Coconut Husk as a Growing Medium

Written by richard hoyt
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  • Introduction

    Coconut Husk as a Growing Medium

    The coconut's outer layer or husk consists of long fibres of lignin called coir and spongelike particles called pith. One-fourth to one-third of the dry mass of wood is composed of lignin. The separated coir, marketed as coco coir or coco peat, makes hydroponic growing medium, an amendment in potting mixes and soil used for container growing. The chipped husk replaces bark chips as a growing medium for orchids.

    Coconut husks make a useful growing medium. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

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    Coco Coir Properties

    Coco coir is an odourless, lightweight and 100 per cent renewable. It does not crack, shrink or produce surface crust. It is biodegradable, usually lasting 3 to 4 years. It contains 10 to 50 parts per million of phosphorous and 150 to 450 parts per million of potassium, both necessary plant nutrients. Coco coir is commonly replaces sphagnum peat moss, a nonrenewable soil amendment with similar properties that is stripped from the surface of peat bogs.

    Coconut coir is composed of long fibres in a coconut husk. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

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    Soil Amendment

    Coco coir holds from three to nine times its weight in water, depending on how was processed. It makes this water available to plant roots in time. Coco coir aids in draining water and making air available to the roots of plants growing in potting mixes and container soil. Coco coir accepts water easily after drying out, and it contains antifungal properties inhibiting pithium, a fungus that causes root rot.

    Coco choir is a common addition to potting mixes. (Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

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    Hydroponic Growing Medium

    Coco coir's ability to absorb and hold water makes it a suitable hydroponic growing medium. It is commonly marketed in blocks for hydroponic growing and replaces perlite and rockwool. Unprocessed coco coir contains large amounts of salt that could harm plants. Most quality coco choir hydroponic mats sold commercially are properly rinsed before marketing. Still, yours thoroughly before use.

    Mats of coco coir are marketed for hydroponic growing. (Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

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    Coconut husks are chopped into chips for bark chip replacement for growing orchids and some species of flowers. Coconut chips are clean and uniform. They retain moisture and do not rot. To grow orchids, use chips from 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide or larger chips from 3/4 to 2 inches wide. To help aerate and drain growing mixes, use chips from 1 to 2 inches wide.

    Chips of coconut husks are used to grow orchids (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

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