Coconut coir has become a popular growing medium in traditional gardens as well as hydroponics systems due to its water-retaining and aerating properties. Made from durable coconut husk fibers, it serves as a biodegradable and all-natural soil amendment that encourages healthy plant growth.
Coco Coir’s Hydrating Properties
Coconut coir has exceptional water retention as well as drainage abilities â€” some forms of coir can hold up to nine times their weight in water. Its natural air-to-water ratio helps nourish plants’ root systems without oversaturating them or putting them at risk of root rot. If you add hydrating coco coir to sandy or clay soil, it will break up hard earth and help that area retain water. It’s also easier to keep hydrated than other soil amendments such as peat moss.
Common Forms of Coir
Coco coir comes in several forms, including pith, fiber, and chips. Pith, or peat, is a woodier form of coir that resembles tea leaves. It must be aged at least four months. While pith holds more water than other forms, it doesn’t provide as much aeration. Coir fiber has better aeration but holds less moisture and requires more frequent watering than pith. It also breaks down faster. Chips hold even less water but still have excellent air- and water-retaining properties.
During production in India and Sri Lanka, manufacturers typically screen and wash coir before tightly compressing the material into blocks, bricks, or discs. These dehydrated bricks are packaged as such for storing and shipping purposes. You must rehydrate this form of coir before using it in your garden or planters.
How to Rehydrate Coco Coir
Hydrating coco coir that’s arrived in compressed form is relatively easy. First, place the brick in a tub, garbage bin, or other container large enough to accommodate it and several gallons of water. Slowly add the water to the container according to the amount indicated on the package’s label. As the coir absorbs the water, use your hands or a garden spade to fluff it. Make sure you don’t miss any dry spots in the brick’s middle layers. It should take about an hour for the coir to completely expand up to seven times its volume.
As a general rule of thumb, small 250 gram or half-pound bricks will fill a half gallon tub. A medium-sized 650 gram/1.5-pound brick will expand to about 2.5 gallons. And a 5 kilogram/11-pound block will swell to 16 to 20 gallons.
After hydrating coco coir, if you notice there’s still water pooling in the container, you’ve likely overwatered it. Simply place the coir in a container with holes in the bottom and strain the excess liquid. Once the coir has soaked up all the water and has acquired a soil-like texture, you can apply it immediately to your soil or pots.
Coconut coir is highly valued by recreational as well as professional growers for its water-retaining properties, among other benefits. Hydrating coco coir that comes in compressed form is simple, and you can add the expanded product to your soil immediately.