There has not been a steeper increase in substrate sales than with coco coir over the last few years. It has rapidly become one of the top sellers of the current time, but why? Rich Hamilton investigates.
Why Retailers and Distributors Love It
Price and Shelf Life
Retailers and distributors have helped push coco to its new heights. The product offers several perks, including being reasonably priced so shops can make a healthy profit from sales. Coco is a fantastic product to stock, as it is relatively lightweight and is available in several easy-to-store pressed forms such as bricks and discs. The inert nature of coco coir also means it is hardy and resistant to mold, fungus and pests. It has a long shelf life, and therefore, there is very little wastage of stock.
Most retailers have experience and a passion for growing themselves, and of course, they want to advise their customers on best practices. This is where coco comes in; it has so many beneficial features that we can apply to many types of gardens, so it serves the needs of most customers. In addition, coco coir is easy to work with and offers consistent results, making it perfect for growers of all experience levels. The fact that so many retailers I spoke with use coco themselves proves how excellent a substrate it is.
Why Growers Love It
Versatility, Drainage, and Aeration
The reasons why many growers recommend and use coco are many. Firstly, coco coir is versatile enough to support a wide variety of plants in different situations. For example, it can work well for succulents or as an addition to any houseplant soil, as it has good drainage and aeration, which helps prevent waterlogged or rotting roots.
Use it as an amendment outdoors to improve soil structure and increase organic matter. Coco decomposes slowly, so it benefits the soil for a very long time. Coco can help improve the texture of sandy or clay soil so that roots can grow strong. Its absorbency means that plants have access to additional nutrients. Coco’s excellent water retention also helps plant roots recover from dry spells quicker, as it is easier to wet again and requires less irrigation.
For plants grown indoors and requiring specific nutrient levels, coco is ideal. It is naturally inert, meaning you can manipulate it to hold the necessary levels of essential nutrients that your plants need for optimum growth and development. Soil has its levels of nutrients and microbiological life. With soil, you have to feed the substrate, which breaks down the feed and passes it on to the plant; but you can never be sure of what levels the plant is receiving. With coco, however, you are feeding the plant and not the substrate. Nutrients provided in the ionic form are held by the coco and are quickly taken up by the plant.
Coco coir is by far the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly substrate out there, which in today’s eco-conscious world goes a long way to explaining its popularity. Peat moss has long been a traditional choice for gardeners. However, this medium takes hundreds of years to replenish, and for that reason, it’s not a sustainable choice. Coco coir, however, is a natural waste product and its manufacture and disposal have minimal impact on the environment.
Value and Quality
The value for money that coco delivers is another critical factor behind its success. Relatively low-cost, coco has the bonus of being re-usable. Unfortunately, peat moss is not structurally sturdy enough to be recycled, and soil, once used, might be drained of all its natural microbiology. Coco coir, on the other hand, can be washed clean and re-used.
The quality of coco coir is a winner with growers. It is odorless, easy, pleasant to handle, free from pests and pathogens, and consistent in quality.
Coco offers excellent results when used in a drain to waste system, which is why it is so popular with indoor growers. This substrate is great at holding on to what you give it. When using a coco-specific feed, your plants have all their nutrients so they can put more effort into growing rather than searching for food.
Of course, pH is essential and can be the difference between a healthy crop and a failed crop. Soil pH can fluctuate dramatically depending on environmental factors, while traditional peat moss has an acidic pH of 3.8-4. The neutral pH of coco coir (between pH 5.5-6.8) makes it ideal for a wide variety of plants and vegetables. Coco can also help balance and maintain the pH when mixed in with soil or peat in outside gardens.
As if that was not enough, coco also has natural anti-fungal properties that may resist soil-born root diseases such as Pythium and phytophthora. In addition, coco naturally repels and deters certain moisture-loving pests. It can do this because the top layer of coco drains and dries out quickly, keeping humidity to a minimum.
So, Why Coco?
Coco coir ticks every box that you could want as either a grower or a retailer. This substrate has become a runaway success story in recent years, and the above points make it easy to see why. If you have not grown in coco yet, give it a whirl!