How To Prepare Coco Coir For Hydroponics

by RightFit Gardens | Last Updated: July 20, 2021

Hydroponic growers are increasingly using coco coir as a grow medium for hydroponic systems. Despite its natural organic composition, coco coir has excellent root structure and plant productivity characteristics. Furthermore, it makes hydroponics more accessible, as it mimics potting mix without purchasing an entire system. Coco coir hydroponic systems are easy to set up even with garden pots since they look like regular potting soil and act similarly.

As coir is a renewable resource, it does require special care and attention for healthy plant growth and root systems. Brown coir, the more processed fiber, is best for hydroponics.

Before use, hydrate and clean.

preparing coco coir for hydroponicsCoco coir bricks are typically sold. You must first hydrate coconut coir fiber before it can be used. The amount of fresh water you need to hydrate depends on the package’s instructions. Additionally, you should wash your coir.

However, there is one disadvantage of coco peat: it contains high amounts of salt, which can kill your plants. Thus, you must rinse your coco coir in pH-balanced water to remove the salt. Make sure the tannins are completely washed out of the coir by further rinsing. Tannins will give the water a brown color. You should also completely rinse the salt when the water runs clear. You can eliminate this step if you purchase higher-quality coir since some manufacturers rinse and remove the salts before processing.

Nutrients Required for Coco Coir

Because hydroponic grade coir only contains trace amounts of essential minerals, it is considered an inert medium or without essential nutrients. Typical coir has high potassium and phosphorus content. Still, because it is low in calcium, chlorine, copper, iron, magnesium, boron, manganese, nitrogen, and zinc, nutrient supplementation is often required for optimum plant growth. You must refer to specific growing instructions to choose the best additional nutrients for your plants.

If you’re using a coconut coir product, you can eliminate the need for potassium and phosphorus in traditional nutrient-enriched water. Choose a nutrient supplement that is specifically designed for coir or build your own using individual supplements. Magnesium and calcium are the most important nutrients to supplement. A nutrient supplement with high nitrogen content is also recommended to encourage microorganism growth on coir, which requires nitrogen. Your plants will benefit from full control over their nutrient uptake. A simple solution is to purchase good-quality nutrients with a pH-perfect blend.

Increase Oxygen Levels

Due to the coarseness of the coco fiber, it has plenty of air pockets, which is why it is an excellent oxygen source for plant roots. Unfortunately, rehydrating coir first tends to cause it to clump together. For your hydroponic garden to work properly, you must get your hands dirty to break up any clumps of coir and make it fluffy before adding it to the system. Aeration can also be increased by adding recycled glass stones or perlite.

Don’t Forget the Beneficial Bacteria

In addition to being a great breeding ground for beneficial microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, coco coir is also an excellent binding agent. Unfortunately, these microorganisms are not naturally found in quality coco coir. You must introduce microorganisms into your system through supplements, organic nutrients, and fertilizers. It is also possible to encourage the growth of microorganisms by adding earthworm castings for hydroponic gardening.

Additional FAQs

What is Coconut Coir?

Everything in between the shell and the outer coating of the coconut seed is considered coco coir. Coconuts that are not yet ripe are harvested for their white fiber.

What are the different types of coir?

Two types of fibers make up coir brown and white.

What are the benefits of growing in horticultural coir?

Retains moisture and provides a good environment – coco coir is one of the most effective hydroponic mediums for excellent water retention out there. Coco, when used properly, represents the best of soil and hydro in a single media. Coconut coir chips end up breaking down slower and more evenly than bark and other wood chips, and they’ve also got anti-fungal properties.

What are the common concerns?

May need additional supplementation – you may find your plants short on calcium and magnesium when using coconut coir, so supplementing with Cal-Mag may be necessary.

What are the benefits of harvesting your coconuts?

Manufacturers who harvest from their coconut trees yield the highest quality goods since they oversee the entire production process and keep everything consistent.

What are the benefits of lime?

Potting mixes are made from acidic peat moss, and because of this acidity, lime can bring the right pH value.

What is the pH value of coconut coir mixes?

Coco is neutral in its pH value and will not neutralize the pH value of the nutrient solution; this means that the pH values are easier to control in coco but is not as forgiving as potting methods.

What is the next buffer?

The next buffer is the nutrient buffer. Substrates containing peat combine nutrients with the fibers or particles using the charge sites.

What are the nutrients in coco coir medium?

Coconut coir is filled with potassium and sodium.

What is the Cation Exchange Capacity?

Coco coir has a CEC between 40 and 100 meq/100g.

Why should I buffer my coco coir in hydroponics?

When buffering your classic ground coconut coir, you expose the cation exchange sites to a solution containing high concentration levels of the elements we want on the sites, Calcium and Magnesium. Coconut coir that is unbuffered throws off the nutrient balance of your hydroponic setup.

What are the different types of buffering products?

Water buffers, pH buffers, nutrient buffers, and coco buffers are all available.

How do I buffer the coco?

First, the coco bricks must be rehydrated. Plain water is suitable for rehydrating the coco bricks. Using a strainer, you can rinse the coco to remove the fine dust particles. It is recommended to double-buffer the coco next. Using the Cal-mag, you need to submerge the potassium and sodium cation exchange sites in enough buffering solution to completely absorb your fabric pot of coco.

What are the benefits of using Cal-mag?

By pre-soaking the coconut chips like this in a strong solution of Cal-mag, you ensure that the cation exchange sites are fully buffered. Once the buffering solution is refreshed, place the compressed bricks back into the bucket and buffer it again-double buffering ensures further that the plants do not suffer any calcium or magnesium deficiencies. The coco is ready after the second buffer.

What are the benefits of using perlite?

Perlite has high oxygen retention level. You can use a rough recipe of 6 quarts of perlite and 800g of coco mixed thoroughly with your hands. Pour a few quarts at a time.