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Sphagnum Peat Moss and Coir Mediums Compared


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#1 FlytrapRanch

 
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Posted 03 July 2011 - 15:31 PM

I have been experimenting with coir (from coconut husks) as a growing medium and substitute or alternative to sphagnum peat moss for about 2.5 years, and began a side-by-side experiment about 14 months ago. Although Sarracenia seem to prefer sphagnum peat moss, Venus Flytraps thrive in coir.

Last year in April I potted 6 medium-sized B52 Venus Flytraps with similar-sized bulbs, by first separating them into two groups of three, then planting each group of three into a 10-inch diameter pot. Both pots are identical polyurethane foam planters, and the Venus Flytraps have grown together in exactly the same conditions and with the same care regimen for the last 14 months.

The photo below was taken July 2, 2011. The 3 Flytraps in the pot on the left are growing in a traditional 50% sphagnum peat moss medium with 50% sand and perlite; the 3 Flytraps on the right are in a pot that contains a coir medium containing nothing but coir and (pure silica) sand.

Sphagnum peat moss and coir growing mediums comparison, 14 months of growth

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To anyone who would like to try coir, a couple things to note are--
  • "Coir" is a name that's thrown around a lot and means different things to different people, including the chopped fibers of a coconut husk (which is not what I use) and the pith that surrounds the fibers in the husk, that is normally removed and discarded during the extraction of the fiber intended for various uses including marine rope. This pith, sometimes called "coir dust," is what I use.
  • Regardless of anything a manufacturer may claim, the coir must be thoroughly desalinated before initial use (I learned this from experience, not mere theorizing) by soaking the coir for 8-12 hours at a time (the water absorbs about as much of the remaining soluble material as possible within about 8-10 hours), then draing (testing for TDS, total dissolved solids) and discarding the water, and repeating the soaking and draining cycle 8 times or more until the TDS of the drained water is consistently under 60-70 ppm (parts per million), preferably around 50 ppm or lower (which is about equivalent to what sphagnum peat moss contributes in soluble material to the water in the growing medium). The water in the last few cycles should be distilled, rain water or reverse osmosis water to obtain a dependable TDS reading. Initially, in all 4 brands of compressed coir block I have tried, the TDS (total dissolved solids, as measured with a TDS meter such as the H-M Digital TDS-EZ, about $15.00 U.S.) of the drained water from the first soaking of the coir was over 1000 ppm, and sometimes over 1500 ppm, when the ppm we're seeking is ideally under 50.

Edited by xscd, 03 July 2011 - 17:06 PM.


#2 Peter Hewitt

 
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Posted 03 July 2011 - 16:28 PM

These are very interesting findings. I know from personal experience that Nepenthes can grow very well in Coir, but I thought it was lethal to Sarracenia and Flytraps. Unfortunately it would be a monumental task for me to soak and drain 100+kg of coir a number of times, which is the amount of peat I use at yearly plantings of Sarracenia and Dionaea.

#3 Simeth

 
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Posted 19 July 2011 - 19:15 PM

Hi xscd!
I'm so happy to see another grower to use an sustainable alternative for substrate!
I grow from two years all my carnivorous plants (sarracenia, cephalotus, roridula and drosera) with coconout peat, with good results.

Some photos:
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#4 FlytrapRanch

 
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Posted 19 July 2011 - 19:26 PM

Those are beautiful photos and very healthy-looking plants, Simeth. :thumbsup:

So far, in addition to Venus Flytraps, it appears in my own experience that Cephalotus likes or possibly even prefers a well-balanced sphagnum-free coir mix. I'm also happy that an alternative or substitute for sphagnum peat moss exists and works well for at least some carnivorous plants. :smile:

Edited by xscd, 19 July 2011 - 19:27 PM.


#5 mobile

 
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Posted 20 July 2011 - 06:49 AM

It could be coincidence, but when I re-potted a healthy Heliamphora in a mix containing primarily coir the plant died pretty fast. I hadn't soaked the coir, as I believe that it had been fresh water flushed but maybe I will try soaking it next time. Has anyone had any success growing Heliamphora in coir?

