Many hydroponic and soil growers prefer coco coir for a variety of reasons, but you have to keep track of important details to maintain your grow. Details such as how the medium is made, its general properties, and what coco coir nutrients are needed to keep your crop healthy. Managing nutrients is particularly important when working with coir.
Here are all the facts you need to know about this grow medium, plus how Advanced Nutrients makes it easy to manage pH and nutrient balance for your coco coir-grown plants.In this article, we’ll cover:
- What is coco coir and how is it produced?
- The basic types of coco coir
- The advantages and disadvantages for growing in this medium
- What coco coir nutrients are necessary for hearty growth
What Is Coco Coir And How Is It Made?
Coco coir is a byproduct of coconut fiber. It was first used in gardening in the West in the 19th century, but fell out of favor because the low-quality coco available at the time degraded when used for short-term growing. Toward the end of the 20th century, it was rediscovered as an organic, environmentally sustainable substrate when new production methods made it possible to create hardier product.
Coco coir is manufactured using fiber that’s torn from coconut shells. The tiny grains of coir are extracted from the coconut shell and pulverized into a packable growing substrate. First, the coconuts go through the retting process, a curing method that naturally decomposes the husk’s pulp. Traditionally, coconut husks were immersed in water for six months or longer to decompose. Today, the retting process can be completed in a little over a week using modern mechanical techniques.
Next, the coconut fiber is removed from the shells by steel combs, in a process known as defibering.
Once the fiber, or coir, is gathered from the husk, it’s then dried, pressed into bricks, discs, coir pots. or bagged as a loose mulch. In this dried, processed state, the coir is ready to sell and use.
Basic Types Of Coco Coir
There are three basic types of processed coco coir: pith, fiber or chips. Using a mixture of the different types has its benefits.
Coco pith, or peat, looks similar to peat moss but is a rich, brown color. The density of this product means it retains water extremely well — so for this reason, you might not want to use just coco peat, because it could swamp the roots of your plants.
Coco fibers are stringy bundles that allow oxygen to easily penetrate a plant’s root system. By itself, the fiber is not very absorbent and will break down over time, which decreases how much air gets to the roots of your plants. However, it is hardy enough for reuse.
Coco chips are small chunks of coir that combine the best properties of the peat and fiber. Coco chips retain water well, but also allow for air pockets, too.
If you’re an experienced grower, you can prepare your own mixtures from these different types of coco coir, but companies provide premixed products to eliminate all the hassle of doing it yourself. Dried bricks are common — all you have to do is add water — but most coco in brick form tends to be of a lower unprocessed quality.
The Benefits Of Using Coconut Coir
Let’s take a moment to cover the pros of this grow medium.
Quick harvests and big yields: When used for drain-to-waste growing, coco coir gives excellent results. With the right coco coir nutrients in your water bath, your plants spend less time searching for food and more time growing. Learn more about using the right coco coir nutrients here.
Plenty of room for the root system: Coco coir offers a rare combination of excellent water retention, reliable drainage and ideal aeration. It gives the roots plenty of room, allowing for optimum air exposure.
pH-neutral value: Coco coir has a neutral pH range of 5.2–6.8, but you’ll still need nutrient support because this range will fluctuate over time. Learn why maintaining a balanced coco coir pH is so important here.
Minimizes harmful pathogens and reduces the risk of pests: This medium boasts antifungal properties, which keeps the roots happy. It can repel some pests, meaning your grow is easier to maintain. (If you’ve experienced plant pests or diseases in the past, here are some plant protection tips to help up your game.)
Environmentally conscious product: On average, a coconut tree produces 150 coconuts annually. Coco coir uses parts of the fruit that used to go to waste.
Reusable medium: When properly treated, coco coir can be reused. It’s durable, but you need to make sure you prep it correctly for the next growth cycle to guarantee a hearty crop.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Using Coco Coir?
Any grow medium has its limitations, and you have to understand the traits of coco coir to ensure you develop the best crop possible.
Possible high salt content: Make sure you research how the coco medium you choose is produced. If the husks were soaked in salt water, confirm it was rinsed with fresh water by the manufacturer, or learn how to properly do it yourself.
Chemical treatment: At the end of the drying process, coir bales might be treated with chemical agents to ensure pathogens didn’t bloom inside. Learning how it was treated may help you manage your crop, since the chemical residue could affect plant growth. Read the product label or refer to the manufacturer’s website to learn more.
Can lock out calcium, magnesium and iron: Because of its high cation exchange rate, coco coir stores and releases nutrients as needed, but it tends to hold calcium, magnesium and iron. This means you’ll need use specific coco coir nutrients to boost Ca, Mg and Fe levels for healthy crops.
Coco Coir Features That May Be A Pro Or A Con
Coco must be fed daily. In order to overcome the cation exchange capacity of the coco, it is still important to use a coco-specific nutrient, but you also want to feed quicker than the coco can negatively react with the nutrients. Coco is extremely difficult to overwater, holding on to oxygen even when drenched, so some hand-watering soil growers may find coco requires more work. However, commercial growers often love this feature because they can connect automated drip lines to the plants.
Use Advanced Nutrients For Coco Coir Grow To Get The Best Results
Because of the complexities of the coco coir medium, you have to use reliable nutrients to protect your crops. Thankfully, the 25 Ph.D.’s at our lab have discovered the missing link to unlock coco coir’s grow potential.
Most nutrients on the market deliver extra Ca and Mg for coco coir growing. But our researchers have found that the missing piece of the coco puzzle is iron. Not only do your plants need extra Ca and Mg when using coir, but they also need extra iron, because the coir also chemically binds to iron. If you’ve used standard coco fertilizers in the past, your plants probably struggled and produced a disappointing yield.
Whether you need help with your bloom or grow cycle, Advanced Nutrients has a coco formula for you. Base nutrient blends like pH Perfect Sensi Coco Grow A & B and pH Perfect Sensi Coco Bloom A & B are specially designed to enhance growth when using coco coir. Our pH Perfect ingredients combine to make an all-in-one balanced solution, so you can throw away your pH pens and meters, because our scientific formula manages all the details for you.
Take a moment to browse our coco coir nutrients to make your next grow easier and more productive. To boost your harvest, Big Bud® Coco is the missing link you need to build flower mass, size and potency. Plus, most Advanced Nutrients products are coco coir safe. Just look for the coco coir safe symbol on the bottle, or check the ingredients label for more details.
If you need more help with your coco coir grow, use our Advanced Nutrients Calculator or the BudLabs app. These tools make the science of growing easier, resulting in better yields and premium products. Finally, take a minute to learn the secrets of a proper feeding cycle when using a coco coir nutrients schedule.
Unleash The Power Of Coco Coir Grow Medium
Once you understand these insider tips on how to work with coco coir, your crops will burst with green, sticky flowers, especially when using Advanced Nutrient products. Make sure to click on the links above to learn more about our products and check back soon for our next article on advancednutrients.com, which will cover the in and outs of reusing coco coir.
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