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

Last Updated on December, 2023 by Rob Wilson

If you’re interested in growing marijuana, you’ll want to know that there are dozens of different types of growers and styles, preferences, and tastes. Whereas one weed grower may enjoy cultivating their crop outdoors, another may prefer having as much control as possible over their plants. Others still prefer to grow their marijuana in the absence of soil by using hydroponics, or by using coco coir. This brings us to the crux of today’s article: growing in coco vs soil and dedication which one works best for your weed-growing needs. We’ve put together a list of the best coco for weed-growing to include the Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber Growing Medium and the Platonix Coco Coir Brick, as well as the best soil for growing marijuana including the FoxFarm FX14047 Happy Frog Potting Soil, the FoxFarm FX14100 Coco Loco Potting Mix, and the Super Soil Organic Concentrate.

Specifically, we’re going to break down the biggest differences growers like you should know when it comes to working with soil vs coco. Additionally, we’ll talk a bit about the biggest pros and cons that come with each option, as well as some of the best coco coir for weed that you can use in 2023. Finally, we’ll provide some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that we get about coco vs soil. Before we get into our actual product review, though, let’s take a second to explain the basics and break down the concept of hydroponics.

Soil vs Coco: Breaking Down Hydroponics

The debate surrounding growing cannabis in coco coir vs soil is difficult to understand if you don’t know anything about hydroponics. For all intents and purposes, hydroponics refers to a method of growing that doesn’t rely on soil as a medium. In case you don’t already know, growers need a medium in order to reap a bountiful harvest of high-quality crops. Hydroponics uses mediums such as coco coir or rockwool cubes rather than soil to produce marijuana plants.

People have been using hydroponics to grow all kinds of crops for thousands of years. With hydroponics, growers can rest assured that their water and nutrients are reaching the roots of their plants faster than they otherwise would with soil. The use of hydroponics dates back to the days of ancient Babylon and its famous hanging gardens, and growers continue to discover new ways to use hydroponics thanks to modern technology. Hydroponics’ popularity is a big reason for the ongoing debate surrounding growing in coco vs soil.

What is Coco Coir?

Growers use coco coir as a medium when using hydroponic methods to grow their plants. Traditionally, growers would take the juice and pulp of fully-grown coconuts and use them as part of their cultivation method. Over time, people have begun to realize that the husk of a coconut is also a valuable material and shouldn’t be seen as a waste – coconut husks are, in fact, incredibly important for people who are interested in gardening.
Coco coir, specifically, is all of the stuff you find between a coconut’s soft exterior and the extreme outer edge that we call its husk. Coco coir is the result of a coconut’s white and brown fibers tangling up, and when coconuts mature, their fibers turn brown and strong. In the particular context of a coco coir outdoor grow operation, growers typically prefer a coconut’s browner and stronger fibers.

To prepare the coco coir that we’ve described above, you’ll need to go through your fair share of processing before you can use it to support your aspirations of growing in coco coir vs soil. To start, you’ll need to first soak your coconut husk in some water along with the coconut itself. Doing so will soften your husk and allow you to remove it, after which you’ll need to dry it for about one year. Finally, once the coconut husk is dried, the coir is organized in bales and separated based on its different fiber types.

Benefits of Growing Cannabis in Coco Coir vs Soil

  • Growing your marijuana plants in coco vs soil gives your plants plenty of room for their roots to grow as much as possible. When it comes to soil vs coco in terms of growing weed, you’ll want something with a good drainage system – coco coir is looser compared to soil and can therefore retain more water, making it an excellent drainage system.
  • Coco coir has tons of anti-pathogen properties, which help growers keep pests and diseases at bay. Soil doesn’t offer any of these anti-pathogen properties, and growing in soil may make it easier for pests and diseases to enter your plants via their roots.
  • Nutrients reach your plants much more quickly when you use a hydroponic method, and coco coir helps your plants grow even faster. Using the best coco for weed you grow hydroponically means you can look forward to amazing yields and fast-growing plants
  • Additionally, since coco coir comes from coconuts, you can remain environmentally conscious by using a product that does not damage the environment. If you treat your coco coir well, you can look forward to it being a reusable product that you can use during your next grow cycle.

