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what sort of soil is this?

Posted by petrushka z7b (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 21:41

i recently got sev hybrid aloes and also gollum jade. they were all planted in this very strange medium - sort grainy, does not look like peat. and in small plastic pots with lots of holes in the bottom - like they use for wicking mats.
anybody knows what this is?
could it be that they are grown on wicking mats? or it's just for drainage?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: what sort of soil is this?

  • Posted by rina_ 6a Ont (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 22:06

Could it be coconut fibre? I bought coconut coir brick, looks very much like your photo, - here is description from one website:

What is Coconut Coir?

Coconut Coir bricks are a 100% natural by-product of coconut harvesting, done using sustainable methods in India and Sri Lanka. It is a sustainable alternative to peat moss and is used in the same gardening capacity. Coco Coir bricks consist of the coarse coir fibers extracted from the husk on the outer shell of a coconut. Once considered useless, coconut coir bricks are increasingly used as a growing medium by commercial greenhouse operations. Because of its superior water holding capacity, excellent air space and drainage, coco coir bricks are useful in

modern hydroponics and as a soil amendment for potted plants, containers and gardens. Coconut coir fibers are superior to peat moss and rock wool for structural stability, water absorption, drainage and doesn’t decompose as quickly lasting longer in your soil.

When coco coir bricks are included as a soil amendment, your plants require less fertilizers, develop more elaborate and stronger root systems, and are more resistant to disease, pathogens and weeds.

see here

RE: what sort of soil is this?

i think you're right! it looks A LOT like coir 'peat'.
i see that it is used in hydro-culture. i use coir matting to line my pots - for better wicking. i grow a lot of plants on wicks.
but succulents? that's a surprise!
i also had hawortia in it too.
i continued to grow new plants in it for sev months. when i repotted i noticed that the roots were very healthy.
i actually saved some of the original medium and added black gold cactus medium to it (with lots of perlite in it).
so it's possible to wick succulents then? i would think that it would hold too much moisture though?

RE: what sort of soil is this?

Petrushka, I'm really curious about how you use the coir matting. Could you explain? I've only ever seen coir matting sold for lining wire hanging baskets and such. Do you use that and cut it to size or are there other options sold somewhere?

RE: what sort of soil is this?

i buy coir matting by the foot - it's like fabric. then i cut it or just tear it, sometimes for very small pots i split it in two layers. in a pinch you can buy liners for baskets and tear it up. my wick goes on the outside of coir: loop on the bottom and then up the side and bottom edge into water reservoir. usually they insert wicks into soil, but i don't .
coir wets very well and roots love it . it creates a kind of aerated layer on the outside of the root ball and between the plastic pot. i think it sort of air-prunes roots like in air-pots.
i also stuff a little pad of it into the bottom of all of my pots, including clay with succulents - so the soil does not fall out.

RE: what sort of soil is this?

On the left is CHC, coconut husk chips and on the right coir. I get the coir premixed with perlite. Both are purchased from Roberts Orchid Supply in Ohio I use the CHC as the chunk in my mix because it lasts forever... well almost forever.

RE: what sort of soil is this?

i'll be getting some cocochips and coirpeat for next year.
i've been reading up on it: it's also more neutral compared to bark chips and does not bind nitrogen. and peat does not compact like peat moss. unfortunately i can't find it locally, will need to order.
funny how accidental purchase leads to new discovery.

RE: what sort of soil is this?

  • Posted by rina_ 6a Ont (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 27, 13 at 19:02

I bought some compressed 'bricks' in Canadian Tire (in Canada), they were selling them off last fall for a $1/brick (bought all they had left). I don't know if they carry it any more.I didn't have any previous experience with it, but did see plants in stores planted in it. Bricks looked similar to the photo I found on net (I don't recall brand I bought).
Not sure what regular price is, but they seem to be available. I think they it is also used as reptile bedding? (not sure thou). And mushroom growing?

Coco chips were sold in larger 'bricks', it expanded a lot after I wetted it. I believe that it is advised to rinse chips few times, since they contain too much salt. Again, don't know much about either otherwise, but I did rinse the chips thoroughly (I actually left them soaking once for about a day-two). I found them too large, maybe just the brand I purchased.


This post was edited by rina_ on Sun, Oct 27, 13 at 19:07

RE: what sort of soil is this?

Wow, I knew coir was great but there are so many coconut husk products out there that I'd never even heard of!
Petrushka - Thanks for explaining. That's a really good idea.

RE: what sort of soil is this?

