coir?
There are mainly five types of coconut coir; namely, coco coir fiber, chips, coco coir pith, coco coir blocks, and coco coir dust. They come in very handy for gardening purposes.
When these five elements are combined, they tend to be an excellent growing medium. Note that it is extremely crucial to get them in a proper balance to suit your purpose.
The structure and the chemical composition of the growing medium should also be taken into consideration. Each of these elements plays an important role.
Coco Coir Fiber
When you add coco fiber to your growing medium, it creates air pockets. Since the fiber is not absorbent, it helps the oxygen pass to the root of your plants. But there is a downside to it as well; since cellulose is the main component of these fibers, they tend to break down quite easily, causing the air pocket to collapse.
Coco chips are capable of creating air pockets by absorbing and holding water. They work just like clay pellets; however, they are prone to degradation as they are made up of natural materials. Furthermore, they have the characteristics of both coco fiber and coco peat, providing air and water holding properties.
Coco Peat (Pith)
Last but not least, we have coco peat. It is the spongy part of the coir that appears like loose tea leaves. Not only can it absorb good amounts of water, but it can also hold a sufficient volume of air.
Coco Coir Blocks/Bricks
Coco coir blocks are coco coir bricks – the complete form, but they are less processed. That said, they look very hard and dry, so you’ll need to drench them in water for rehydration before use. Ensure that you make use of a large container because it has a tendency to swell up.
Coco Coir Dust
People who are keen on growing exotic plants are familiar with coco coir dust; it is made up of coco coir fibers. They have a tiny surface area and are capable of retaining large volumes of water.
How To Make Coco Coir?
There is a lot of processing that goes behind the making of coco coir ready for hydroponic and gardening uses.
Firstly, you need to separate the coir from the coconuts. You can do this by simply drenching the husks in the water (freshwater or tidal water) so that it softens and loosens up. Just keep in mind that if you use tidal water, it will take up large amounts of salts, which you’ll need to flush out in the later stages.
In the second stage, you have to dry it for over a year. And after you go through the extensive drying process, you’ll have to organize the coir into bales. Then, you need to chop these bales and process them into various formats, ranging from chips to ground coconut coir.
As you can probably tell, the process of making coco coir is pretty extensive, and that is why we would suggest you to skip this part and buy them from the suppliers.
Coconut Coir In Hydroponic Gardening
Before shopping, you have to choose the right kind of coir for hydroponic gardening. In the shop, you will find products packed for ornamental, garden, and hydroponic use. You have to select the one specially made for hydroponic systems.
Coco coir made for this type of gardening does not have sodium or potassium in them; these are removed so that they are a totally nutrient-neutral growing medium. This also lets you take control of the choice of nutrients you want for your plants.
It is also crucial that you understand the different kinds of coconut fibers. As we have already mentioned earlier, there are two types of fibers – white fiber and brown fiber.
White fibers are very flexible but not strong as they are derived from unripe coconuts; on the other hand, brown fibers are derived from ripe coconuts. The fibers in them are extremely durable and strong but not at all flexible.
We would strongly recommend you use brown coir for hydroponic purposes as it is more processed. Not only is it better processed, but it also acts as a support medium and is less prone to getting affected by undesirable organisms in a hydroponic garden.
Also, keep in mind that the best hydroponic coir comes with very low salt content. However, you should not take any chance and always wash it with a highly nutritious solution that is low in EC before setting it up for use.
What Nutrients Should You Mix With Coco Coir?
As we have already mentioned before, coco coir is inert, which means it is void of all nutrients. For using coco coir in hydroponic gardening, you need to mix minerals, such as:
You will be required to adjust the level of these nutrients in your hydroponic system. That said, you may check out your local gardening store to find various kinds of nutrients blends that are premixed.
These nutrients are uniquely designed to be used with coco coir. They are rich in calcium and magnesium since coco coir is known to hold them quite effectively. However, ensure that you do not forget to add iron as well.
Pros Of Coco Coir
There are several pros/benefits of using coco coir. It is considered to be a good transition from soil gardening. Gardening in coco coir feels no different from gardening in the soil since both soil and coco coir look pretty similar.