Cons of Growing in Coco Coir Vs Soil

  • Growing your marijuana with coco coir means that you may sometimes need to contend with a higher level of salts than you’d otherwise want. Coco coir is soaked in water as it’s prepared and may have a salt content that isn’t conducive to growing in coco coir vs soil.
  • Using coco coir to grow marijuana means that you may be preventing certain nutrients like magnesium and calcium from reaching your plants. When you use soil vs coco to grow your marijuana plants, you need to use a nutrient that’s specifically made for coco coir rather than regular nutrients. Doing so gives the soil the edge in this case.
  • Once their drying process is complete, coco coir bales are chemically treated to eliminate their salt content. It’s important to know which chemicals were used to treat your coco coir bales and ensure there is no residue of chemicals left lingering around.

What is Soil?

Soil is a medium and is one of the most important things to know about if you’re not using a hydroponics method of growing. Good soil for growing marijuana has main characteristics: texture, water retention, and drainage. Soil that is too tight or too loose makes it tougher to grow your plants. With water retention, soil can carry lots of water for your plants to consume. This is important because nutrients are mixed in water and this is how plants get most of the energy that they need to grow. Lastly, there needs to be a proper drainage system, otherwise, your plants may get damaged.

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

Pros of growing cannabis in soil vs coco

  • Using soil to grow marijuana is much easier compared to growing weed hydroponically. This gives soil an edge in the coco vs soil comparison. Hydroponics is not that easy to do and it is also quite expensive to set up. Soil, however, is easy to obtain and has a typically low cost associated with it.
  • Another great thing about growing marijuana in the soil is that your plants get the bacteria and fungi they need to grow healthily. Soil has naturally occurring bacteria such as rhizobacteria (PGPR) which help with the synthesis of compounds and with the fight against any soil-borne diseases.
  • Growing your marijuana in soil vs coco 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 flavor to the buds that grow which might be lacking if you grow your weed hydroponically.

Cons of growing cannabis in soil vs coco

  • A major disadvantage that comes with using soil is running the risk of having pests and insects disrupt your plants’ growth. When you choose a soil to use, you need to make sure you know the source you’re getting your soil from to help avoid problems.
  • Another disadvantage is the fact that soil is much heavier than coco coir. Whereas coco coir is loose and lightweight, soil starts heavy and gets even heavier when it’s moist.
  • Growing your weed in soil requires more water, and you’ll need to ensure that your water travels deep enough to reach your plants’ roots.

Now that we’ve introduced the pros and cons when it comes to growing in coco vs soil, let’s talk about some of the best coco coir for weed that you should consider using when growing marijuana

The Best Coco for Weed-Growing

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

Finding the right growing medium for healthy plants can be a serious challenge without prior experience. Traditional soil mixes are heavy and don’t aerate properly, which can lead to root rot and poor growth for your marijuana plants. With the Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber Growing Medium, however, you can avoid these issues and look forward to bigger yields.

The Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber Growing Medium is made of compressed fibers and is lightweight and well-draining. It retains high volumes of moisture, making it an excellent and essential component of your plants’ hydration system. Additionally, this product is free of potentially harmful chemicals and pathogens to ensure a safer environment for your plants.

After having used the Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber Growing Medium, we’re confident in saying that its 10-pound format was our favorite part. The black format expands to immense volumes when hydrated, and its fibers can be easily rehydrated and broken apart to create a texture that is ideal for healthy root growth. We also found this product’s natural pH balance, found in its fibers, to be ideal for a wide range of plants in terms of healthy, sustained growth.

This product found itself at the top of this list, making it our choice for the best coco for weed as of 2023. The Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber is perfect for growers who want to avoid frustratingly heavy and compacted soil while making the most of a medium with good drainage and water retention.

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

Heavy and complicated soils can hinder your plants’ growth and promote poor drainage and root rot. With the Plantonix Coco Coir Brick, growers of all experience levels can easily take advantage of more effective drainage and delivery of nutrients to their plants.

The Plantonix Coco Coir Brick’s exceptional quality and organic composition make it easy to see why many growers skew in favor of coco vs soil when it comes to growing mediums. This brick is made from premium fibers that offer exceptional water retention and drainage, ensuring your plants stay perfectly aerated and hydrated. The OMRI listing guarantees that the product is approved for organic use, which also should provide peace of mind for environmentally-conscious growers.