An alternative that I have tried is to use rockwool cubes in mixes. I have used it successfully in a rockwool, peat, LECA mix for Heliamphora, unfortunately this is the same Heliamphora that I subsequently repotted in coir. I have just repotted a Heliamphora in a mix consisting of equal parts rockwool cubes, live Sphagnum moss and perlite but it's far too easy to say if it's successful.



#6 Simeth

 
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Posted 20 July 2011 - 09:27 AM

I don't grow Heliamphora, then I don't know if she like cocopeat. Maybe is it possible that coir was washed wit sea water, and the salts have she killed.
At this moment I'm trying also wit sawdust (from this year) wit S. psittacina and a Sarracenia hybrid.

#7 mobile

 
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Posted 20 July 2011 - 09:41 AM

I don't grow Heliamphora, then I don't know if she like cocopeat. Maybe is it possible that coir was washed wit sea water, and the salts have she killed.
At this moment I'm trying also wit sawdust (from this year) wit S. psittacina and a Sarracenia hybrid.

No, the coir was marketed as being fresh water washed. I tried a Cephalotus in sawdust last year and the sawdust rotted, killing the plant. It was pine sawdust so perhaps a hardwood would be better?

#8 Simeth

 
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Posted 20 July 2011 - 10:07 AM

I don't know. I'm trying wit a sawdust buy from a Pet's shop (I think she was from maple).

That is the results from this first year:

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#9 FlytrapRanch

 
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Posted 20 July 2011 - 13:37 PM

mobile wrote: "the coir was marketed as being fresh water washed."

That's just marketing talk. Although it may not be a downright lie (see below), it is far from the whole truth and does little to remove accumulated soluble material from coir (coconut husk pith). "Fresh water washed" coir usually simply means that the huge mountain of coir "dust" waste product from the coconut fiber extraction industry, often processed with sea water, has been subjected to rain during one or more monsoon seasons. Although such coir is probably OK when used as a relatively minor ingredient in an amended or conditioned soil, for most plants and vegetables that are not particularly sensitive to mineral salts anyway, it can be deadly when used as a primary ingredient in a growing mix for plants that are sensitive to dissolved solids.

To test this assertion for yourself, take some "fresh water rinsed" coir, put it in a container, and fill the container with distilled water until the water just barely covers the top of the coir. Then let it soak in that water for 10 hours or more. Then drain the water and use a cheap TDS meter (HM-Digital TDS-EZ costs only about $15.00 U.S.) to measure the TDS in the drained water. You may be shocked to learn (I know I was) that the TDS of the drained water is (in many cases) over 1500 parts per million (when ideally it should be less than 80 or even 50 parts per million for most carnivorous plants).

I have tried several different brands of coir, most of which are exactly the same material, possibly even from the same large "mountain" of discarded "coir dust" in Sri Lanka or some other location in or near India or (now) Brazil, with just a different brand label stuck to the shrinkwrap over the same brick or block of compressed coir.

Each brand, with its own marketing language, touts their coir as being safe for plants, having been either "pre-rinsed," "washed with fresh water" or some other such language, which as I mentioned usually means it was merely rained on for a season or so (one company even said exactly that: that although processed with sea water, the coir had been subjected to the monsoon rains of at least one and usually more seasons). However, all that marketing hype aside, all of the different brands of coir I tried have had about the same very, very high TDS content until I carefully and methodically desalinated it myself.

So, as always, caveat emptor ("Buyer, beware!"). :thumbsup:

Edited by xscd, 20 July 2011 - 19:04 PM.


