Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Coco soil is used in horticulture for growing and improving the soil and is also a convincing, easy-care planting substrate in flower pots and planters. The unfertilised, peat-free coco soil consists of coconut fibres extracted from the husk of the fruit and is thus an environmentally friendly alternative to commercial potting soil.

It is often also called coco peat, coco coir, coco humus or coco substrate. In addition, coco soil is also ideal as bedding in terrariums for reptiles and as a substrate for worms.

With the help of our coco soil test 2021 we want to help you find a coco soil that is ideally suited for the intended use and meets your requirements and needs. For this purpose, we have looked at different coco soils and presented you with the respective results from the comparisons.




Summary

  • Coconut soil is obtained from the coconut fibres of a coconut husk. As an actual waste product, coconut soil is an environmentally friendly and sustainable product.
  • You can use coconut soil as an excellent alternative for potting and planting soil. It is also very suitable as a substrate for terrariums and for worms.
  • The properties of coco soil are very beneficial for plants and animals as well as the environment. However, they can vary greatly in yield from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The Best Coco Soil: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for coconut soil

Coco soil can vary greatly in quality and suitability. Depending on what you want to use the coco soil for, the criteria that the coco soil should fulfil will also change. The characteristics you should base your decision on include:

In the following section we will explain what exactly you should look for in each of the criteria.

Quality

The quality of the coco soil plays a decisive role in the selection. In principle, coco soil is very loose and fine thanks to the short coconut fibres and is therefore ideal for your plants. However, it has been found that the quality of the substrate can vary greatly depending on the production process and manufacturer.

Coco soil is characterised by its loose texture, which has many advantages for plants.

If the coco soil consists of comparatively rather long fibres, it is less permeable to air and has a firmer structure. This prevents the even supply of nutrients to the plants. The hardened soil also harms root growth.

If, on the other hand, the coco humus consists of very short fibres and is therefore very fine and porous, this will also have negative consequences for your plants. A soil that is too loose does not have a good storage capacity and thus cannot provide enough nutrients for the plants.

Water storage capacity

Due to the properties of the coconut fibres and their processing, coconut soil naturally has a very high water storage capacity. However, as with the composition, this can vary greatly from brand to brand.

To illustrate the extremely high water absorption of coconut soil, we have compared it with the water storage capacity of expanded clay. Expanded clay is often used as a planting granulate for hydroponics and is a popular substitute for normal potting soil because of its good water storage capacity.

The capacity of coconut soil is about 8 to 9 times its weight. Expanded clay, on the other hand, can only hold about 0.6 times its weight in water.

The pot of hydroponic plants is filled with a highly water-absorbent substrate that gives the roots sufficient support. This plant pot in turn stands in a water-filled planter.

Coco soil enables efficient watering of your plants and only needs to be watered infrequently. This reduces the leaching of nutrients in the soil and saves a lot of water.

Salt content

In general, coco soil is unfertilised and low in nutrients and therefore has a low salt content. Due to the low salt concentration, coco soil is excellently suited for hydroponic plants, as damage to the sensitive roots by salt crystals is excluded.

The salt content, also called electrolyte content, is measured with the unit microsiemens (µS), which indicates the amount of dissolved particles in the water. Commercially available, fertilised potting soil has a value of around 800 - 1200 µS. For coconut soil, the electrolyte content should be around 500 µS.

However, various product reviews have shown that in some cases the coco potting soil unfortunately had a higher salt concentration. This problem can be solved very quickly and easily by washing the coco soil thoroughly and rinsing the salt out of the substrate. We always recommend that you read the reviews of the coco soil before you buy it.

Smell

If you imagine that coco soil smells like a candle with a coconut scent, we are sorry to disappoint you. Nevertheless, the smell of coconut soil is very pleasant, as it is only very light and rather neutral in contrast to conventional potting soil, which usually carries a very strong and penetrating scent.

coconut soil has a very neutral smell because it does not contain any additional substances.

The almost odourlessness is due to the fact that coconut soil consists of purely natural coconut fibres and is unfertilised and peat-free. By not containing any additional ingredients, the coco soil has also not been given any additional odours.

As with the salt content, however, we have found in various reviews that some coconut soils unfortunately had an unusual and slightly unpleasant scent. Therefore, we recommend that you read the reviews of the products before buying.

Packaging

The packaging of coco soil does not have anything to do directly with the product, but it also has a great influence on the choice of substrate. One of the biggest plus points of coco soil is that it is completely organic and biodegradable, making it an environmentally friendly alternative to fertilised and peat-enriched potting soil.

In most cases, coco potting soil is wrapped in thin plastic packaging. Some products also have a small paper card describing the product and explaining how to use it. Only very few coco substrates come in packaging that is only made of cardboard.

