The Guide To Growing in Coco

Milosh Potikj | 28 juillet 2023 | 11 MIN READ

Unlock the secrets of exceptional growth with coco coir! This comprehensive guide breaks down the science and practice behind using this versatile medium. Learn to harness coco's potential, optimize your gardening techniques, and experience remarkable plant health and yield. No matter your experience level, dive into this journey to grow more efficiently and sustainably with coco coir!

What is Coco Coir?

Coco coir, also known as coconut coir, is a renewable resource derived from the fibers of coconut husks. It is increasingly used as an alternative to traditional potting soil and peat moss in gardening and horticulture. Coco coir is primarily sourced from countries like Sri Lanka and has gained popularity due to its sustainability and impressive water retention capabilities. It is considered an ideal grow medium for a wide range of plants. Unlike peat moss, which is harvested from peat bogs and can deplete natural resources, coconut coir can be produced without causing harm to the environment. The salt content in coco coir is minimal and can be effectively washed out prior to use. 

Benefits of Growing in Coco

Growing plants in coco coir offers numerous benefits that make it an ideal choice for both experienced growers and beginners alike.

Firstly, coco coir is a renewable resource. It is made from coconut fibers, which are derived from coconut trees mainly in Sri Lanka. This renewable aspect of coco coir makes it an environmentally friendly choice for growers who are conscious of sustainability.

One of the key qualities of coco coir is its excellent water retention capability. It can hold up to 10 times its weight in water, ensuring that your plants get a consistent supply of moisture even during dry periods. This quality also helps to prevent overwatering and root rot, making it a great option for plants that require well-draining soil.

Furthermore, coco coir has a lower salt content compared to other substrates like peat moss. This makes it a healthier alternative for plants, as high salt content can hinder nutrient uptake. Coco coir acts as a natural sponge, retaining and releasing nutrients to the plants as needed, allowing for optimal nutrient uptake and plant growth.

Common Questions About Growing in Coco

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When it comes to growing plants, many people have questions about the best growing medium to use. One option that has gained popularity in recent years is coco coir. But what exactly is coco coir, and why is it a good choice for growers?

Coco coir is made from the outer husk of coconuts. It is a renewable resource that is harvested primarily in Sri Lanka. One of the main benefits of using coco coir as a growing medium is its pH value. Coco coir has a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5, which is ideal for most plants. This means that coco provides a neutral pH environment for your plants, allowing for optimal nutrient uptake.

Another advantage of coco coir is its excellent water retention properties. Coco can hold up to 10 times its weight in water, providing a constant supply of moisture to the plants' root system. This helps to prevent overwatering and allows for better control of nutrient solution uptake.

Furthermore, coco coir has a natural resistance to pests and pathogens. Its high salt content and unique fiber structure deter unwanted pests, such as fungus gnats and root aphids. This makes coco a healthier choice for your plants, as it minimizes the risk of infestations.

Tools and Supplies Needed for Growing in Coco

Growing plants in coco coir, a renewable resource made from coconut fibers, has become a popular alternative to traditional soil cultivation. Coco coir is sourced from coconut trees, primarily from Sri Lanka, and it offers several advantages over other growing mediums. Unlike peat moss, coco has no salt content and offers excellent water retention capabilities. To successfully grow in coco, there are a few essential tools and supplies that every grower should have.

Containers and Pots

When it comes to growing plants in coco coir, choosing the right container is essential for the success of your crops. There are several different types of containers suitable for growing in coco, each with its own advantages.

Fabric pots are a popular choice among experienced growers. These pots allow for better oxygenation of the roots compared to traditional plastic pots. The fabric material allows for more air to reach the roots, preventing overwatering and ensuring healthy growth. Additionally, fabric pots promote better drainage, preventing water buildup and the risk of root rot.

Air pots are another option for growing in coco. These pots have a unique design with perforated walls that promote better airflow to the roots. The air pruning effect of air pots prevents root circling and encourages a more extensive root system, resulting in healthier and more robust plants.

Plastic pots and plastic grow bags are also commonly used for growing in coco. These containers are affordable and easy to find. Plastic pots and bags provide good water retention and stability for plants, making them suitable for beginners or those on a budget.

Soil Amendments and Nutrient Solutions

When it comes to growing in coco coir, utilizing the right soil amendments and nutrient solutions is crucial for successful plant growth. Coco is made from coconut fibers and is considered a renewable resource, making it an eco-friendly alternative to peat moss. Coco has excellent water retention abilities and allows for optimal nutrient uptake by plants.