Cons Of Coco Coir
Coco coir has its fair share of cons as well; take a look:
How Do You Test Coconut Coir For Hydroponic Setup?
Before we proceed, it is very important for you to understand that both the electrical conductivity (EC) and the pH of coco coir are very important factors. You can take the following steps to make your judgment.
- Add half your cup with coco coir taken from various parts of the rehydrated block. Put it into a bowl.
- Add six ounces of demineralized water. We strongly advise that you leave it to soak for a couple of hours.
- In the next step, you have to stir up the mixture and take the pH measurement.
- Then you would have to strain the coco coir and keep back the water.
- Last but not least, you have to measure the pH and EC of the water.
- The required pH level should be between 5.3 and 6.2.
- The required EC level should be between 1.0 and 1.3.
The spectacular water and air holding capacity make coconut coir a great growing medium. Another famous growing medium is rockwool, but it is nothing compared to coconut coir. The thing is rockwool has only 10% of air holding capacity whereas coco coir has almost doubled, that is a whopping 20%.
In addition to all the benefits mentioned above, there is one more benefit of coir that you should be aware of: its ability to absorb. It can absorb nine times its weight in water which makes it an ideal growing medium. Coconut coir ensures that the plant’s roots can take in oxygen and other important nutrients in the best possible manner.
Furthermore, coconut coir supports the growth of the plant’s roots while ensuring no significant fungal growth. It comes with several antifungal properties that protect plants from infections.
How To Feed And Water Coco Coir?
When it comes to feeding and watering, it varies distinctly in hydroponics. Older plants need more water, whereas younger plants need less water. A few growing mediums need water several times a day; on the other hand, some growing mediums need water and food every other day.
Talking about coco coir, you need to water and feed them at least once every day. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the container, the more often you should water and feed it. You have to ensure that you keep watering until you reach a runoff between 10% and 20%.
If you are using a pot, we suggest you lift it and check if it’s light or heavy? If it’s light, it means it is dry.
How To Select The Best Quality Coconut Coir?
In this part, you are going to learn how you can select the best quality coco coir. But before we begin, there are several factors that you need to keep in consideration, such as the process of harvesting and its preparation. We would strongly advise you to go with suppliers that use the best practices for producing coco coir.
As we have already mentioned, the coir is separated from the coconut and stored for a few years. And since it is stored for a few years, it becomes vulnerable to pathogens due to the coco coir’s natural pH.
You will find most manufacturers chemically sterilizing the choir to make it ready for use. However, sterilizing can prematurely break the fiber as well as the pith. Nonetheless, a good manufacturer will ensure that they:
- Create the right mix of pith(peat), chips, and fibers.
- Have a system solely dedicated to the growth of coconut coir.
- Pay attention to the packaging and store them in the correct manner to prevent adulteration.
- Wash and rinse the coir to remove the salt.
Do not worry; you do not have to do any of these by yourself. Just ask your local garden shop about the supplier and his practices. The best part about buying coco coir is that you can get them online as well as from your local gardening store.
What Is The Best Coco Coir For Your Garden?
We are pretty confident by now you have a good knowledge of coco coir. In this part, we are going to delve deep into knowing what brand of coco coir is best for your garden. We have personally tested this coco coir, and we assure you it won’t disappoint you for the most part.
We have decided to go with Urban worm coco coir as the best coco coir for your garden. Besides being a fine particulate, it soaks moisture pretty easily. It is perfect to be used as a growing medium for your hydroponic setup, and it is also a good substitute for bedding on your worm farm.
We would recommend you to mix this coco coir with your potting mixes and not with peat moss; doing so will ensure it achieves a pH-neutral state.
You can also keep Canna and Fox farm into consideration. Both these brands are quite popular. If you are looking for cheaper alternatives, we suggest you go with General Hydroponics by CocoTek Bale.
It is just around 5kg and consists of a good mix of coco fibers and coco pith. The best part about this product is you do not have to flush too much salt out of it, which makes it pretty convenient for users who are starting out new.
What Are The Top Three Brands Of Coco Coir Bricks?
