What Do You Think Of Coconut Coir?

Kelly Irvin kellso@irvincentral.com
Wed, 28 Jul 2010 16:31:34 PDT

The following link, "http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/potmix.html", 
provides references to places that market coir based product which 
guarantee no salt.

Mr. Kelly M. Irvin
10850 Hodge Ln
Gravette, AR 72736
USDA Cold Hardiness Zone 6a/b


On 7/28/10 6:22 PM, Josh Young wrote:
> Steve,
>      Believe me, that wasn't "too" much info!  I just potted some geos in it
> today and I was so amazed at how well it held water and how quickly it drained! 
> I ordered a few more bricks right afterwards, now I'm regreting it! 
>      I'll give it a good bath and we'll see what happens, I just dont want to
> risk losing any of my plants, I usually only have a plant or two of each species
> that I collect and to lose one isn't worth it!
> Josh
> Indiana
> ________________________________
> From: Steve Marak<samarak@gizmoworks.com>
> To: Pacific Bulb Society<pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Wed, July 28, 2010 7:06:31 PM
> Subject: Re: [pbs] What Do You Think Of Coconut Coir?
> This is a subject that seems to be coming up on a lot of lists I'm on.
> There's some confusion because there seem to be several closely related
> products. I'm aware of three: fibrous coir, coconut husk chips, and coir
> peat (obtained usually from the dust generated when producing the other
> two).  All are obtained from the husks of coconuts, and the stories I hear
> about them seem to be similar, but they're rarely interchangable in use.
> Fibrous coir has many non-horticultural uses, too.
> With good quality bark becoming more expensive and harder to get, many
> orchid growers are looking at coconut husk chips as an alternative, and -
> since even among fanatic plant-growers few groups are as fervant as
> orchidists - I've done a lot of reading in those circles (plus I'm an
> orchid grower too, and I hate repotting). Some are also using fibrous coir
> as a substitute for long-fiber sphagnum.
> Most people seem happy with the water-holding qualities of all three
> products, as well as their stability in use (less repotting). The question
> of salt, and how to remove it, is always the big one - there are many
> reports of people losing plants after moving them to a coir-based medium,
> and it's always blamed on salt, though I don't know how many people
> actually test to be sure. Salt content is reported to vary widely
> depending on source.
> At any rate, it's always recommended to thoroughly wash the fibrous coir
> and coconut husk chips, soaking them for at least several days and
> changing the water regularly, before using it. If you're going to use a
> lot of it, I'd recommend buying a cheap "Total Dissolved Solids" meter. It
> won't produce lab-quality measurements, since they measure using
> electrical conductivity, but it's good enough to give you a baseline on
> your tap water (or whatever the source of your rinse water is), and to
> compare that to what's shown after the coir has been soaking. When the two
> numbers get fairly close together, we assume that we've done all we can do
> just leaching with our tap water.
> Some have looked into it much more deeply - Bob and Lynn Wellenstein, at
> Antec Laboratories, suggest that after water-soaking the coir, you soak it
> in a solution of calcium nitrate and magnesium sulfate, to help remove
> sodium and potassium ions which may be adhering to the surface (and which
> may not be removed by just a water soak). Here's a link:
> http://ladyslipper.com/coco3.htm
> I've tried soaking coir peat, too. As you'd expect, it's a dirty,
> unrewarding task which leaves you with a sodden glob of muck. I've read
> that coir peat is much more thoroughly washed by the time we get it, and
> that additional soaking isn't necessary, but can't verify that. We haven't
> used that much of it. So far, we're happy with the chips we've used for
> orchids.
> Probably more than anyone wanted to read or know ...
> Steve
> On Wed, 28 Jul 2010, Mary Sue Ittner wrote:
> ...
>> As I recall there were some negative responses and some positive ones about
>> using coir. On a recent trip to South Africa, I helped Rod and Rachel Saunders
>> repot some Scadoxus to sell and they were growing them in pure coir, nothing
>> else. When I asked about this, remembering that people had said they had lost
>> things using coir, Rod told me that you needed to wash it many times before
>> using it to be sure that you have removed the salt from it. But then they
>> found it worked quite well. It reminded me that I once heard a lecture on
>> insectivorous plants by a man who had written a great book about growing them
>> and he lost everything using coir, but I don't know if he washed it first.
> -- Steve Marak
> -- samarak@gizmoworks.com
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