To enhance the growth of your plants or any other plants grown in coco coir, it is important to add soil amendments and nutrient solutions. One commonly used soil amendment is the Cal-Mag supplement, which supplies calcium and magnesium - two essential nutrients for plant health and growth. Coco tends to have a high cation exchange rate, so adding Cal-Mag supplement can prevent nutrient deficiencies and promote healthy plant growth.

Other Supplies Needed

When it comes to growing in coco coir, there are a few other supplies that are essential to ensure successful plant growth. Alongside containers and soil amendments like coconut fibers and coco bricks, growers will also need a few additional tools and materials.

One important item is a pH testing kit. Coco coir has a tendency to absorb and retain water, which can affect the pH levels of the growing medium. Testing the pH regularly ensures that the nutrient solution is at the optimal level for nutrient uptake.

Another important supply is coco coir additives. These additives help regulate the salt content in coco and improve the water retention capabilities. They also enhance the cation exchange rate, allowing plants to absorb nutrients more efficiently.

Lastly, liquid fertilizers are necessary to provide the plants with the necessary nutrients for healthy growth. These fertilizers come in various formulations, each specifically designed to meet the nutrient requirements of plants at different stages of growth.

More: Measuring and Adjusting Ph for Gardening.

Preparing the Coco for Planting

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Before starting the planting process, it is crucial to properly prepare the coco coir to provide the best environment for your plants. Coco, derived from coconut fibers found in the husks of coconuts, is a renewable resource that has gained popularity as an alternative to peat moss. 

Testing the Salt Content of Your Coco Supply

Maintaining the optimal salt content in your coco coir is crucial for the health and growth of your plants. Excessive salt levels can lead to nutrient buildup and hinder nutrient uptake, resulting in stunted growth and unhealthy plants. To ensure your coco is free from excess salts, it is important to regularly test its salt content. Here is a simple guide on how to test the salt content of your coco supply:

  1. Obtain a Digital Electrical Conductivity (EC) Meter: An EC meter is a handy tool specifically designed to measure the salt content in a solution.
  2. Sample and Soak: Take a small sample of your coco coir and soak it in distilled water. Distilled water is preferred to eliminate any interference from dissolved minerals.
  3. Measure the EC: Once the coco coir has soaked for a sufficient time (around 30 minutes), use the EC meter to measure the electrical conductivity of the water. The meter will provide you with a reading in millisiemens per centimeter (mS/cm) or microsiemens per centimeter (µS/cm), indicating the salt content.
  4. Assess the Results: Compare the EC reading to the recommended salt content levels for coco coir. Generally, salt content levels below 0.3 mS/cm or 300 µS/cm are considered optimal for most plants.

Hydrating the Coconut Fibers Properly

To properly hydrate coconut fibers for growing in coco coir, follow these steps:

  • Start by obtaining dry coconut coir bricks or coco chips. These can be easily purchased from gardening suppliers.
  • Break the coir bricks into smaller pieces or use the coco chips as is.
  • Place the coconut fibers in a large container such as a plastic tub.
  • Add warm water to the container, ensuring that it completely covers the coconut fibers.
  • Allow the coconut fibers to soak in the water for at least 1 to 2 hours. This will rehydrate the fibers and soften them, making it easier to work with.
  • Once the coconut fibers have absorbed enough water and have expanded, drain off any excess water. Squeeze the fibers to remove as much moisture as possible.
  • Fluff and loosen the coconut fibers with your hands, making sure there are no clumps or dry spots.
  • The coconut fibers are now ready to be used as a growing medium in fabric pots or other containers.

Proper hydration of coconut fibers is crucial for ensuring the ideal moisture level in the coco. This is important because moisture and air are both necessary for optimal root growth and drainage in plants. The coconut fibers should be moist but not overly wet, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot and nutrient buildup.