You know, I totally dissed this stuff when I bought a Sans in it late last fall, but in retrospect, it wasn't terrible stuff, even for a Sans. The plant didn't rot, and I didn't water it for about 3 months, just a little 6" pot. It seemed to stay more evenly moist than regular potting soil/peat, and never did seem to get hydrophobic like 'regular peat.' When I repotted in the spring, it fell away from the roots without much effort from me. There were no tiny particles. I saw your comment in another thread, Petruska, about wanting to water less often. From this one experience with this stuff, I think you might find it useful. I would like to know where to get some too, I can't always 'make' potting soil when I need it, either due to weather or seasonal availability of some of the stuff I usually use. I would definitely choose it over regular potting soil.

I'm finding coconut coir, and coco peat, compressed coco fiber, coco coir, and coconut coir peat on More confused, I could not be...

RE: what sort of soil is this?

the main products are long fiber (pressed or loose or may be cut ),
coco peat (loose granules or compressed in bricks)
and chunks (or croutons).
unfortunately there's mix-up in naming. and same names are used for diff products. you need to see the texture of the product or exact description to know what you are getting.
this is the stuff same as cocofiber liners for baskets, but thicker and sold as matting by the foot(i use it with wicks as inner basket) :
there is also loose packed cocofiber: same as above, but not matted flat - kinda like very thick hair in wads.
i think that it is used in hydroponics, not sure. hydroforum will know best.
the pic i posted first(got it in my bought pots as medium)
is coco peat/coir peat.
interesting article about re-using it! of all things

RE: what sort of soil is this?

Yes, that's what got me confused! I know what I had and want, but no idea which item name would match that. Also no sense of scale looking at those things online. No idea if I'm buying enough for one pot or 12. I wouldn't have noticed this stuff if stores already have it, so going to see what's on shelves before deciding it's only available online.

That article WAS fascinating, I read the whole thing. Also helpful to avoid getting something that needs pre-treatment or would degrade more quickly than necessary. I don't know what kind of investment would be needed to get a lot of plants switched over, but it would be great to just buy a bag (or brick, as the case may be) of something decent. Mixing stuff up in a baby pool or big plastic tub gets less fun every time...

Only wish all of the tiny succulents I got earlier this year were in this instead of old-school peat. I think my efforts to separate that stuff from roots is what killed a few of them when I repotted. About the 32nd plant, that got really old and I got pretty rough. Man that stuff's a pain but I know what would have happened if I just put those peat balls in bigger pots of better stuff, also dead plants.

So, coco peat is the same thing as cococoir mentioned above, and in your pic? Here's a pic of the pot of stuff I had, back in January. I'm pretty sure it's the same stuff in your initial pic.

RE: what sort of soil is this?

yours is a bit coarser, i think. mine does not have any coarse bits, not even 1/8", otherwise looks the same.
it has a pleasant grainy feel to touch.
basically you can get 'fine bark size' too- i know i've seen it someplace online. and it's not acidic - it's neutral, won't bind nitrogen.
found a good write-up on medium on .edu - they say it's BETTER then bark.
funny that ALL succulents i got this year were in this fine coir peat: hawortia, sev griffin(?) aloe hybrids. i liked the feel of it, but was very perplexed.

RE: what sort of soil is this?

Glad I found this post! I was repotting a Moonshine Sans this evening and was perplexed by the medium. Bought the plant at Wal-Mart and it was from Costa Farms. I decided to keep the stuff since it didn't seem like the typical peat junk that plants come in.

RE: what sort of soil is this?

Ahel., that's the exact same plant I just posted the soil of - a 'Moonshine' Sans from WM/Costa Farms. Went to inspect a couple new plants not yet repotted and found one of them is also in it. It looks awesome too & I've been wondering why it keeps looking so good at a WM where they don't care for their plants. After admiring this one for about 3 months, I finally got it this week. I haven't even asked (here) what it is yet but now don't plan to repot that unless/until it starts looking poorly.

Petruska, you got lucky! And you're right, the feel of it was the most unusual aspect. ...and I did like touching it, I just thought I wasn't supposed to like anything about it, so convinced myself I didn't.

I'm pretty excited about this stuff.

RE: what sort of soil is this?

i found a pretty good cactusguide forum where a lot of people use it at 20%-30% even 50% of the succulent mix.
what i don't get is how com.growers manage not to rot the plants? how do they water the stuff in 100% coir?
could it be wicking mats that are kept almost dry and then are wetted for only short time?
'cause my plants were in plastic multihole pots, like totally perforated bottoms! which is for wicking usually.
AND i left them in those pots for 4 months and they were totally fine - but i am a super underwaterer :). and i never water cacti/succulents to run-thru... well may be once or twice a year ,if only...
so it seems to be a somewhat dangerous medium for succulents and yet...

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