If environmental friendliness is the deciding factor for you to buy coco soil instead of commercial potting soil, you can go for the alternatives that have paper packaging.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying coco potting soil

There are many different aspects you should consider before buying coconut soil. In the following section we have summarised and answered the most important questions so that there are no more uncertainties.

What is special about coco soil and what advantages does it offer?

The biggest advantage of coco soil is its environmental friendliness. The unfertilised and peat-free substrate is extracted from the shell of the coconut and consists of 100 % purely natural coconut fibres. Coco humus is therefore also completely biodegradable.

In this sense, coco humus is a waste product of the coconut and thus an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional potting soil. In addition, coco potting soil also convinces with its advantageous properties and efficient application possibilities. First of all, it is very productive and weighs very little.

For the same amount of commercial potting soil you only need about one third of the weight of coco substrate. In addition, coco soil is clean and sterile. It is free of pests, fungi and weed seeds, so it has a very low susceptibility to mould.

Kokoserde-1

As an actual waste product of the coconut, coco soil is an environmentally friendly substrate. The natural coconut fibres are also 100% biodegradable. (Image source: Jonas Dücker / unsplash)

Coco soil also has a loose and fine structure, so it does not compact. Thanks to its high permeability, a lot of oxygen can reach the roots and thus stimulate growth. This is why root rot is very rare. Due to its special composition, coconut soil can also store water and nutrients particularly well and distribute them evenly.

The water capacity of coconut soil is about 8 to 9 times its weight. Furthermore, coconut fibres are very structurally stable, so that the soil does not harden even with excessive watering, as the excess water simply runs off.

What types of coco soil are there?

As already explained, coco soil can have different characteristics and vary greatly from supplier to supplier. In principle, however, a distinction is made between two types of coco soil, which we will introduce to you in the following.

Pressed coco soil

This type of coco soil is, as the name suggests, pressed into compact blocks and sold in this form. To use the coco soil, you need to soak it in water according to the instructions.

Advantages
  • Very space-saving due to the compact form
  • easy to transport
  • purchase of larger quantities at once possible
Disadvantages
  • Must be soaked in water before use
  • texture and quantity not visible due to the pressed form
  • quality differences between the individual blocks possible

If you don't have much space for storage and still want to buy large quantities of coco soil, the pressed and compact version of the substrate is the best choice for you.

Loose coco soil

With loose coco soil you do not need to prepare anything else, which is why it is also called ready-to-use coco soil. You can use it immediately after purchase.

Advantages
  • Can be used immediately after purchase
  • quality can be checked
  • quantity can be better estimated
Disadvantages
  • Difficult to transport and store
  • Takes up a lot of space

If you want to check the coco soil before you buy it and use it directly after purchase without having to work on the substrate, the loose and ready-to-use coco soil is perfect for you.

What is coco soil suitable for?

Coco soil is mainly used for growing and cultivating all kinds of flowers and plants. You can use it in pots and tubs as well as for outdoor planting. Whether indoor and balcony plants or crops such as herbs, vegetables and fruit, coco humus is an excellent medium for productive and healthy plant growth.

This is because coco soil has excellent properties such as loose soil texture, structural stability of the coco fibres, high air permeability, enormous capacity for water and nutrients, and low susceptibility to mould.

Kokoserde-2

Coco soil is very suitable for young plants, as its loose texture allows an optimal supply of air, water and nutrients.
(Image source: Andreas Göllner / pixabay)

Coco soil is also very suitable as a substrate in terrariums and for worms. Due to its extremely high absorbency, the coco substrate effectively binds liquids and odours and also creates an ideal humid climate for the animals.

As coco soil is unfertilised and free of stones, fungi, weed seeds as well as other impurities, it prevents the animals from ingesting harmful and indigestible components.

How much does coco soil cost?

Coco soil is sold in different quantities. This is why the price is often quoted per kilogram. However, since there is a big difference between pressed and loose coco soil in terms of density and thus weight, we need to look at the price per litre.

The loose and ready-to-use coconut soil can be quoted directly in litres, whereas the pressed coconut substrate still has to be swollen with water in order to find out how many litres are produced.

Type Price range
Pressed coco soil Approximately 0.30 to 0.90 euros/litre
Loose coco soil Approximately 0.50 to 1.10 euros/litre

Depending on the manufacturer, the cost of pressed coconut soil can range from about 0.30 to 0.90 euros per litre. Loose coco soil can be bought at a price of about 0.50 to 1.10 euros per litre and is therefore a little more expensive. This may be due to the fact that loose coco potting soil is already ready for use.

Conventional potting soil costs around 0.20 to 0.50 euros per litre and is therefore only slightly cheaper than coconut soil. For your orientation we have a small example: If your balcony box measures about 50 x 19 x 19 cm, you can fit about 18 litres of soil in it.

