Coco Coir vs Soil: Which is Better for Growing Cannabis?

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When it comes to growing marijuana, different growers have different styles, tastes and preferences. Some growers like to grow their weed outdoors in the nature under the open blue skies and the sunlight, while there are others who prefer having a little more control over the weed that they are growing and like to grow it in a more controlled environment indoors. However, some growers tend to grow their marijuana without using soil – this can be done via a method of growing called hydroponics where soil as a medium can be completely replaced. Coco Coir is one popular alternative.

Over the course of this article, we try and understand the difference between Coco Coir vs Soil. We also take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of using each of them, as well as a look at some of the best coco coir that  you can buy online, as well as the best soil that you can buy online. We also attempt at answering some of the most frequently asked questions about coco coir vs soil so that you get a much clearer picture of the differences between the two and you can gauge for yourself which is the better option for you.

However, before all that, let us first start at the basics: understanding the concept of hydroponics. 

Coco Coir vs Soil: Understanding Hydroponics

In order to understand the debate between Coco Coir vs Soil, you need to what hydroponics is. Hydroponics is basically the art of growing a plant (it can be any plant, not necessarily marijuana) without using soil as a medium. As well know, a medium is essential for growth, but in hydroponics, soil is replaced by other things such as a rockwool cube, or in this case – coco coir. 

Hydroponics as a means of growing plants has been around for thousands of years. It ensures that the water and the nutrients that a grower is providing the plants reach the roots faster without the use of soil. The first popular historic instance of hydroponics can be seen in the hanging gardens of Babylon. Hydroponics continues to evolve as technology evolves with the progress of time and is today carried out in special hydroponic sets where it has now become very easy for growers to set up their own hydroponic systems. Coco Coir is one of the most popular soil alternatives among growers who wish to grow their weed hydroponically. Here’s a closer look at understanding what this medium is and what its advantages/disadvantages are.

What is Coco Coir?

A coco coir is basically a medium for the hydroponic growth of plants made using coconut husk. Traditionally when coconuts were grown, the pulp and the juice would be taken as the primary products but the husk around it was seen as a waste material. Over time, however, this outlook towards coconut husk has changed and people have now begun to understand that this is a very important product for those who might want to use it for gardening purposes. 

Basically, coco coir is everything that comes between the soft brown edible exterior of the coconut to the extreme outer edge that is the husk. White fibers and brown fibers together form what is known as coco coir, When coconuts are fully mature, the fiber turns brown. This is very strong but not so flexible and the reverse is true for white fiber, which comes from premature or maturing coconuts. It is not as strong as the brown fiber but is quite flexible. However, for this very specific purpose of using coco coir as a hydroponic medium, it is usually the brown fiber that is preferred by growers. 

For those who are wondering how this coco coir is actually prepared, it goes through quite a bit of a processing before it is ready for supporting hydroponic growth. The husk is first soaked in water along with the coconut so that it becomes soft, it is then removed from the coconut and dried for almost a year following which the coir is organized in bales and separated based on the different types of fibers. 

Benefits of Growing Marijuana in Coco Coir

  • Growing your weed in coco coir instead of soil provides a lot of room for the roots to grow. This is because it is much looser in comparison and can retain more water, has a better drainage system, as well as is more aerated compared to soil because it isn’t as compact. Air is great for the growth and development of roots.
  • One of the biggest advantages of using coco coir is that it has anti-pathogen properties, meaning that it does not allow pests and diseases to enter the plants via the roots, ensuring that your plants are much more secure against any pest-related damage. Hence, when you look at coco coir vs soil, coir has a considerable advantage in this front!
  • Since the nutrients reach the plants much faster when you are growing them hydroponically, coco coir helps them grow faster and also provides higher yields. This is because the plant has to spend way lesser time searching for nutrients because they get them directly.
  • Another great thing about using coco coir is that it since it comes from coconuts, which are in abundance all around the earth, and that coco coir is formed out of the ‘waste’ product of the coconut, it does not damage the environment. Furthermore, if you treat it right, it is even a reusable product which you can use to grow your next cycle of marijuana plants on!

