Photo by Patrick Perkins
If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you already know what coco coir is. And if you don’t, head on over to our beginner article on types of growing media to find out.
If you’re already using coco coir in your hydroponic setup, you also know it’s great for retaining moisture.
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
Coco coir isn’t just for hydroponic growing. You can use it with your potted plants too. And I’ve got the info on how you can do this.
Here’s the why and how of using coco coir for for potted plants.
Why should I use coco coir for potted plants?
When you grow with hydroponics, you have to replenish nutrients in the reservoir regularly because the nutrient solution is the primary way that your plants get everything they need to grow healthy. Coco coir helps to keep that nutrient solution at the root zone, where it needs to be.
For plants growing in soil, though, the soil can hold onto nutrients.
So why would you need something like coco coir?
As it turns out, using coco coir with soil can keep your potting soil effective longer and make it work better at keeping the right levels of moisture and nutrients at the roots.
It’s the same reason that you might use other soil additives, like peat moss.
Compared to peat moss, though, coconut coir has the benefits of being less expensive and being a more renewable resource, meaning you won’t need to worry about it running out in the near future.
(Coco coir comes from the coconut husk.)
Here’s another thing:
When you buy compressed coconut coir, you can get large amounts of this grow medium shipped to your house in a relatively small, light package.
How do I use coco coir in planter pots?
The best use of coco coir for potted plants is to mix it with potting soil.
What you don’t want to do is use coco coir by itself.
The reason for that is it has no nutrients in it, and if you’re using this grow medium outside of a hydroponic system, you’ll want to combine it with something that does contain nutrients. Potting soil does a good job of filling this role.
You’ll want to prepare the coir as you normally would for use in hydroponics. That means soaking it to loosen it up and remove any pre-existing salt buildup. Then, break it apart into pieces.
As an alternative to buying bricks of coir that need to be rehydrated, you can also use prepared coconut coir that comes in bags and looks like potting soil.
Once the coir is prepared, you can mix it about 50-50 with potting soil in your planter. Different indoor growers have experimented with various ratios. But what you don’t want is too much coir because it retains water and will not allow the planter pot to drain properly.
You can try using different ratios of coco coir to soil to see what works best for your particular plants.
You can also add a third grow medium in addition to the coir and soil to get the mix you’re looking for. For instance, you may want to add something that improves drainage, like sand or perlite.
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