What’s better – growing in soil or growing in coco coir? The answer might surprise you. This question seems to be common among new growers. In order to determine if soil is better than coco coir or vice versa, we need to understand the pros and cons of each growing medium.
Let’s start with soil. You may have once heard that soil is better for beginner growers. Right? I can’t say that I agree with that entirely. Don’t get me wrong – soil has its benefits. One of the major benefits of growing in soil is that some bags of soil already have nutrients in it. For example, Fox Farm Ocean Forest soil has enough nutrients in it for your plant to grow for the first 20-30 days. Therefore, you only need to give the plant plain water for the first 30 days or so of its life. After those first 20-30 days, the plant will have used up the nutrients in the medium and it will then of course need more nutrients. Coco coir comes in bricks as well as pre-mixed bags. Some of the pre-mixed bags have nutrients in it but typically it’s only enough for your plant to sprout and last a handful of days. Due to this, you’ll most likely spend more money on nutrients. You will also certainly need to dedicate more time to mixing nutrients when growing in coco coir as well.
There is some risk buying soils that are pre-charged with nutrients though. Some soils come extremely “hot” and will burn your plants. When I say hot, I’m not talking about the temperature. I’m talking about there being too many nutrients within that soil which can result in nutrient burn on the plant. How big is that risk? Not that big to be honest but it is something to keep in mind. With pre-mixed bags of coco coir, you really don’t have to worry about burning your plant. Now with bricks of coco coir, you will need to flush the bricks prior to using them. Bricks of coco coir have salts in them which isn’t good for growing cannabis. The flushing process can certainly be very time consuming.
Another benefit of soil is that it holds water really well. This means that you won’t need to water as often as you would if you were growing in coco coir. Instead of watering your plants every day or two (like you would have to for plants growing in coco coir), you can get away with watering your plants every 2, 3, maybe even 4 days. This is a plus for those of you who want to limit the amount of time you spend in your garden. The risk here is that it is very easy to over-water your plants since the medium is so dense. Roots can easily get choked up which can cause a stunt in growth and could even lead to root rot. With coco coir, it’s more difficult to over-water your plants since the medium is so airy. That’s the reason why when growing in coco coir you need to water more often – because the medium simply doesn’t hold water as well.
What about pH ranges? When growing in soil, a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0 is best for growing cannabis. When growing in coco coir, cannabis will grow in a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. I’ve heard people say that growing in one pH range is easier than the other. Does either pH range make the growing process easier? Nope, not really. When controlling pH, you can simply use a pH control kit. You’ll probably use a pH control kit when growing in either medium – so there’s no savings there.
A key thing to know about soil versus coco coir is that a soilless medium such as coco coir provides more air to the root zone. Soil, on the other hand, is a more dense medium and the plant’s roots don’t breathe as well. Why does this matter? Because a plant does need air down in the root zone and providing aeration in the root zone will lead to more vigorous growth. This is probably the main reason why so many people choose coco coir over soil.
Here are the top soil and coco coir products:
- FoxFarm Ocean Forest Soil
- FoxFarm Happy Frog Soil
- GROW!T Premium Coco Coir – Pre-mixed
- Nature’s Premium Coco Coir Brick
In conclusion, determining if soil or coco coir is better to grow in really depends on your personal goal. If you are looking to minimize time spent in the garden, soil is probably a better choice. You don’t have to water as often and most soils comes pre-charged with nutrients so you don’t need to spend as much time mixing nutrients. Downsides to growing in soil are how easy it is to over-water as well as the reduced aeration by the root zone. If your goal is overall growth and yield, then coco coir is probably a better choice for you since aeration achieved at the root zone leads to more vigorous growth and the potential for a higher yield. It’s also harder to over-water your plants. You will however need to spend more time watering, mixing nutrients, and flushing the medium prior to using (if buying bricks of coco coir). Which medium do you prefer to grow in and why? Let me know by leaving a comment below.