Disadvantages of Growing Marijuana in Coco Coir

  • One problem with using coco coir is that sometimes it might contain a higher value of salts than you’d ideally want it to. As we mentioned above in how coco coir is prepared, it needs to be soaked in water. If it was soaked in salt water, the salt content in the end product might be higher which might not be as suitable for your plants. 
  • Another drawback of using coco coir to grow marijuana is that sometimes it can actually block certain nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and iron. Hence, when you are using coco coir to grow your marijuana, you would need to provide it with a nutrient that is specifically built for coco coir and not a regular nutrient. This gives soil an edge in the coco coir vs soil comparison. 
  • Lastly, sometimes after the drying process, the bales of coco coir are treated with chemical to ensure that there are no salts left. You need to ensure what kind of chemicals were used to treat it and that there is no residue of those chemicals left lingering around in the coco coir that you are planning to use for growing weed else it might end up damaging the plants.

What is Soil?

Soil, as a medium, is one of the most important things for growers who do not want to grow their plants via hydroponics. While the technique of growing your plants hydroponically is a smart one, it is both, expensive as well as complex and is something that beginners would tend to avoid. Soil is something that everyone is familiar with. The real thing that growers need to know about soil for growing marijuana is how to choose the best type of soil.

A good soil for growing marijuana can be adjudged by three main characteristics: texture, water retention and drainage. It should have a good texture, i.e., it should be loose. Getting soil that is too tight or too loose in texture would be counterproductive for the growth of the plant. The second characteristic is water retention, which means that the soil should have a decent capacity to carry some amount of water which the plants can then consume. This is important because nutrients are mixed in water and this is how plants get a lot of energy that they need to grow. Lastly, there needs to be a proper drainage system, i.e. the soil should allow the excess water to go out easily because if that does not happen, it might end up damaging the plant.

Soil is a well-known medium otherwise and it would be easier to understand it via its benefits and drawbacks which are discussed below:

Benefits of Growing Marijuana in Soil

  • One of the biggest advantages of using soil to grow marijuana is the simple fact that it is much easier to do so when compared to growing weed hydroponically. This gives soil an edge in coco coir vs soil comparison. Hydroponics is not that easy to do and it is also quite expensive to set up. Soil, however, is very easy to obtain and has a minimal cost associated with it. Hence, many growers prefer growing in soil.
  • Another great thing about growing your marijuana in soil is that it ensures that there’s enough bacteria and fungi present which are good for the growth of your plant. Soil has naturally occurring bacteria such as rhizobacteria (PGPR) which help in various aspects such as synthesis of compounds, as well as help fight any soil-borne diseases. Furthermore, there are certain beneficial fungi that also grow in the soil such as Mycorrhizal (AM) fungus, which help increase the soil’s resistance towards drought and help break organic matter.
  • Growing your marijuana in soil has another benefit in the form of higher terpene content. Know that distinct smell that weed has? Terpenes are responsible for that. However, they also provide a distinct flavour to the buds that grow which might be lacking if you grow your weed hydroponically. 

Disadvantages of Growing Marijuana in Soil

  • A major disadvantage that soil has against coco coir is that soil can carry a lot more pests and insects than coco coir. Hence, when you are choosing which soil you are going to buy to grow your marijuana in, you need to know the source from where it is coming from, as well as ensuring that it is pest-free.
  • One of the disadvantages that soil has against coco coir is the fact that soil is much heavier in weight. Basically, coco coir is all loose and lightweight but soil actually carries weight and it becomes even heavier when you add water, making it difficult to move around plants after you water them.  
  • Growing your weed in soil needs more water than growing it via coco coir. Hydroponic growth ensures that water goes directly to the roots and hence a lot less water is needed there. However, with soil you need to ensure that water goes far and deep and hence it needs more water. However, don’t put too much water in the soil or else you might end up drowning your plant. 

