Coco Coir for Your Houseplant? Here’s Why You Should Give It A Try

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Coco Coir for Houseplant

When you open a coconut and notice the fiber and stringy interior, you are recognizing coco peat. What is coco peat and what purpose does it serve? Coco peat is frequently used as a standard liner in wire baskets. It has several forms and is widely available. It is generally considered a water-resistant material for baskets.

Despite being easily accessible and easy to use, potting soil has some drawbacks. Peat often causes environmental damage as it does not drain well and is frequently strip mined, a process which causes long-term environmental damage. Alternatively, you can plant in coco peat soil. That provides numerous advantages while recycling a product that was once useless. 

Coco peat is derived from the outer layers of the coconut husk. Natural antifungal properties of bamboo make it perfect for starting seeds, but it is also used in rugs, ropes, and brushes, and for stuffing. In addition to coco peat gardening, coroponic is also used as an amendment to soil, as a subsoil mix, and as a hydroponic.

Eco-friendly coco coir is extremely reusable. All you need to do is rinse and strain it, and it will be as good as new again. A comparison of coco peat and soil revealed that coco peat holds more moisture, releasing it slowly to the roots of the plants.

Types of Coco Coir

Coco coir peat

The coconut peat is the kind you’re most likely to encounter. It’s composed of ground-up coconut husks, which is similar to ground-up porosity or sphagnum peat moss. Compared to other varieties of coco peat, coco peat is denser in volume and therefore has fewer naturally occurring air pockets around the plant’s roots. Since coco peat is also very absorbent , the plant may end up drowning if it accumulates too much water (or choking if it eats too much oxygen and nitrogen).

Coco coir fibre

The coir fiber is exactly what it sounds like, a solid stringy bundle of husk. This is the type of coco coir you will see with a lot of hollow spaces between the fibres. The excellent aeration in coir is its most defining characteristic. However, as the material tends to degrade over time, its ability to retain air will diminish. Despite having a low density, coir fibres have a harder time holding on to water since they don’t have much overall mass.

Coco coir chips

A coco coir chip is the coarsest kind of coco coir because it is hewn in a rough pattern and has a larger surface area, meaning water can be retained much more quickly. Due to the fact that coir chips are not tightly compacted, there is a significant amount of space between them, which in turn results in a well aerated substrate.

It has distinct advantages for plants to be grown in a lighter, less dense, more aligned substance. Due to the available space, plants are able to grow larger, longer root systems, which allows them to absorb more water and nutrients and thrive.

Quality of Coco Coir

This product is a manufactured product: it undergoes many stages of manufacture and processing before being placed on the market. Like all manufactured products, the quality of what consumers receive will be determined by the quality and type of raw materials used.

Plant growth and quality of coco coir use will determine a plant’s ability to thrive. These are some characteristics to be aware of when choosing a substrate:

Coco coir salt content

Coconuts are washed in water either in a lake, stream or river to extract coco coir.

Salt concentrations in rivers may be high depending on whether the water is subject to tidal flow. This salt is transferred to coconut husks during the soaking process. The effect of excess salt on a plant’s health needs to be eliminated as it will adversely affect the plant’s health.

Coconuts that grow near a sea or ocean may also contain elevated amounts of salt.

Clean water can be used to rinse away the salt in the coir. Salt will separate from the fibers during the ageing process, which lasts between six months and a year.

Drying and compressing fibres

Although coco coir can be mechanically dried, the harshness of this method can cause the fibres to be damaged. In ideal circumstances, natural sunlight should be used to dry the fibres.

The final product will not be as ‘clean’ as you would like since it contains damaged fibres and coir dust, and compressed coir will contain some damaged fibres and coir dust.

The coir from discarded coconuts can adversely affect plant growth. Unless sieved first, the dust and other undesirable materials will become a part of the mixture, limiting air and water flow to the roots.

Unwanted moisture absorption and fibre contamination

A raw coco coir container stored in an incorrect way can absorb moisture, causing it to rot. Wet coir that is kept in a long-term storage facility will not lose moisture during long-term storage. In this case, it may be likely to attract unwanted contaminants and pathogens, such as mould or mildew.

The coir is also likely to be infested if it is stored for too long. The fibres would become damaged if insects colonized it.

To prevent contamination or infestation with coco coir, a chemical treatment can be applied. However, this can have an adverse effect on the fibers. Even though the chemicals themselves reduce the risk of insect or fungal damage, they can still degrade the cellulose in the fibers.

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Healthy Coco Coir Substrate

Coco coir can be used as a natural growing substance, with plenty of nutrients and a pH level near neutral. You can put anything into it, so it’s a blank slate for most plants. However, some will thrive only if you alter the balance a tiny bit.

The result is that coco coir used by many gardeners is not used alone; the substrate will often be a mixture of coco coir and regular soil or perlite.

Mixing coir with a different substrate reduces the amount of coir used each time and allows the plant to grow in a more nutrient-rich environment.

Depending on the pH balance of the substrate, mixing could result in its becoming more acidic or alkaline.

Also, depending on the levels of nutrients and coco coir added to the mixture, the substrate’s salt content may vary. It is advisable to flush the mixture with distilled water to eliminate excess salt, but this will cost you valuable nutrients.

If something other than a “blank slate” would be desired, reusing coconut coir from another project can serve the plant in a positive way. Coconut coir will help create thriving conditions for beneficial microorganisms, like the trichoderma fungus, while also warding off weeds, bacteria and pests. Nevertheless, if you do not want to lose these components it is recommended not to use any anti-pathogen treatments.

Tips on Coco Peat Gardening

If you plan to use coir bricks, place a few in a bucket of warm water. You can then break them up individually with your hands or let them soak in water for two hours. Hence, it will likely be a good idea to mix a time release fertilizer with the coco peat alone, given that the coir has very few nutrients to disperse.

A kilogram of pure potash contains a significant amount of potassium. It also contains copper, iron, zinc and manganese. As an aerator or water retainer, coco peat is recommended as a 40% of the medium if you use soil and coco peat as an aerator. Coco peat should always be moistened well, but you should check it often to make sure that the plants need water as well.

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