How to: use coconut peat
Need a lightweight, easily stored, highly effective potting medium?
Look no further than this byproduct of coconut production, which has advantages for plants as well as gardeners.
This collection of beautifully grown potted plants stand at the front door of Broughton Hall. See the rest of this stunning garden on our Inside Victoria tour this spring. Photo - Robin Powell
Coconut peat, also called coco peat, coco pith and coir, is a byproduct of the coconut processing industry. The husks are soaked and washed to extract the coir fibres which are used for the manufacture of many familiar household products, including doormats and brushes. The peat dust extracted in this process is washed, filtered and dried into blocks.
Coconut peat is a great product to use in the garden: as a high-quality potting medium or addition to other potting media; as a propagation medium; a medium for air-layering; or simply as a long-lasting, water- retentive, organic addition to garden beds.
Advantages for gardeners:
1. The cost-effective compressed blocks are light to carry and easy to store - simply add water when needed.
2. It has great longevity as a potting medium, remaining in peak condition after five years in a warm humid climate, meaning less time spent repotting plants.
3. It retains moisture so you don’t have to water as frequently.
Advantages for plants
1. It stimulates a healthy vigorous root system and retains a slightly acidic pH which encourages vigorous growth in most plants.
2. It drains readily, even during heavy rain periods, and rewets easily when it has dried out.
3. It has antifungal benefits.
I’ve found that a combination of coconut peat and chip (chipped coconut husk), which is often available commercially as a 60/40 blend, seems to be the ideal blend for a potting mix. I combine it with 30 percent coarse perlite and a controlled release fertiliser, to make an amazing potting medium. I just can’t believe the quality of plant growth I am now getting!
Coconut peat is available as compressed blocks in most garden centres and hardware stores. If you haven’t yet used it, it might be time to hunt some down and give it a trial during the busy spring season.