Article: The best potting medium?: Using Coir

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Image The best potting medium?
By Lance Gardner on September 21, 2010

Over the years, I have used a variety of potting mixes with varying success. I tried a new item, wondering if it would actually work, and have been very pleased with the results. So now I recommend using coir, a coconut based product that uses the leftovers, instead of harvesting peat bogs. Here are the benefits from my experience.

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AlohaHoya
Sep 21, 2010 11:24 PM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices.
E. Hawaii is a big growing area...and I know quite a few growers who use it. I know the Vireya growers love it!!! Orchid growers do NOT like it and I had bad luck with it growing hoyas. I found that even buying the 'rinsed' kind (the coconuts are generally harvested very close to the beach ) the coir still retained a lot of salt from the fertilizers. I almost lost my entire stock of plants just from the Coir.

There could be an issue about using Coir with epiphytic plants (which orchids and hoyas) generally are. Also, I find that what one grower loves in, say, Texas doesn't work in Canada!!!

I use shaved redwood (BIG RED) equal parts with #3 Perlite for all of my tropicals... Big Red costs under 8$ for 3 cubic feet!!! I would not recommend it to any other climate than a tropical one, tho'...dont know how it works in a drier environment...
Leap. The net will appear.
ImageLance
Sep 22, 2010 8:48 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Very interesting, and thanks for sharing your experiences. How do fertilizers get into the coir fibers? Epiphytic orchids I think generally need very large and coarse material to grow on, so any potting medium may not work well. Coir is lighter than most, though, so it might work for more terrestrial orchids.
The only problem I have had is fungus gnats, and I now boil those!
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
AlohaHoya
Sep 22, 2010 11:25 AM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices.
Coir originates from the Husk of the nut. The trees live at or near the ocean and are a by-product of the Coconut Industry (milk, meat/copra) and often they are saturated with salt. Growers here rinse and rinse the coir before using it. Coir harbors the salt in the fertilizers...it attract it.

Coir also comes in differently sized chunks, not just the very fine.

You boil the gnats? The coir?
Leap. The net will appear.
CarolineScott
Sep 28, 2010 6:02 AM CST
I picked coir up by mistake one year. It was terrible stuff.
I buried it and nothing would grow there so I put the path over it.

It is not as environmentally friendly as we are lead to believe!
It is shipped over a long distance to Canada by diesel burning, smoke spewing, ships.

I am going back to peat which yes, it is being depleted in some parts of the world,
but there is still plenty in Alberta peat bogs. It is trucked over a much shorter distance for my garden.
ImageLance
Sep 28, 2010 7:36 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Sorry to hear you had such a bad time with coir. I have used it successfully for many years. Did you rehydrate the block before you used it, and mixed it in well with other nutrients? It has limited nutritional value, just like peat and a lot of other humus products.
As for the environmental aspect, I am not sure if calculations have been done on local peat vs. a large ship load of coir. I am sure the harvesters and other equipment contribute their own share of pollutants - it just depends on which one contributes more for a given amount of material. At least the coir is not from what used to be a viable ecosystem, which like forests and many other products, need plenty of time to replenish themselves and are being harvested at an unsustainable rate.
Carol - I use boiling water to rehydrate the blocks to eliminate any pathogens or insects that may reside in the coir. Peat, coir, and just about any potting medium has potential especially for fungus gnats, which can eat the roots of developing young plants. Coir is still my favorite to use. Since houseplants need periodic rinsing to eliminate built up minerals, I have not had problems with salts. I try to water enough so the water comes out the bottom, especially during the summer when everything is outside.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
ImageFrancescaB
Sep 29, 2010 2:34 PM CST
Name: FrancescaB Bianco-Kishfy
USA NEW JERSEY
Flowers....GODS way of smiling to u
I am new to cubits....I may have a solution for all of you.....I found a product called "Angel Moss" this is an environmental safe,renewable & sustainable product, harvested in the waters of New Zealand. It has a natural antibiotic called Sphagnol which nullifies the bacteria that cause decay to plant roots.It is sold worldwide to growers,orchid growers,nurseries and gardeners! I love it! It comes in bulk form, preshaped baskets liners and sheets. It cuts your watering time in half!! There are also Angel Moss Marbles that you plug into potting soil around plants....I started using this medium in my plants and the liners for baskets and WOW!! Is all I can say...Containers and hanging baskets that I made in April are absolutely beautiful!! I will say though I used a very light, organic potting soil....from Proven Winners and I think that has been a great plus,plus!! Monrovia also carries a great potting soil...I am done with Miracle Grow.....If anyone would like more info on Angel Moss you may contact me....I loved it so much I asked for a job selling it.....they are new to USA....they have a warehouse in Ohio. I am their NJ Sales Rep. This product is just a great addition to your potting soil as well as your garden!!! You may check out web at http://www.discoveriesingardening.com
FrancescaB
AlohaHoya
Sep 29, 2010 8:18 PM CST
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo)
It's all about choices.
Sounds interesting. We may get some here in Hawaii by 2020!!!
Leap. The net will appear.
ImageLance
Sep 30, 2010 6:55 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Thanks for sharing the information, it sounds like some good stuff. If you want to write an article about it, similar to what I did with the coir, let me know, and I can get you started. It is always good to hear from personal experience.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
ImageMistirose
Aug 22, 2011 10:13 AM CST
Name: Misti
Fate, TX
my 2 cents...I love coco coir, its the only thing I use on all my house plants now. Keeps the gnats out since the top inch of it stays dry. you have to be good about feeding your plants though since there is no food in it. All my plants seem very happy in it. Lovey dubby
ImageLance
Aug 22, 2011 12:12 PM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Thanks for sharing, I do find it works better than many other potting mediums. I am starting worm farming now so I can have a ready supply of natural fertilizer, and a good way to recycle some of those kitchen scraps. So far, it is working well. I think adding in the worm dirt with the coir will make a wonderful combination.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
ImageMistirose
Aug 22, 2011 12:23 PM CST
Name: Misti
Fate, TX
yea miracle grow was just too much of a gnat fest for me. Thumbs down so experimented and the coir was the best one so far.

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