The Truth About Coconut Coir – What You Need To Know

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The coconut husk was considered a waste product. This includes all materials from the coconut’s inner shell to the husk. However, people have now realized the benefits of these materials. Everything from the shell to the seed in the coconut makes up the coconut coir.

The fibers that make up the coconut coir can either be white or brown. White fibers are from a pre-ripe coconut and are less strong but more flexible. Mature and ripe coconuts have brown coir that is less flexible but much stronger. Many gardeners have started using coconut coir because:

  • It helps retain moisture, absorbing up to ten times its weight in water. This means that it keeps your plant roots hydrated every time.
Picture of coconut coir
  • The coconut fibers also provide adequate growing media for plant roots to work through that, helping promote healthy root development. Many gardeners are now turning to coir since it’s a greener alternative instead of peat moss for water retention. Besides, peat moss takes several years to form, and yields are lower. Since coconuts are available commercially in the food industry, we can easily access short coconut fibers.

Still, unlike peat moss, coir breaks down slowly, so you’ll enjoy the benefits of aeration and water retention for extended periods. In this guide, we’ll go into the details about coconut coir, why people use it, and more. Keep reading to learn more.

Types of Coconut Coir

When planning to use coconut coir fibers in your garden, it is important first to know the different types of processed coir available that you can use. Besides, utilizing various types of coconut coir provides more benefits since they provide a more powerful growing medium for plants. Below are the three basic coconut coir types.

Coco fibers

Picture of coconut fiber

You can notice coco fiber by its stingy bundle appearance. This type of coir helps improve aeration by adding air pockets in the medium, allowing oxygen to penetrate a plant’s root system. I like that this type is handy enough to reuse it. Besides, green gardening is all about recycling and reusing.

Also, coco fibers are very absorbent and of good quality since the growing media needs air pockets for proper aeration.

Coco Pith or Coco Peat

picture of container with coco peat and a plant

Coco pith looks somewhat similar to peat moss or finely grounded coconut. The only noticeable difference is the rich brown color. Due to the density of the coco pith, it has outstanding water retention capabilities.

As a result, we should avoid using plants prone to root rot and those sensitive to overwatering. This is because coco pith retains water exponentially well, and this quality can easily swamp plant roots.

Also, it’s too small such that if you were to use it as the only growing medium, you might end up drowning out all your plant’s roots. To use it as a growing media, you must age it properly because it can easily let out salts that can kill plants if you aren’t cautious enough.

Coco Chips

picture of coconut chips

Typically, coco chips are a natural type of expanded clay pellet. They consist of small chunks or coco coir that mix the best fiber properties and peat into one product. Coco chips are good water retainers and large enough to have air pockets that improve aeration. With coco chips, your plants will not dehydrate entirely.

If you are a gardener, using the right mixture of these three types of coconut coir is essential for the best results. Experienced growers, you know what’s suitable for your plants’ growth. You can mix these coir types or go for the premixed products.

Where Can You Use Coconut Coir?

Typically, coconut coir is available in different forms and textures, each serving a particular purpose for gardening. Below are several areas where you can use coconut coir.

Biodegradable Pots

Coconut coir has become popular in molded pots due to its biodegradable properties. A close look into several shops, and you will notice that most stores or local nurseries sell plants packaged in a coconut coir plant.

We have discovered that coir fibers are so beneficial for transplants that most coir-molded pots are already seedling-sized. As a result, you can easily transplant the disc-started seedlings onto the coconut coir pots without interfering with the growth of the plants.

Once the plants are ready for the outdoors when the weather warms up, you only need to place the coir pot and the plant on the flower bed or garden.

You don’t have to worry about the new root since the coconut coir pot protects them as they expand and hold moisture, making it perfect for plant growth.

Hanging Baskets and Planters

Coconut coir is the perfect blend for people who love hanging window box planters and baskets. The main advantage of using coir to hang planters is that plants will not grow directly on the fibers. Instead, the coir lines the planter or basket, creating an attractive, breathable, and naturally-looking pot that weighs much less than ceramic options we would otherwise use.

Better yet, the fibers hold the potting medium tightly, retain water, and release it slowly to the plants. Also, when used as a basket liner, the porous nature of the coconut coir enables the plants to receive enough oxygen.

Therefore, with the coir fiber, you can water your planters and leave the plants to grow. You need to watch out for the soil not to dry since coir fibers are more porous than traditional pots, so they might allow excess water to escape.

Flower Beds and Vegetable Gardens

Many people have learned the benefits that coir brings to their vegetable gardens and flower beds. Incorporating coconut coir in your gardens helps to improve the soil naturally. Besides, this is a less expensive option than going for the ready-to-use coir mix.

