Coco Coir | Coconut Coir and its use in gardening

coco coir in gardening

This article follows my previous blogs on soil-less growing media and Peat moss. After Peat Moss, now it is time for its alternative, Coconut Coir or coco coir. Nowadays many of us are trying coconut coir as an alternative to peat moss due to several reasons. Most important of which is that coir is much more environment-friendly than peat moss. For an organic gardener, it is crucial to make use of the things which are renewable.

coco coir gardening

Origin of Coco Coir

The English word “coir” comes from the Tamil and Malayalam word “kayaru”, which mean cord, to be twisted. In a ccoconut coiroconut, the place between the hard inner shell and the outer coat is called the husk. It is the place from where we extract coirs. These fibers make up about a third of the coconut husk, The rest, called peat, pith or dust.
Coir fibers:
Coir Fiber can be of two types: White fiber and Brown fiber. When the fibers are extracted from the green coconuts it is called white fibers. One of the amazing features of white fibers is that they are resistant to saltwater. Due to this, industries such as manufacturing rope, mats, and fishing nets use white fibers a lot.
Brown fibers are extracted from the fully matured coconuts. It is used to prepare doormats, brushes, and mattress. These fibers are also a good solution to insulation and packaging. The process of taking out the husk from the fruit is known as De-husking.

Coir peat:

coco pithAfter the extraction of fibers, the remaining part is known as coconut Coir, (or coir) or Coco peat (cocopeat). It is the second part of the husk which covers the majority of the portion.Once considered as a waste product, this is now used as an alternative to peat moss in Gardening. People call this peat by various names. Coco coir, coco pith, coco peat, cocopeat, coir dust, coco soil or only coir are broadly the same thing. For simplicity, I will represent this by the single word “coir”.

Coir provides a suitable substrate for horticultural use. It is widely used as a soil-less potting media. As coir is high in sodium and potassium, it sometimes contains excess salt. So before using as a growth medium, this excess salt needs to be treated. To do this, it is first washed, and then screened and graded into various granularity and density.

Once considered as waste product, coco coir is now used as the best alternative to peat moss Click To Tweet

The Production of coco coir

India and Sri Lanka produces the bulk of the coir in the world. Other than that, Mexico, Indonesia, Vietnam etc have also started producing it nowadays.

Types of coco coir:

Coir can be of two types: sterilized and unsterilized. In sterilized coir peat, the fungi Trichoderma is not present due to sterilization. Trichoderma works in symbiosis with plant roots. It protects the plant from harmful pathogenic fungi such as pythium. That is why people nowadays are shifting from using sterilized to unsterilized coir.
Unlike peat moss, coconut coir is free of bacteria and fungal spores Click To Tweet

Coco Coir Uses:

Coconut coir can be used almost anywhere you can use peat moss. So you can use coir in bedding, gardens, containers, as seed-starters etc. just like peat.
Coir is resistant to bacterial and fungal growth. It provides a whole lot of new opportunities to the potting mix suppliers, seedling nurseries, Hydro-phonic growers and greenhouse growers.
In horticulture and gardening, coconut coir is a strongly recommended substitute for Peat moss. Unlike peat moss, it is free of bacteria and fungal spores. As a substitute, it helps the slowing down of peat extraction from environmentally sensitive swamps worldwide. Coir also has a very good water retention and suitable aeration facility. It helps in faster growth of roots in plants.

The composition of coco coir:

Coco Coir contains a good amount of cellulose and lignin. As mushrooms thrive on Cellulose, coir is used as a substrate to cultivate Mushrooms.
Coir generally has a pH level in the range of 6-6.5. which is very good pH level for most of the plants.

plants in coco coir
You can not use coir as a sole component in the medium to grow plants. Their nutrient content is very low. If you insist growing solely on coir, you need to add nutrients as per the need of the specific plants. Coir from countries like India and Sri Lanka also contains several macro and micro plant nutrients. This includes large quantities of potassium. This potassium interferes with the magnesium availability of the soil.
Generally, coir has a deficiency of Calcium and Magnesium. So adding a good amount of dolomite (which contains both of those elements) can be a very good idea.

