Coco Peat vs Coco Coir – What is the difference and Why you Need it!
Trying to work out the difference between coco peat vs coco coir? Let us save you some time…
Coco coir and coco peat are the same thing. There is no difference, other than the fact that they are two names that are interchangeable, for the same growing medium.
Even though there is no difference, there is a lot to learn about the applications it has for gardening and cultivating plants from seeds. In fact, it is one of our favorite organic materials to work with – especially for indoor plants.
In this article, we are going to explore everything there is to know about coco peat and coco coir. Since we know that they are one of the same things, for the sake of simplicity, for the remainder of this article we’ll refer to it as coco coir.
Coco Coir / Coco Peat: Everything You Need to Know
Okay, now that we have established what we are going to call the substance, let’s get up close and personal with coco coir.
What Is Coconut Coir?
For those that are just learning about coconut coir (coco coir for short), we’ll provide a brief explanation of how it is created.
Coco coir is the part between the hardened outer shell of the coconut and the exterior of the inner coconut seed (the delicious and edible parts of the coconut). It is the brown fibrous parts of the coconut that feel like thick abrasive wires.
Coco coir is produced by the processing of the fibrous inner parts of a coconut, into a substance that can be fashioned into coco coir bricks, coco soil, or even coco coir garden mats. They are used for all kinds of purposes within gardening, including soil substitutes, hydroponics, and as a growing medium for seedlings.
Coco coir ticks all the right boxes, because it is an organic material that doesn’t require processing, environmentally friendly, plants love to use it as a growing medium, AND it is creating a use for a by-product of an existing process (coconut processing) that helps to avoid it being dumped in landfill.
What are the Benefits of Coco Coir?
Here are a few reasons why we believe coco coir should be used in all home gardens.
- 100% Organic – one of our favorite qualities of coco coir is the fact that it is completely organic. No additional processes, chemicals or additives are required to prepare it for use. If you have any coconut trees in your local area, you could literally cut open a coconut and begin using the coconut fibers in your garden straight away. How good is that?
- Perfect Drainage Qualities – another incredible benefit coco coir brings to soil is the drainage properties. Coco coir allows any excess of water to drain away through the drainage holes in pots. Which is why it is one of the best growing mediums to prevent root rot in your indoor plants.
- Keeps Soil Aerated – due to coco coir’s fibrous nature, it keeps the soil aerated, by allowing oxygen to pass through and reach a plants’ root system. This is extremely important, as not many people know that the roots of a plant require oxygen in order to survive.
- Water Retaining Properties – coco coir is an extremely dynamic growing medium. On the one hand, it allows any excess water to drain away. But on the other hand, it has super absorbent properties that have the ability to retain moisture. The water holding capacity stores readily available water for the roots of plants to drink at their leisure.
- Affordable Renewable Resource – since coco coir is essentially a by-product of another process (coconut processing), it means it is very affordable and economical for businesses to produce. This is great news for gardeners around the world. The fact that it also doesn’t require any further processing, apart from collection and shaping, also helps to keep prices affordable for the end customer.
- Naturally Anti-Fungal – A little known fact about coco coir is that it has antifungal properties. The coconut husk takes on a natural acidity from the high salt levels around the coastlines (where coconut trees naturally thrive). This helps to repress fungal spores and limits their growth. It is also great for acid-loving plants.
Is Coco Coir Better than Soil?
As much as we have raved about coco coir and all its benefits, we wouldn’t necessarily say coco coir is better than soil. There are still some plants and instances where we would choose soil over coco coir.
For instance, plants that don’t like constant moisture, like succulents, would do much better in a loamy soil (soil with a high sand content). Coco coir holds onto too much water for a succulent to thrive, and may even weaken the plant.
That being said, there are instances where we have completely soilless soil. As a matter of fact, we use a recipe of high-quality coco coir, perlite and vermiculite to create our perfect indoor plant soil.
Is Coco Coir Reusable?
Coco coir potting mixes are reusable to an extent. Since it is an organic material, it will break down over time. This means it becomes less spongy and more dense. Therefore, losing its aeration and water retention qualities.
Can You Mix Coco Coir With Potting Soil?
Absolutely you can mix coco coir with potting soil. It is the perfect complementary growing medium to include in your pots to increase water retention and aeration of your soil. Your plants will love it, and you’ll love it because it means less watering and maintenance.
Types of Coco Peat for Plants
Even though coco peat and coco coir are essentially the same material. They can come in different forms. There are:
- coco coir fibers,
- coco chips, and
- coco pith.
Each form will have the same benefits, however they will also have separate uses and applications.
Coconut fiber is great for mixing with soil or used as a substitute for peat moss and sphagnum peat moss.
While coco chips or coco pieces are bits of coco peat molded together, generally in the shape of squares. They are perfect for plants that have a lot of aerial roots, like orchids.
Finally, coco pith (sometimes referred to as coconut soil) is more similar to soil in appearance, and is created by rubbing or grinding the coco fiber together until it breaks apart into tiny pieces. Once it is mixed with other organic materials, like sand and compost, it creates a rich and high quality potting mix for your plants to enjoy.
By now you should know the answer to coco peat vs coco coir?
There is no difference! They are both the same wonderful growth medium that is derived from the husk of coconuts.
A coco coir mixture can benefit your garden and plants in so many ways. Like providing proper drainage for your pot plants, retaining moisture for your plants’ roots, and much more.
We always encourage our community to get their hands dirty, so go grab yourself from coco coir (or coco peat) and try making your own indoor potting mix. It really is a rewarding experience, and you know your plants are getting the very best they deserve!