#10 petesredtraps

 
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Posted 20 July 2011 - 18:36 PM

Has anyone had any experience with this one http://www.canna-uk.com/coco_50l_bags

#11 Simeth

 
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Posted 21 July 2011 - 17:22 PM

Has anyone had any experience with this one http://www.canna-uk.com/coco_50l_bags


I don't know this product. I use the coir from Kokofina:
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#12 mobile

 
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Posted 21 July 2011 - 17:29 PM

Has anyone had any experience with this one http://www.canna-uk.com/coco_50l_bags

It's a well respected brand in the world of hydroponics. I have never used it for CPs myself, but it has been used for Cephalotus by others: http://www.foxoles.d...otusfollil.html

This one looks possibly interesting for Nepenthes growing, as it has added coco chips: http://www.growell.c...k-coir-mix.html

#13 Davion

 
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Posted 24 August 2011 - 15:49 PM

"I"-Was 'Surprised' to-Learn R-Few-Nights-R-Go THART Our Fellow-Colleagues IN The-HOME-Mushroom Industry Talk-ABART Two-Lines-of-COIR as-if 'Success'-&-Failure for-Them is-Set IN-Stone so-to-Speak. >(*~*)<


'Apparently' ... They-Buy Their-COIR From Pet-Stores &-'Not'-From Garden-Centres ... Because The Pet-Store Variety Is-'Not' Pre-LACED with TRICHODERMA ... Which-Is 'Apparently' The-SCOURGE-of The HOME-Mushy-Industry so-to-Speak &-Extremely-'HARD' to-Get-Rid-of Once an-Area Has-Been 'Contaminated' so-to-Speak!!!??? >(*~*)< / >(*U^)<

THIS-Information 'Made'-My Ears Prick-UP ... Because as-You ALL-'Know' TRICHODERMA Has-Been Tauted Over-The-Last-Decade or-So as-Being The BEES-Knees of UP-&-Coming CP-Horticulture so-to-Speak!!!??? >(*~*)< / >(*U^)<

Over-IN-India They 'Grow'-UP TRICHODERMA IN-'Sealed'-Bags of Used-COFFEE-Fines Until The Bags-GO R-'Nice' SAGE-Green so-to-Speak.

One-'Now' Has-to-Wonders Whether-or-'Not' All The Perlava of nearly 15-Years-R-Go Over so-Called Bot-'TANNIC'-Teas &-The-Like Was as-R Result-of Misguided Enthusiasm or is IN-Fact R-Cover-Story Using Decoy-Misinformation so-to-Speak!!!??? >(*~*)< / >(*U^)<

#14 Davion

 
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Posted 24 August 2011 - 16:09 PM

Again ... The-Above-Information Came-On The Shirt-Tails of-R Publication "I"-'Found' ON-Line Regarding R 1885-Meeting of The Elisha-Mitchell Society IN-America IE 20-Years After The-Civil-War so-to-Speak Where-They Were Referring-to R-Publication by-CURTIS IN-1834. Now "I"-Couldn't-Work-OUT From The-Cached-Copy "I"-was Viewing Whether The-Refference Was From The 1885-Meeting or From The 1834-Published-Pamphlet But-Apparently Some-Bloke Whose-Name "I"-Pushed-through My Facebook Website Mentioned THART @-The-Time Either 1885 or 1834 There-Were "ENORMOUS" (Quote >>> His-Word) Venus-Flytraps Growing Down-IN-FLORIDA!!!>(*~*)< / >(*~*)< YES ... FLORIDA!!!


Now The-'Same'-Bloke as-In My-Above-Post Talks-ABART R-Man Going-About Scattering Venus-Flytrap-Seeds From The Early 19th-Century ... "I"-Now-'Wonder' Whether-or-'Not' THIS-Is 'Just'-R-Similar 'Cover'-Story to-Allow Removal-of-Plants From The Florida-Region @-Bargain-Basement-Prices to-the-Vendor so-to-Speak!!!??? >(*~*)< / >(*U^)<

Afteral ... Donald-E-SCHNELL Put-UP R-Pretty-Good Arguement IN-His SECOND-Book That The-Populations IN-Florida R-IN-Fact Remnants-of-R-Much Wider Spread of The Genus Pre-Iceage so-to-Speak ... Spread Most-likely By Migatory-Birds ... R-Mode Most-Apply Heralded by-DARWIN Nearly R-Century-&-R-Half R-Go so-to-Speak!!!??? >(*~*)<