We were particularly impressed with the performance of the Platonix Coco Coir Brick, and we appreciated the convenience of the 5 bricks pack (this is ideal for anyone who is using a lot of coco coir. We found the bricks easy to store and super compact and noticed a quick improvement in our plants’ resistance to disease and pests.

Although it comes in second in this list, the Platonix Coco Coir Brick is still a top choice for the best coco coir for weed growers and gardening enthusiasts. With its convenience, effectiveness, and environmental certifications, this coco coir brick is a must-have for any gardener looking to elevate their gardening experience.

Best Soil for Growing Marijuana

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

For growers that are interested in sticking with soil vs coco, it’s important to stick with a trusted brand over anything else. The FoxFarm FX14047 Happy Frog Potting Soil is so good that we could probably write an article about the entire market for coco loco vs Happy Frog, but we’re not exactly sure how many people would read it.

This soil from FoxFarm comes pre-packaged with an incredible combination of fungi and bacteria that promote proper plant growth and health. The FoxFarm FX14047 Potting Soil also comes with high-quality forest humus and earthworm casting that maintain the soil’s quality.

Whenever we give new soils a shot, we look to look for flowers and buds that quickly grow into strong plants. This soil is perfect for growing weed and is super light, which also helps with your plants’ aeration (something that’s usually part of hydroponics). For us, the FoxFarm FX14047 Happy Frog Potting Soil proved why choosing a side when it comes to the coco loco vs Happy Frog debate isn’t that difficult for lots of people: Happy Frog gives them enough of what they want to make it a top pick on the market.

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

We have a back-to-back superstar coco loco soil review with FoxFarm; their FoxFarm FX14100 Coco Loco Potting Mix is the exact answer plenty of growers have been looking for a way to grow their weed right from the seed stage.

The FoxFarm FX14100 Coco Loco Potting Mix is designed to achieve optimal growth results when used with a 50:50 mix of the Coco Loco soil along with the Happy Frog potting soil. This potting mix doesn’t get overly hot and makes it easy for growers to get growing right from the seed stage as a result.

This mini coco loco soil review’s main takeaway is that the FoxFarm FX14100 Coco Loco Potting Mix eliminates all the biggest problems for people using soil vs coco: it operates at lower humidity levels, preventing mold and root rot which commonly occur for people growing weed in soil, and it provides adequate drainage without getting too hot.

#3. Super Soil Organic Concentrate

For the last spot on our list of alternatives to a coco coir outdoor grow, we decided to go back to our roots and trust a product with a reliable brand name. The Super Soil Organic Concentrate is manufactured by Nature’s Living Soil, a brand that’s known to add extra microorganisms to promote better plant growth.

This is a super soil whose microorganisms have been added to ensure that your plants get everything they need directly from the soil. The microorganisms present in the Super Soil Organic Concentrate will begin producing the compounds necessary for healthy plant growth after the water has been added to your mix.

We’re not ashamed to say that we yet again recommend Happy Frog potting soil and throw our hat in the ring in the coco loco vs happy frog debate – this time in favor of Happy Frog. Because of the potency of the Super Soil Organic Concentrate mix, growers should expect a strong smell once they open their product’s packaging. The smell, however, dissipates when you mix it with the potting soil. All of this is to say that, all in all, this is one of the best soils for growing marijuana.

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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 WHEN GROWING IN COCO COIR VS SOIL?

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 DO YOU CHOOSE THE BEST COCO FOR WEED?

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.

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Coco Coir Vs Soil: The Final Say

We hope you gained a greater perspective on coco vs soil and that helped you determine which medium 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 the soil so that you can make a better, well-informed choice in deciding between coco coir vs soil.

Happy Growing! 🙂

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  • Rob Wilson

    Rob Wilson is a maverick horticulturist and alchemist of the herbal world. With an uncanny green thumb and a passion for unlocking the secrets of cannabis cultivation and processing, he blends science and artistry to orchestrate nature's most intricate symphony. Rob's journey is an odyssey of coaxing delicate trichomes and potent terpenes into harmonious existence. When not lost in his garden, he's a devoted educator, guiding fellow enthusiasts through the verdant realms of cannabis cultivation.