Coco coir is an inert growing medium that contains no nutrients. It comes from the hairs and fibres of coconut husks. After washed and treated with salts, coco is a universal growing substrate. It has excellent water retention and drainage, making coco substrates one of the best products for plant growth. In this article, we explain all you need to know about growing plants with coco. How to feed coco substrates, its application in hydroponics, and much more.

Coco substrates, because of their properties, are ideal for germinating seeds, growing microgreens and cuttings.
Coco substrates, because of their properties, are ideal for germinating seeds, growing microgreens and cuttings.

The differences between potting soil and coco as a growing medium
Regular potting soil is a mix of diverse organic materials, substrates, and minerals. Usually, it includes materials decomposing and releasing primary, secondary, and trace elements for the roots. Growing plants in soil is straightforward. Using only plain water and adding liquid fertilizer periodically will do the trick fine.


Coco coir, on the other hand, is made up of the brown fibers on coconuts. The hairs from the coconut husk are treated to wash away any salts and contain no nutrients. This is one of the main reasons coco coir is used in hydroponics as well as mixed with soil to enhance aeration and wicking ability. This means that to feed plants growing in a coco base, you will need to use nutrients.

The coco substrate is a by-product of the coconut industry.
The coco substrate is a by-product of the coconut industry.

The benefits of growing plants using coco coir

● Roots thrive in coco thanks to the high amount of oxygen present
● Coco coir can be used in hydroponics as it contains no nutrients.
● Adding coco coir to soil can improve drainage and retention.
● Coco coir is easy to use and a good starting point for someone new to growing.
● Plants can become large and grow quickly during the growth period.
● Coco is reusable as long as the media is flushed with enzymes and the cultivations was pest-free. Check the pH and EC levels too.

 

What nutrients will I need when watering a plant in coco?
Coco coir is almost inert growing medium, with very low decomposition rate. Like other inert mediums such us rock wool, the nutrients must be added to the water. The fertilizers chosen will provide all the relevant micro and macronutrients.

 

• Root nutrient
When seedlings have sprouted, it is important to provide plenty of food for the roots. It is during this pinnacle stage that your plants will be forming and developing new cells. Establishing a strong root base is key for the mature plant.


• Growth nutrient
Designed for the growth period when plants are producing only branches, leaves, and foliage. A growth nutrient for coco will contain N-P-K and is meant to be used during the growing phase and even while flowering.


• Flowering nutrient
One of the most rewarding things about growing fruits and vegetables in coco coir is the high yields associated with it. Flowering nutrients will be high in P-K and act as boosters once plants begin flowering.


• Calcium and magnesium
Calcium and magnesium are classified as secondary nutrients after nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It is very important to supply the right levels of calcium and magnesium to coco substrates. These substrates tend to capture these nutrients naturally. So, adding extra calcium and magnesium is key to maintaining a balance in your plant nutrition.


• Enzymes
Adding enzymes to your nutrient solution has many benefits. From breaking down nutrients even quicker to washing undissolved salts off the medium. Enzymes are important during the whole plant cycle to help degrading organic matter in the soil.


Will I need to pH the water and nutrient solution to feed plants in coco?
The short answer is yes. However, this is easy to do. The reason why it is important to pH your water or nutrient solution is due to the fact plants absorb nutrients at a specific range of pH. The optimum pH range when growing in coco is 5.5 – 6.5.


The easiest way to check the pH of your water source/nutrient solution is to use a digital pH pen. Once you have a digital reading, you can now add pH up or down, which is a product designed to adjust pH levels. Once you have added your nutrients, you will be able to check the strength of the solution using an EC pen. This is also recommendable for hobbyist seaking for the most out of their crops.


Using coco in hydroponic systems
Coco coir is a popular choice among growers who like to grow vegetables using hydroponics. One of the best properties that coco has is that it can hold onto a large volume of water without losing oxygen. This makes coco an easy-to-work-with growing medium. It allows growers to decide exactly how much nutrient solution the crop will receive.


Irrigation dripper systems
The most common and easiest way to use coconut coir is with drip irrigation systems. This is often the method used on a large scale by commercial vegetable growers. Using a water pump, drip lines and coco coir as a growing medium, it is easy to produce plants on a large scale during the growing phase. Gardeners will enjoy larger fruits and vegetables compared to a soil-based crop. This is common in crops such as peppers, tomatoes, or strawberries.

A drip irrigation system using coco coir.
A drip irrigation system using coco coir.

What Atami products should I use to grow the best-quality crop in coco?
First, choose a good quality coconut substrate. The coconut that Atami uses as raw material is washed, matured and perfectly buffered, ready to use. This ensures that we only offer coco substrates of the highest quality.


First up is the Cocos Substrate, which offers 100% natural coco coir lightly fertilized. Due to the properties of coco coir, Cocos Substrate has excellent water retention. It is also light and airy, which allows oxygen to reach the roots and leads to a healthy and well-developed root system.


The Washed & Buffered Cocos is our latest addition to the Atami substrate family. This new coco substrate is 100% high-quality coco coir without previous fertilisation. It guarantees an impressively low electrical conductivity (EC). This substrate is the ultimate choice for growers who prefer to apply their nutrition right from the beginning.


Want a substrate with even more aeration? High Porosity Cocos could be the perfect option for you. This substrate offers all the benefits of growing in coco coir, with the added benefit of the aeration provided by perlite. This light substrate allows for the production of more root hairs, so your plants can absorb even more nutrients. Note that it may be necessary to water more often to keep up with High Porosity Cocos’ increased drainage.

And when it comes to nutrition you can trust in the power of the B’cuzz Coco products, take notes:
B’Cuzz Root Stimulator, B’Cuzz Coco A+B, B’Cuzz Coco Uni Booster, B’Cuzz Coco Bloom Stimulator, ATA Atazyme, and ATA CalMag are all the nutrients you will need as a first-time grower. To make sure that you are following our guide correctly, please follow our coco feeding guide.


Our top tips for growing plants with coco
Top tip #1 – Coco can hold a lot of water, so it does not need to be watered as frequently as soil. Our top tip here is to use coco coir outdoors on plants that suffer from dry periods. The coco will help allow the plants to hold more moisture at the soil level as well as insulate the roots during cold nights.


Top tip #2 – If you are growing with soil, but notice the pots are too heavy once watered, and the drainage is not the best, then why not try adding coco to the soil next time you make a custom soil blend? Adding coco will give the soil a sponge-like consistency and increase the amount of air pockets present around the roots.


Top tip #3 – If you like the idea of recycling your coco coir growing medium, is easy to do. You only need a thorough washing with enzymes. Once the coco fibers are free of any salts, there is no reason why you cannot plant new seeds or cuttings inside the same coco. Check the pH and EC levels after the cleanse and do not reuse it of you suffered from pests in your last grow.

Coco coir is becoming very popular for horticulturists and hobbyists.
Coco coir is becoming very popular for horticulturists and hobbyists.

Atami’s conclusion
Growing plants using a coco coir medium is very easy, ideal for anyone new to the gardening world. Coco substrates can be used with soil or hydroponic systems. When combined with high-quality nutrients, it is possible to take your production levels even higher with coco. We recommended trying working with coco and seeing just how beneficial it is. From adding air pockets, enhancing the water retention and drainage to the low maintenance and stress-free side associated with it.

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