Is coco coir better than soil?

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Is coco coir really better than commonly used soils? Now that’s a question and a half! Not sure what coco coir is? It’s rinsed coconut husk fibres compressed into blocks. When mixed with nutrients, it can create a compost. The technical term is a ‘growing medium’.

And soil? Well, that’s what’s in your garden. For most plants, the sweet spot is a rich loam which is a balance of sand, silt and clay. Too much of one or the other, and you start to run into problems. The same goes for new builds with barely any top soil, just sub soil in which nothing can thrive. Thanks Bob The Builder!

Depending on how and where you want to use coco coir or soil, each has its pros and cons. Spoiler alert: a blend of both might be the best answer…

Can I use coco coir instead of soil?

Absolutely! Coco coir is lighter than soil, which helps roots find their way through. When root cells absorb oxygen, it also boosts the plant’s ability to create energy to grow.

Keep forgetting to water your plants? No problem. Coco coir is great at retaining and releasing water. In fact, it’s almost impossible to over-water coir.

Just remember, pure coco coir is sterile, which means it won’t have any bugs or weeds. Whoop whoop! The downside is that, unlike most garden soil, coir bricks don’t have any nutrients. So you will need to add fertilisers. Or just buy a coco coir compost blend instead, with nutrients already built in.

Growing in coco coir vs soil

In containers

When it comes to containers, you’re setting yourself up to fail if you use ordinary garden soil. Soil compacts in small spaces. Which means roots don’t have enough space to spread out and bring in oxygen.

Exhibit A: before joining us, our team member Helen planted up foxglove seeds in pots filled with soil. Not one plant survived. (Cue face palm).

Mixing it up

If you’ve a lot of space to cover, you might want to make your coco coir compost go further by mixing it with soil. Why not try:

• 60% loam – either bought in, or from your garden
• 40% compost

Or if your garden soil isn’t that good, go 50/50 soil and compost.

Tip: Check your garden soil is pest-free first, so you don’t give nasties a lift into your next growing season.

Adding coco coir to clay soil

Clay soil is notoriously dense, truly the Dumb And Dumber of all garden soil types. If it bakes dry in the summer, it’s like concrete. In a wet spell, it turns into a quagmire.

By digging coco coir into your clay soil, you’ll help create a soil structure with more air. More air means more space, and more space means the soil is less likely to become waterlogged or compacted.

What is the best potting compost?

Potting compost includes organic matter to help encourage plant growth. You’ll often see composts listing its ‘NPK’ levels. This is short for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) – the nutrients plants need to develop roots, leaves, stems, flowers and fruits.

Our Coco Bloom blend is a perfect potting compost. To give a plant everything it needs for enhanced growth, we’ve added NPK and trace mineral elements to provide the best balance of nutrients. It delivers maximum flowering, fruiting and vegetable production. And it’s peat-free and sustainable too!

Tip: A general potting compost is fine for the majority of gardeners. But if you’re after prize-winning turnips, you’ll need more phosphorus. Or for blooming massive hydrangeas, add more potassium.

If you don’t have much space…

Our compressed coir composts take up far less space than bags of topsoil. We compress the coco coir, delivering it in cardboard boxes rather than plastic sacks. You then add water and fluff it up as and when you need it.

Tips from the ‘Green Gardeners Guild’ online advice library

Want more tips about growing with coco coir? Take a look at our helpful blogs:

How to use coconut coir in gardening

Which plants grow in coco coir?

How often should I give my plants nutrients?

Show off your coco coir creations!

If you’ve grown anything in Coco & Coir, we would love to see the results! Share your photos and tag @cocoandcoir on Instagram. We’ll credit you for any images we use and you’ll also be in with a chance to win some Coco & Coir goodies for your sustainable garden.