As we have already mentioned before, coco coir comes in brick formats. However, choosing the best brand can be quite a handful since there are so many options available on the market.
Below we have mentioned some of the best brands that you can consider buying when it comes to coco coir bricks. You can purchase them from your local gardening store or online; it is totally up to you.
FibreDust Coco Coir Block
Coco coir bricks by FibreDust is one of the leading brands for coco coir bricks on the market. They ensure they have pre-washed the mixture to remove salt, and they promise to offer pH levels between 5.8 and 6.8. Nutrients flourish the most when the pH levels are between this range.
Plantonix Coco Coir Brick
This brand is owned by a family-led company based out of Southern Oregon. They are known for top-notch products in America. These coco bricks have extremely low electrical conductivity levels, which drastically lessens the risk of salt accumulation in your soil, hence promoting a healthier garden.
Mother Earth Coco Coir Plus Perlite Potting Soil
This brand of coco coir bricks promises to deliver 70% coco coir and 30% organic soil amendment. This product serves as a good substitute for potting soil. Not only does it increase the aeration but also the drainage.
Furthermore, the mixture of this product has a well-defined texture to it, making it look like traditional soil. Oh, and did we forget to mention that it comes with gloves and a 13-gallon bag?
Peat Moss vs. Coco Coir
You must have heard a lot about peat moss, and you are wondering how it differs from coco coir. For starters, peat moss has the ability to hold water better. It looks just like soil as coco coir. The main difference here is even though both of these growing mediums look the same, yet there are a few subtle differences. Both are good at retaining water, but coco coir is able to retain more moisture than the actual water itself.
Coco coir’s neutral pH level allows it to grow almost anything, whereas the pH level of peat moss is a bit acidic. Peat moss has a pH level between 3.5 and 4. Peat moss makes a good growing medium for most plants, but certain plants need a higher pH level for adequate growth.
Also, there is a significant difference when it comes to pests and diseases. Coco coir is popular for being resistant to pests; on the other hand, peat moss attracts snails and is prone to pollute plants with bacterial and fungal spores.
When it comes to environmental issues, you would want to go with coco coir as it is more sustainable than peat moss. As you are probably aware, on average, coconut trees can produce 150 coconuts every year, making a stable supply of raw materials needed to manufacture coco coir.
On the contrary, it takes nearly 25 years for a peat bog to renew itself for it to be reaped again. This is the main reason why peat moss is not as popular in this modern-day and age.
If we talk about price, it depends on which part of the world you are in. Peat moss is usually harvested in Canada, which makes it affordable than coco coir in America. Coco coir is mainly harvested in Asia, so it is cheaper there.
We hope now you know the basic differences between peat moss and coco coir.
Still Confused? Here Is What You Need To Know
We understand that selecting the proper coconut coir for hydroponic gardening can be really confusing at times. We would suggest you do your own research before beginning.
You can consider talking to your local nursery or other coco coir sellers to find out which products customers like the best. You must note down all the important details they give about the producer.
You can look up on the internet for the best coco coir brands; doing this gives you a fine idea about the process of production and the quality. Your first priority should be to choose a brand that sells clean and correctly washed coco coir. The coco coir of your chosen brand should also be well dried, correctly aged, and well packaged.
You must also have good knowledge about the regulations concerning the production of coco coir in your country. The more strict the regulation, the better shot you have of getting a better quality product.
How To Rehydrate Coconut Coir Bricks?
In this part, we are going to take a look at how you can rehydrate a coconut coir brick. When you buy coco coir, you often find them compressed in brick formats. These bricks are extremely hard, so you need to know how to rehydrate them so that you can use them for hydroponic use. Follow the steps mentioned below to successfully rehydrate a coconut coir brick.
Acquire A Large Container
First, you need to get yourself a large water container; since coco coir absorbs a lot of water, it is natural that your brick will grow in size. So, plan accordingly and get yourself a bucket that will be able to accommodate the coco coir brick.
Know The Exact Amount Of Water
Go through the instructions on the packaging to understand how much water is needed to rehydrate the brick. Make sure that you place the brick in the container first and then pour water into it.