Hydroponic Systems

Due to the several qualities coconut coir offers, they are a good option for hydroponic systems. Notably, coconut coir is suitable for water retention, is antifungal, has a neutral pH, slow to decompose, and assists in transferring nutrients to plants’ root systems.

These qualities are a perfect recipe for healthy and happy indoor plants. Depending on the plants you choose to grow in the hydroponics, you can add some nutrients at least once a month.

Although coir has many phosphorus and potassium, it still lacks vital nutrients such as copper, chlorine, iron, magnesium, calcium, nitrogen, and manganese. Still, you can enrich the growing medium with additional worm castings and microorganisms.

Container Plants

We can use coconut coir fibers as a soil topper or at the bottom of the pots. The fibers provide many benefits to plants regardless of where you place them. When used at the top as a soil cover, the coir helps to prevent evaporation.

On the other hand, the coir fibers help maintain moist conditions and prevent water from dripping out. Therefore, when used on the bottom, you won’t have to worry about watering your plants as often. You only need to place a few inches of the coir fibers at the bottom of the planting pot, add potting mix or choose to cover the top by fitting the fiber around the plant’s base.

Climbing Plants

Coconut coir poles offer immense benefits to climbing plants such as roses and vines. These poles usually have coir fibers wrapped around them. If you want to use one, push the pole into the center of the container you intend to use for seed planting, then plant the seeds at the base of the coir pole. As the plant grows, it will wind its way around the pole.

The coconut coir avails more moisture and support while also giving the entire set-up an appealing look.

Pros and Cons of Using Coconut Coir

As we’ve seen, there are amazing benefits to using coconut coir. However, like any other growing media, there are some disadvantages that you need to be aware of before making your purchase.



Coconut coir allows for reuse, unlike other planting media, such as peat moss. Moreover, you harvest peat moss from a gradually declining bog, whereas coir results from a coconut husk, a repurposed waste. Yet, we can get multiple annual nuts from an average mature coconut palm.

While the clean coconuts find their way into stores, modern methods take care of the shaggy coir that was usually burned or discarded in the past, increasing carbon problems. These days coconut coir can be used as a soil substitute.

Improves soil conditions

Adding coconut coir to the soil while planting helps improve drainage, aeration, and water retention.

Has a neutral pH level

The pH level of coir is almost neutral, unlike highly acidic peat moss. The majority of flowers and vegetables thrive in neutral to slightly alkaline conditions.

Free of fungi and bacteria

One thing I like about coconut coir is that it’s free of diseases or pests. There will be no harm to your plants while using coir.

Environmentally safe

If you have previously used peat moss, you know it has environmental concerns. However, you can use coir more than once since it doesn’t break down as fast as peat moss.

Reasonably priced

You can purchase coconut coir at a relatively affordable price, especially in compressed forms. This also makes it possible to transport since it’s lightweight, although it can expand to nearly double its size after soaking it in water.

Different types

There are three types of coconut coir, so you can choose the one that best suits your plants or even mix them.


Requires rehydration

Many coconut coir products come dry or are in the form of compressed bricks. This means you have to rehydrate them before using them in your garden. Fortunately, this shouldn’t be a complicated process.

If plants require nutrients unavailable in coco coir, you may have to add supplements or use fertilizers.

FAQs on The Truth About Coconut Coir – What You Need To Know

Is coco coir suitable for all plants?
While it may not be suitable for all plants, it is a versatile and adaptable soil supplement that can be used in place of endangered peat. Just make sure you think about all of the potential drawbacks before using it.

Can I plant directly in the coco liner?
Because you may plant directly through the coir lining, you can construct a hanging orb of plants with a hanging basket. It won’t need a plastic liner because tiny slits are carved into the sides and bottom of the coir liner.

Can I mix coco coir with soil?
Coco coir is an excellent soil additive or alternative, made from the fibrous husks of coconuts and pulverized into fine fibers. When making a soil mix, keep an eye on it to ensure it contains all the nutrients your plant needs to thrive.

Does Cocopeat cause root rot?
The plant roots decay because of the water in the coco peat, which has so much oxygen. The importance of oxygen cannot be overstated—the plant roots decay because of the water in the coco peat, which has so much oxygen.

Conclusion on what is coconut coir

In a nutshell, coconut coir is a wonderful gardening medium. Its outstanding traits, such as improved water and moisture retention, sustainability, and eco-friendly nature, make it a versatile gardening addition among many other uses. Incorporate coconut coir in your garden today and get creative.

Suppose you are wondering if coconut coir is an alternative to peat moss. I wrote an article about coconut coir as a natural alternative to peat moss. You can read it here.

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