Other Uses of coco coir:

Apart from agricultural usage, dry coir can be used as an oil absorbent especially on slippery floors. It has a very good absorbing ability. They are also used to absorb animal wastes.
Coir is hydrophilic in nature. Unlike peat moss, it can quickly re-absorb water even when completely dry. Coco peat is porous and cannot be over-watered easily. Coconut coir is not only a natural, organic product, but unlike peat moss a renewable one.

Readers Comments (40)

  1. Coir has really great qualities and usages for seed starters, bedding, gardens…. all agriculture needs. Great!!!!!!!……

  2. Thanx and you are absolutely right. 🙂

  3. Thanks a lot , you are absolutely right.

  4. But there is availablity issue atleast in north !!!!!

  5. I use cocopeat in my garden alongwith regular soil and sand and has a very good effect on plant growth. Of course, I add some nutrients regularly. — r.k.rajagopalan.

  6. I hope you can also feature self-irrigating planters in your next post.

  7. if i have a fresh coir, how do i prepare it to be suitable for vegetable gardening? do i need to have it sun-dried or can i mix it the regular plot soil immediately?

  8. Its nice that you mentioned about adding nutrients. Cocopeat doesn't contain any nutrients for the nutrition of a fully grown plant. So adding nutrients is a must. Try not to add any chemical though. Compost is a very good option.

  9. Things will change very shortly. Some companies have started the whole India distribution channel.

  10. Thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely give it a thought.

  11. Fresh coir contains high amount of electrolytes. This needs to be washed out and sun dried several times before using. It can be a tedious job.

  12. I use about 1 part in 3 coconut coir in my seedling germination mixes with compost, soil and a bit of charcoal. It's great stuff and I highly recommend it.

  13. Yes Coconut Coir and its use as a Soil-less Growth Media Plant..I agree with Your Article.

    Thanks & Regards Coco peat supplier

  14. We are taking commercial crop on cocopeat slab under strict IPM measures in Saudi Arabia. Quite promising results.

  15. We are commercial vegetable producer in Saudi Arabia. Growing cucumber, tomatoes on cocopeat slab very healthy without prblem – quality, bumper harvest with color, taste n flavor.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Does the ph of coconut coir reduce over a period of time (like 6 months)? I have been using soilless media having coconut coir, vermiculite, humic acids main ingredients. I didn't check ph initially but when yield was not good, I checked the ph and found it to be 4.5. Please let me know your opinion.

  18. One more query please, should the loose coco coir available in bags at gardening shop also be washed and sun dried before using as plant media?

  19. 4.5 is very acidic for plants to grow. Try adding some lime to increase the pH level.

  20. Loose cocopeat is generally the sterilized one. You don't need to wash and sundry it. But check the EC level before purchasing. Low EC is better for the plants.

  21. Dear Sir

    Kindly Explain the Process of Making Coco Peat ( Washed & Unwashed).

  22. Dear Sir

    Do Have any idea that how much Quantity of Fiber & Coco Peat can be Produced per Husk on an Average?

  23. Dear Sir

    What is shelf life of coco peat ?

  24. Mr. Azimi,
    Where can I find Coco peat in Saudi Arabia?

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Agrihypermart As per the Coir Board it is 600kg of peat and 150 kg of fibre for 1000 husk. I am starting a composite unit for cocopeat and fibre very soon i will let you know exactly

  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  28. Padmakar Shetty June 11, 2015 @ 9:47 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  29. Your composing is purely awe-inspiring that I desired to read such high quality material…The Tree Center

  30. Can I add Coco Peat to soil in the field for planting tomato? It's summer here and adding coco peth so that it can hold water. What is the standard process of adding to soil in the field? What's ratio?

    Thanks.

  31. Great sharing! It is truly essential that knowing the health benefits of coconut and coconut oil. Everyone should aware of its benefits and important functional advantages.
    http://vashiniexports.com/

  32. Mr. Akram,

    In my opinion you need to Import it from other countries like India , Sri Lanka etc…

  33. Can coir can be used as a material for concrete to have additional strength??

  34. Can anyone help me out with the process of making Coco peat,i am planning to start this as a business so what sort, of machines i need and where can i buy and someone pls advice me.Thanks

  35. Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 vfyes

  36. Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 1f5bw

  37. Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 a2ooj

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