Coconut fiber is one of three key coconut coir products. The fiber is the straw-like part of the coconut husk. Coconut peat or coconut pith is a finely ground product that looks a little peat moss. Finally, there are coconut chips, which look like wood chips and absorb moisture like clay pellets. Manufacturers sell coconut fiber in its natural state or woven into mats for lining window baskets and wire hanging planters. Like all coconut coir products, coconut fiber has a relatively neutral pH level, so it’s suitable for growing a wide variety of different plants.
Coconut fiber adds air pockets to your growing medium. Those air pockets make sure oxygen can reach the plant’s roots and enhance drainage. Coconut fiber isn’t as absorbent as other coconut coir products, but it can still hold a decent amount of water. It gradually releases this water, so the plant’s roots stay hydrated without soaking and becoming prone to root rot and fungal diseases. It also contains a small amount of potassium and phosphorous, which both help plants grow.
Using Coconut Fiber and Potting Soil in a Pot
People typically use a combination of coconut fiber and potting soil or a soilless alternative when they’re coco gardening with pots. Coconut fiber has trace minerals, but it’s not as rich in nutrients as natural soils. However, coconut fiber creates air pockets in the soil, which provide excellent drainage and space for roots to grow. Using coconut fiber and soil together gives growers the best of both worlds. Soilless alternatives can take the place of potting soils when they’re enhanced with nutrient mixes.
Before using your coconut fiber for plants, soak it in some clean water for around 30 minutes. This will remove any salt in the fiber that could damage your plant’s roots. Quality coconut fiber brands will pre-soak their fibers before selling them. However, re-soaking your fiber protects you in case the manufacturer skipped this step.
Add an inch of soil to your pot, then place your plant on top. Add a layer of coconut fiber around the plant’s roots. The layer should cover the roots to make sure there’s plenty of airflow near them. The amount of coconut fiber you’ll need will depend on the size of your plant’s roots and your pot.
Add another layer of soil, followed by another layer of coconut fiber, followed by another layer ofÂ soil, until your plant is adequately covered. Press down each layer of soil to help it filter through the coconut fiber. The soil will enhance the nutrient content of your coco fiber layers and aid moisture.
If you’re keeping your plant indoors, finish on a coconut fiber layer. This layer will act as mulch, insulating your plant and preventing water evaporation. Finish on a soil layer if you’re keeping your plant outdoors, as squirrels and birds like stealing coconut fiber for their nests.
If you want to plant directly into the ground or a garden, use the same layering technique after soaking your coconut fiber.
Using Coconut Fiber Mats in Hanging Baskets
Coconut fiber mats are a great option for hanging baskets, as they improve drainage and airflow. Many coconut fiber liners also have antifungal properties to keep your plants healthy.
Many coconut fiber mats are precut to line the most popular sizes of hanging baskets. However, you can also find coconut fiber mats in large sheets. If you need to cut your coconut mat for plants, make sure it’s large enough to line your hanging basket with roughly 1 inch of overhang.
Soak your coconut mat for around 30 minutes. This will remove any excess salts in the material and soften the mat so it molds to your hanging basket better. Take your damp mat and press it down into your basket to line the wire. If it doesn’t mold to your basket’s shape easily, soak it for a little longer to make it more malleable.
Take a standard plastic hanging basket liner and pierce it with a few drainage holes, then lay it over the top of your coconut mat. Your basket liner will minimize water loss so your plant’s roots stay moist for longer. You can leave out this liner if you prefer, but you’ll need to water your plant more frequently if you do.
Half-fill your hanging basket with potting soil. Choose a potting soil that is relatively lightweight so your basket doesn’t become too heavy. Place your plants in the basket, then top it up with potting soil, making sure to cover your plant’s roots.
Adding perlite or water-absorbing crystals to your potting mix aids water retention. This is a great idea if you live in a very windy or hot environment,Â where plants are prone to drying out.
Trim the extra coconut fiber liner extending past the top of your hanging basket. When you finish, the coconut mat should be level with the basket’s top.
Water your plants and hang the basket somewhere with the appropriate light. Some plants appreciate the full sun while others appreciate shadier conditions. Confirm which environment your plant likes before hanging your basket.
Check water levels daily for the first few weeks while your plants are settling in. The more sun they’re exposed to, the more watering they’ll need. Don’t overdo it, though, as too much watering can lead to root rot and fungal diseases.
You can use this same technique to line window boxes and planting troughs. Choose coconut fiber mats sold in sheets or rolls, which you can cut down to the size you need. These planting containers often don’t drain as well since they sit flat on the ground, so resist overwatering.
Once you discover how to use coconut coir in gardening, you won’t want to stop. Coconut fiber is so easy to work with, and it gets results. You’ll find this revolutionary product at your local garden center or online garden supplies store.