Now that you understand the benefits and drawbacks of growing your marijuana in soil as well as coco coir, let us take a closer look at which are some of the best coco coir for growing marijuana and the best soil for growing marijuana that you can buy off the internet right now!

Best Coco Coir for Growing Marijuana

#1. Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber Growing Medium 10 Lbs. Block

One of the best options that you have when you are looking forward to buying coco coir online for growing marijuana indoors. This is a 10lbs package of coco coir, and growing your weed using this will ensure that your plants are getting enough space to grow in, moreover, their roots can grow faster and stronger while getting enough space to breathe. The pH value of this product is between 5.2 to 6.8 which is ‘neutral’ making it great to grow marijuana in. 

This is a top choice among those looking forward to buying the best coco coir for growing marijuana indoors. Moreover, this is recyclable and even reusable. Growing your weed in coco coir is also great for fighting against pests and insects that might end up damaging the plant. Furthermore, this package of coco coir also carries certain nutrients and bio-stimulants mixed in the coir. When you use it for growing weed, make sure you buy the right kind of coco coir-friendly nutrients!

#2. Plantonix Coco Coir Brick, OMRI listed for Organic Use (5 Bricks)

This is a pack of 5 bricks of coco coir for growing your marijuana in. Each of these bricks weighs 1.4 lbs and this ensures that you do not have to prepare your coco coir from a package into sets of bricks because it is already done for you! The EC and pH levels are controlled here and this brick contains only Pith and Fibers. The manufacturer has also assured that the salt content is pretty low in these coco coirs which ensures that the water can travel freely and the plants can grow well.

This is an easy-to-hydrate coir and can also be reused after the current growth cycle is over. One instruction from Plantonix is that before you begin using these bricks to grow your weed in, you need to add water to them and keep them that way for at least an hour before you begin. Overall, this is a great option for those looking forward to buying coco coir for growing marijuana. 

#3. Mother Earth Coco Plus Perlite Mix | 50L | RHP Certified Natural Plant Growth Media

This is a Coco Coir Plus Perlite mix which is basically 70% coco coir and 30% perlite which gives the growers a good growing alternative to soil. This ensures that the plants are well aerated, giving them a good room to breathe, as well as have a good drainage system. Using this to grow your marijuana plants will ensure that your plants are getting a good growth rate as well as are free of pests and diseases. 

The coco coir that comes with this package is 100% clean and carries 0PPM. There’s however some peat mixed in it and the growers need to be aware of that. The packaging and the quality of the coco fiber that you get is really good and pretty much every buyer has appreciated that in their review. One of the best coco coir for growing cannabis. 

Best Soil for Growing Marijuana

#1. FoxFarm FX14047 (2 Cubic Feet) Happy Frog Potting Soil

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A good choice for those looking forward to buying the best soil for growing marijuana, FoxFarm FX14047 offers the growers with the confidence of using a highly trusted brand. The soil comes pre-packaged with the best combination of bacteria and fungi which are good for the growth of your plants. Moreover, it also includes forest humus and earthworm castings which make sure that the quality of the soil is good. 

Growing your marijuana in this soil will ensure that the flowers and buds grow well and grow strong. The texture of the soil is light, which makes it just perfect for growing weed. Another good thing about most FoxFarm soils is that they come with good aeration, which is something that is usually the property of a hydroponic medium. However, these soils provide enough room for the roots to get air thereby making it a top pick in the markets. 

#2. FoxFarm FX14100 Coco Loco Potting Mix, 2 Cubic Feet, Brown/A

Yet another product from FoxFarm, this is the Coco Loco potting mix, which is another good option for growers looking forward to grow their weed in soil. This is particularly a good option for those growers who are looking forward to growing right from the seed stage as this soil does not get too hot. Those who have been growing for a long time recommend that growers use a 50:50 mix of the Coco Loco soil along with the Happy Frog potting soil mentioned above to get optimal growth results.