How do I use coco soil?

If you have bought pressed coco soil, you still have to do some preparations before you can use it properly and correctly. In the following table we have listed and described all the necessary steps. Of course, you should read and follow the instructions on the product you bought.

Action step Description
Suitable container First of all, you need to find a suitable container for the swelling of the coconut soil. Remember that the compact shape of the substrate is only deceptive as it has been compressed. The coco soil will expand many times its volume. As a guide, 650 grams of coco humus will make about 9 litres of soil when swollen.
Add water If you have placed the coco soil in a suitable container, you must now add water. For 650 grams of coco humus you should use about 4 litres of water. Depending on the consistency you want your coco soil to have, you can of course add a little more or less water. Now you have to wait about 20 minutes until the substrate is completely swollen.
Mix the coco soil should now have the desired consistency and the typical loose and fine structure. To ensure that everything has swollen evenly and to further loosen the coco soil, you should mix it thoroughly again by hand and remove any lumps and add some more water if necessary.

If you have already bought ready-to-use coco soil, you do not need to make this effort and can use it immediately after purchase. As coco soil is naturally unfertilised and low in nutrients, we recommend that you fertilise the substrate if you want to use it for your plants.

What do I do if my coco soil becomes mouldy?

In general, coco soil is not very susceptible to mould thanks to its properties. However, every now and then coco humus may start to mould. This is because the surrounding air is constantly infested with invisible mould spores that settle on the coco soil and feed on dead plant material.

The mould then becomes visible as a white coating on the soil in combination with high humidity. To prevent plant death, you must act quickly. Below we have summarised the measures you should take.

  • Remove plants and soil: Carefully remove the affected plants from the coco soil, taking care not to damage the roots. Remove the substrate from the pots immediately. You should do this outside in the fresh air, as there is a risk that the mould spores can spread to the surrounding area.
  • Save the plants: If the plants are still healthy, you can thoroughly remove the remains of the coco soil and rinse the plants again with water. The roots should be cut off with a sharp cutting tool and also treated with fungicide and then left to dry.
  • Repotting: You can now re-pot the plants into your old, disinfected pots or into new ones. To do this, simply fill the pots with fresh and sterile coco soil as you did at the beginning and carefully insert the plants.

To prevent mould, you should ensure sufficient ventilation so that the humidity in the room is not too high. In addition, you should not water your plants excessively. To be on the safe side, you can use a drainage system so that excess water can simply run off.

You should remove dead plant remains as quickly as possible to prevent mould spores from multiplying in the first place.

What alternatives are there to coconut soil?

If you are still not sure whether coco soil is the best option for you, you can of course look at other alternatives and compare them with each other. For this purpose, we have compiled some options in the following table and described their respective properties.

Alternative Description
Potting soil Commercially available potting soil is specially adapted to the needs of cultivated potted flowers and tub plants. Due to the growing conditions in the pot, it is in most cases already richly fertilised and enriched with peat to ensure an optimal supply of water and nutrients.
Potting soil Potting soil is intended for outdoor planting and is used for new plantings. Since it is usually not used as the only substrate, it contains little fertiliser compared to potting soil. Potting soil improves the soil condition and is generally suitable for all types of plants in the garden, bed and greenhouse.
Compost soil If you have the possibility to compost, you can also make your own soil. Any plant waste, such as leaves, grass clippings or vegetable waste, is suitable for this. The waste is then decomposed into humus by various soil organisms and microorganisms. Since it is purely organic material, compost is very sustainable.
Planting granulate This alternative is often also called clay granulate, expanded clay or planting clay. The substrate consists of pure baked clay that forms into small balls in the course of the heating process. Clay granulate is characterised above all by its high water storage capacity and also rarely tends to form mould.

You have to decide which of these alternatives is the most suitable for you based on your requirements and the intended area of application. However, there is no denying that compost and coco soil are the most sustainable options.

However, not everyone has the space to compost, so coco humus is the better option for many. Moreover, coco humus can match and even surpass most of the benefits of the other options.

Conclusion

Coco soil is not only convincing because of its environmentally friendly and sustainable properties, but also because of its efficiency and yield. The substrate can be used in a variety of ways and is ideal for your flowers and plants. It is also ideal as a substrate for reptiles and worms.

Coco humus is available in pressed and loose form. Pressed coco soil saves a lot of space due to its compact form, whereas loose coco soil is already ready to use and thus saves a lot of time.

There are, of course, some alternatives to coco soil. However, more and more hobby gardeners and plant owners are convinced of the advantages of coco substrate and are turning to this option.

Image source: Sudthangtum/ 123rf.com

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