Over the years using coco (sometimes called coir) in pots as a hydroponic media has become an increasingly popular way to grow plants. There are 3 main reasons for this occurrence:
1. Quality - The quality of plants grown in coco is often exceptional and more than a match for all competing mediums. With good formation, colour, look and taste, we’re not surprised that so many people have become fans of it!
2. Quantity - The yield and weight of crops grown in coco compares favourably against results that can be achieved using other hydroponic mediums such as rockwool – so there’s no need to compromise on quality or yield!
3. Eco-friendly - It is natural, environmentally and ecologically friendly, and made from renewable sources of coconut fibre. This alone should be a good enough reason to consider growing in coco!
Coco Growing Medium:
What exactly is coco and why is it so good?
All types of coco are different forms of media derived from the same raw component - coconut fibre. Traditionally most coco fibre is produced in Sri Lanka or thereabouts, with the most popular commercially available growing medium being Canna Coco Professional Plus.
Coco possesses all of the qualities of a great growing medium, having very good air content, drainage and structure – by this we mean that it doesn't compact, lose ability to drain (or air content) or restrict root growth and diversification. This adds up to make coco an ideal medium for growing plants in pots since there’s no need for any perlite or pebbles – you just use it as supplied for rooting cuttings or growing plants from start to finish! It will actively encourage roots to develop to full potential with the results of this root growth clearly visible through increased foliage and strong healthy plants. A lack of nutrient content in coco gives you complete control of plant feeds too - particularly favoured by experienced and experimental growers who strive to achieve the very best results. All coco media have also been impregnated with a beneficial mould Trichoderma that not only acts as a good root stimulant but also prevents pathogens and other harmful bacteria from entering the root zone.
In terms of usage, the systems that coco is suitable for are indicated below. It proves far more flexible than soil and more old-school types of media such as perlite and vermiculite.
OK, I'm convinced... what are my options?
Canna Coco Professional Plus - 50 litre bag
Coco Professional Plus has been a favourite coco medium for a long time now. There's no need to mix the coco flakes with anything else when using it in pots, just moisten with some half strength coco nutrient (this will read cF 10 - 15, dependent on your tap water start cF. For 2-part nutrients use 2ml of A and 2ml of B per Litre of water) and pot your plants up with the mix – simple as that! Continue to use half strength feed at every watering until the plants get much bigger, 60cm (2') or more.
Canna Coco Professional Plus Slabs
Coco Professional Plus 1m Slabs are also available (if you give us a call on 0845 345 5177), containing the same coco flakes as the bagged growing medium. The slabs ideally need loosening up before wetting and using by rolling them on their side or firmly pressing the sides. They should then be lightly moistened with a half strength (cF 10 - 15) Coco Professional feed or Plagron Coco feed before use. Place Cubes on or in the slab and use with drip lines. Start plants on a nutrient strength of approx cF 10 - 15 dependent on your tap water start cF. Aim for about a 10% to 20% run off of solution out of the slab at each dosing cycle. Make sure the slabs can drain freely. When the plants get big, two foot or more, you can gradually increase the feed strength over a few weeks, up to a maximum of cF 18 - 24.
Coco Nutrients and Boosters:
What feeds work most effectively with coco growing medium?
For dedicated coco growers, industry giants Canna and Vita Link spearhead an ever-widening choice of coco specific feeds. The Canna Coco two-part offering has an established reputation but you cannot fail to be impressed by Vita Link Coir and its finely tuned formulation of ingredients. There's also coco nutrients from House & Garden, Plagron and B'cuzz that are well worth checking out.
Hydroponics nutrients and booster supplements also work effectively with coco media. This is very convenient if you want to switch from one method of growing to the other and not have to make immediate wholesale changes. Recommended additives include Rhizotonic - which stimulates lifelong root growth and also provides stress relief, and Cannazym - for breaking down old roots and aiding nutrient uptake.
Plants grown in coco can suffer from a lack of calcium when roots struggle to transport the much needed mineral at an efficient rate. To counter this problem we recommend applying Vita Link Foliar Feed. It delivers vital supplies of calcium along with various other beneficial elements - just apply by spraying a 100mls per litre of water solution on plant leaves.
Like the sound of growing in coco and now want to give it a go? Start out on the right foot by reading our 'mastering the basics' article here.