You Need To Wait
You have to wait for at least an hour and then check how much more time it would require to rehydrate. We would recommend you to take the parts of the coir that have already rehydrated and then expose the parts which are still dry.
Your Coconut Brick Is Ready
This complete process is going to take a couple of hours, but once all the water is absorbed, your brick will be completely rehydrated. After that, you will be able to use it as a natural growing medium for your hydroponic setup. Ensure that it is totally rehydrated to get the best results while hydroponic gardening.
How To Make Baskets Out Of Coco Fiber?
Coco fiber baskets give a very aesthetic look to your balcony. Hanging plants in these baskets not only gives a very natural look but also keeps your plant safe and healthy. Follow the steps to make your own plant basket:
- Prepare your basket, and do not forget to buy potting soil.
- Moisten the soil if you are going to use an old version of potting mix.
- After you are done posting the soil, line your basket with the help of plastic.
- Fill the basket with soil.
- Add fertilizers on top of the soil.
- Place the plants in the basket.
- Water the plants to help them settle in the soil.
Do’s and Don’ts of coconut coir
Below are some of the do’s and don’ts that you should always keep in mind while dealing with coconut coir.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Below are some of the frequently asked questions about coconut coir. Our team of experts has made sure that all these questions are answered to the best of our knowledge.
What Kinds Of Plants Grow Best On Coco Coir?
Almost all plants can grow on coco coir. However, plants, such as orchids, bromeliads, ferns, and anthurium are known to grow best in coco coir.
What Are Coconut Coir Poles?
Coconut coir poles are nothing but support that helps plants like vines and roses grow. They are firmly wrapped by coco coir fiber. To use them, you need to place the pole in the middle of the container, and push it until it reaches the bottom.
Then you have to plant the seed at the base of the pole. Soon you will notice the plant finding its way to all sides of the pole. Coco coir poles come in very handy while nurturing weak plants as well.
How Can You Use Coconut Coir Chips?
Coconut coir chips can be used as a growing medium. As a matter of fact, it works with both indoor and outdoor plants. Coco coir chips are made by chiseling the fibrous part of the coconut shell. Compared to other wood chips, including bark, coconut coir chips are more even; thus, they tend to break lower. And the best part about coconut coir chips is that it is antifungal.
When it comes to indoor uses, it can be used as a growing medium for plants such as orchids. In the outdoors, however, it can be used as mulch. Nonetheless, coir chips are known for their powerful water-absorbing capability.
Can Coconut Coir Be Used As Pots?
Yes, coconut coir can be used as molded pots, and the best part about it is that it is biodegradable. Nowadays, the trend of purchasing plants with coconut coir pots is gaining popularity. Since coconut coir is useful for transplant, most of them are sized for seedlings.
You can grow your seedlings on coconut coir pots and continue to do so until it is ready for a transplant. You can grow them indoors in coconut coir pots and later take them outdoors once the weather is suitable for the plant’s growth. One of the key benefits of nurturing a plant in a coir pot is that they are able to hold moisture, which protects the expanding new roots.
Is Coconut Coir Suitable For Vegetables?
Yes, coconut coir is suitable for growing vegetables; it, in fact, improves the quality of the soil. Just remember to add the nutrients since coco coir tends to be inert.
Also, we would highly suggest you hydrate the coil before use and also ensure to remove all the salt that might have been used during its commercial processing.
Should I Use Coco Coir For Potted Plants?
Yes, you may use coco coir for potted plants since mixing coco coir with soil can make your potting soil a lot more effective. Furthermore, it helps to keep the optimum levels of nutrients and moisture at the roots.
You can also use growing mediums like peat moss, but coco coir is a lot more effective, is a renewable resource, and is comparably less expensive than peat moss. These are the reasons why we would prefer coco coir to peat moss.
Final Thoughts On Coco Coir
There you go, above was pretty much everything you needed to know about Coconut coir. It is undoubtedly one of the most popular and sought-after growing mediums for plants.
And like other growing mediums, coco fiber has its fair share of complexities that you need to take care of to make better use of it.
We hope you have found this article informative. If you have some questions or suggestions, you can drop them in the comment section down below.
With that, we wish to take your leave. Take care!