Setting Up a Cation Exchange Rate Test

Understanding the nutrient availability in coco coir is essential for successful plant growth. One way to determine the nutrient availability in coco is by conducting a cation exchange rate test. This test allows you to measure the ability of the coco to retain and release nutrients to your plants. Here's how to set up a cation exchange rate test:

Materials needed:

  • Coco coir sample
  • Tap water
  • pH testing kit
  • Nutrient solution
  • Plant growing medium (such as perlite mix or potting soil)
  • Small plant or seedling


  1. Take a small sample of coco coir from your supply.
  2. Rinse the coco coir with tap water to remove any excess salt content. This is particularly important if the coco coir is sourced from regions with high salt content, such as Sri Lanka.
  3. Test the pH of the rinsed coco coir using a pH testing kit. The ideal pH range for nutrient uptake by plants is typically between 5.5 and 6.5.
  4. Prepare a nutrient solution with the desired nutrient content for your plants. The nutrient solution should contain essential nutrients for healthy plant growth.
  5. Fill a fabric pot or container with a plant growing medium, such as perlite mix or potting soil.
  6. Place the rinsed coco coir sample on top of the plant growing medium in the fabric pot.
  7. Plant a small plant or seedling in the fabric pot, ensuring that the roots come into contact with the coco coir.
  8. Water the plant with the prepared nutrient solution as needed, based on the watering requirements of the particular plant.
  9. Monitor the plant's growth and health over time. If the plant shows signs of nutrient deficiency, it may indicate that the coco coir has a low cation exchange rate and is not providing enough nutrients to the plant.

Creating a Nutrient Solution for Your Plants

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To create a nutrient solution for your plants, you will need to mix the appropriate ratio of base nutrients and supplements. Experienced growers recommend using a coco-specific nutrient line, such as Canna Coco or Advanced Nutrients, as they are designed to meet the specific needs of plants growing in coco coir. When mixing your nutrient solution, it's important to consider the cation exchange rate of coco, which affects the nutrient availability to the plants.

Choosing the Right Nutrients for your Plants.

One factor to consider is the nutrient solution you use for your plants. Coco coir has excellent water retention capabilities but can retain too much water if not properly managed. Therefore, it's crucial to choose a nutrient solution that is specifically formulated for coco to avoid nutrient buildup and ensure that your plants receive the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

In addition to pH testing, essential grow supplements like Cal-Mag can help address any deficiencies in calcium and magnesium that may occur in coco. These supplements provide the necessary nutrients for your plants to thrive in this unique growing medium.

Calculating the Right Amount of Nutrients for Your Plants

When growing in coco coir, it is crucial to provide the proper amount of nutrients to ensure healthy plant growth. Here are the steps to calculate the right amount of nutrients for your plants:

  1. Understand the nutrient requirements: Different plants have varying nutrient needs at each stage of growth. Research the specific requirements for the plants you are growing to ensure optimal nutrition.
  2. Test the pH of nutrient solutions: Coco coir can have a high cation exchange rate, which means it can hold onto nutrients and release them slowly over time. To ensure the nutrient availability, it is important to test the pH of your nutrient solution. Use a prescription provided on the nutrient pack to adjust the pH to the recommended range.
  3. Follow the nutrient pack instructions: Most nutrient packs come with a recommended feeding schedule and dosage instructions. Follow these guidelines carefully, as they have been formulated specifically for plants growing in coco coir.
  4. Furnish with additional fertilizers and grow amendments: Coco coir is a neutral medium and lacks essential nutrients. To enrich the nutrient availability, it is often necessary to provide additional fertilizers and grow amendments. These can include specific micronutrients, cal-mag supplements, or other additives.

Final Thoughts On Growing In Coco Coir

Growing in coco coir offers numerous benefits for both regular and hydroponic gardening. This versatile and sustainable growing medium is made from renewable resources, such as coconut fibers sourced from Sri Lanka. Unlike traditional peat moss, coco does not deplete precious peat bogs.

One of the key advantages of coco coir is its excellent water retention capabilities, allowing for optimum moisture levels without suffocating the plant roots. Additionally, coco has a high cation exchange rate, ensuring efficient nutrient uptake by the plants. This makes it an ideal medium for  plants that require a constant and reliable nutrient solution.

However, it is important to note that coco has a naturally high salt content. To prevent nutrient buildup and potential issues with nutrient uptake, it is crucial to treat coco like a hydroponic system. Regular monitoring of nutrient levels, as well as providing a source of calcium and magnesium through a Cal-mag supplement, is essential for cultivating healthy plants in coco.

Another consideration when using coco coir is the need for larger containers, as the coir bricks or loose coco expands significantly when hydrated. Fabric pots and fabric containers are particularly practical options for growing in coco, allowing for excellent drainage and aeration.


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