One of the best things about this soil is that it can easily hold water more than its own weight and yet provide for proper drainage. This operates at lower humidity levels therefore ensuring that there is no mold or root rot which are often common problems when you grow your weed in soil. This is a 2 cubic foot bag. 

#3. Super Soil Organic Concentrate

This is a super soil manufactured by Nature’s Living Soil, and using this means that you do not need to add any extra or additional fertilizers, thanks to the large number of microorganisms present in the soil which have been added to ensure that the plants get everything that they need directly from the soil. These microorganisms will begin producing the compounds once you add water to the mix. 

However, since this is a concentrated super soil, you will need to add some potting soil to the mix, and we yet again recommend the Happy Frog potting soil. Growers need to know that when you open the packaging there will be a very strong smell which is because of the microorganisms present in the mix. However, the smell is expected and there’s nothing unusual about it. The smell dissipates when you mix it with the potting soil. All in all, one of the best soil for growing marijuana. 

Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs About Coco Coir vs Soil for Growing Marijuana

#1. What are the different types of coco coir?

For those wondering how many different kinds of coco coir there are, there are three: 

  • Coco Peat: Also known as coco pith, this is basically the ‘peat’ of the coir, and when you look at it for the first time, it looks like finely grounded peat moss. It is very small and very absorbent and almost never used just by itself for the purposes of hydroponic growth. It is because of this absorbent nature and loose existence that if you choose only peat as your medium, you are likely to end up drowning your roots if you are not very careful!
  • Coco Fiber: This is the most popular type of coco coir that is used in the markets as coco fiber is basically made up of the coconut hair that allows it to be quite airy and ensures that there’s enough supply of air flowing through the medium. It is not as absorbent as coco peat, thereby making sure that you are getting enough water but not so much that it drowns the roots. However, there’s a risk of them breaking down frequently.
  • Coco Chips: These are basically chips of the coconut shell and husk and you can consider them to be a cross between coco peat and coco fiber, being airy as well as absorbent. These are made of plant matter and not clay and are a 100% organic way of growing your marijuana plant hydroponically. 

#2. What nutrients are needed along with coco coir?

When you are growing your marijuana in coco coir, you need to know that sometimes the coir might prevent calcium, magnesium and iron. Hence, you would require a set of coco coir specific nutrients which would ensure that these essential nutrients are able to flow through the coir into your roots. 

#3. How to choose the best coco coir for growing your plants?

There are only a few things that you need to consider. First off, always check the salt content in the coco coir that you are buying. Sometimes, the salt content in the coir can be so high that it ends up damaging your plants or blocks the flow of nutrients. Second thing that you need to check is that there are no impurities along with the coco coir. Thirdly, it would also be great if you know how the coco coir has been processed and if there are any traces of chemicals still left in it. You can contact the manufacturer and check this because chemical traces can actually damage your plants. Lastly, you also need to consider the price but most coco coir isn’t really that expensive anyway.

#4. How to choose the best soil for growing your plants?

In order to choose the best soil for growing your plants you need to make sure that the texture isn’t too tight or too compact because that would hinder the flow of water and nutrients and won’t allow the roots to aerate properly. Soil should be loose but not too loose either because that can end up drowning your roots if excess water flows through. The soil should drain well and the soil of your choice should be absorbent enough to store a decent amount of water in it.

Conclusion

We hope that this article helped you gain a better perspective on coco coir vs soil and helped you determine which medium do you want to use to grow your plants in. We have also tried to give an insight into things that you need to consider in coco coir and soil before you buy them, as well as provided you with the best buying options for coco coir as well as soil so that you can make a better, well-informed choice in deciding between coco coir vs soil. 

Happy Growing! 🙂