Coconut Mulch Pros and Cons for Planting: A Full Guide

Tight-budget gardeners have been scouring through all corners for a cheap, sustainable planting solution – and coconut mulches seem to tick all the boxes.

Nevertheless, these substances do have major flaws at the end of the day, prompting heated debates about whether they are truly the optimal farming choice for everyone.

Our team gladly joins the ongoing debate by offering further takes on the coconut mulch pros and cons. Keep scrolling!

What Are The Coconut Mulch Pros and Cons for Planting?

coconut mulch pros and cons
Coconut Mulch Pros and Cons for Planting

What does coco coir do for plants? 

They are cheap, easy to use, and speed up the nutrient-absorbing rate better than any medium you could find on the market.

However, their extremely limited accessibility in local stores and lack of critical nutrients might hold back some gardeners.

The Pros/ Coco Coir Benefits:


Its impressive sustainability has wowed even the pickiest gardener.

Unlike similar planting mediums, compost mulches are always open to all types of reuse and repurpose.

The beginning of these items comes from trash that has been transformed into something else: coconut husks, which people burn and discard after harvesting coconuts to sell in supermarkets.

With a few tweaks here and there, you can produce entirely new landscaping media using loose coco mulches.

And even when they are no longer used, decomposing these composts is a piece of cake without major environmental impacts.

The world has already been plagued with non-stop carbon problems; We must avoid using materials that cannot be recycled in order to reduce the amount of waste being produced!

Water Retention and Increased Aeration

Studies have introduced hundreds of concrete evidence for coconut’s aeration – which almost every plant needs.

Better yet, coconut mulches soak up water 10x their total weight at a startling rate, making them a terrific solution to use together with hydroponic systems.

Your plant roots will suck nutrients much faster than in regular soil mixes! 

As a result, barely any watering is required. Imagine how much money, time, and effort you could save in the long run.

Easy pH Usage, Few Issues

Impeccable pH neutrality is lauded as its biggest strength.

Sure, you can combine the mulches with other amendments for optimal effect, but using them straight is fine, too.

Quite a huge relief for confused beginners that knows nothing about what to mix and what not.

Their antifungal property comes as another unexpected bonus. Your garden will stay clear of disease problems and insects without much effort on your part!

It Barely Costs Anything

The total cost alone is a delight – almost nothing compared to other solutions, especially for people purchasing their compressed forms.

Soak them for a few minutes, and they can expand to double the original size! 

Hardly can we find such a lightweight, fantastic substrate within the same price range.

Various Options to Consider

Those who assume coconut mulches have no other varieties should take a second look: their diversities are enough to spin your head dizzy.

Take coco pith (or coconut peat moss), for example, whose absorbance can keep plant roots wet all year round.

Coco fibers pave the way for ample oxygen and superior aeration for the base, while coco chips work wonders when mixed with soil surface, creating air pockets to retain water.

Browse through these popular types for years, and you will still never run out of options.

The Cons of Coconut Coir

coco peat disadvantages
Disadvantage of Coconut Coir

Difficult to Find Locally

A universal complaint for fans of coconut mulches is how these products seem to mysteriously vanish from every local store and market.

Even our extensive research team struggled to find one or two bags at physical shops. After going home empty-handed, we had to buy them online.

Salt Problems

Not a very common issue in high-quality products, but still there nonetheless! 

Some gardeners report an excessive salt ratio in their gravel mulches. It deters/prevents water uptakes and causes hundreds of issues with nutrient absorption.

Getting rid of the salt is not impossible – but time-consuming and costs more than the product’s total upfront prices.

Further investigations have revealed the root cause of the dilemma: some brands rinse the brown coir in saltwater (instead of fresh water).

All the more reason to research the material distributors carefully before you throw away your hard-earned money! 

Remember to check online reviews, the brand’s fine print, and product descriptions. Call the seller if needed.

No Nutrient Content

Here comes the most controversial part of the coconut shell debate.

Yes, the mulches barely contain any added nutrients on their own – which disappoints many farmers who hope to purchase cheap, nutritious potting mediums.

More specifically, coconut mulches can by no means provide nutrition by themselves; you must combine them 50:50 with other soil mixtures.

Fertilizers are a must, too, unless you want the plants to suffer from severe fatigue and underfeeding problems.

Worse, some reports have mentioned the coir’s problematic tendency to hold off iron, magnesium, and calcium.

Its abnormal exchange in cation forces gardeners to find an additional formula – with higher-than-average ratios of the three substances mentioned above – to counterbalance the loss.

Some tender plants with low nutrient demands (ex: cactus) will certainly not be affected by this. However, we cannot say the same about other types of growth of plants! 

What Are Tips to Use Coconut Mulches Successfully? 

coconut for gardening
Tips to Use Coconut

Despite the coco peat disadvantages, we all concur that cocoa mulch is worth the investment (not that there’s much investment, anyway; they are that cheap!).

Here are small tips to guarantee proper application for this type of mulch:


Coir mulches are typically compressed bales or bricks. Soften these bricks by them in warm water for about 15 mins.

Remember to use a big container, since the bricks’ sizes will increase 5-7 times. Buckets might be great for bricks, but bales require something larger – garbage cans, wading pools, or wheelbarrows.


Applying coir pellets is not that different from reptile bark chip, or cypress mulches.

  • 2 to 3 inches of layer (5 – 7.6 cm) will be the best. But if you want thicker layers of these types of mulch to keep the weed growth within safe territories, go for it.
  • If the issues with weed seeds are more serious than expected, consider using barriers or landscape cloth under these organic materials.

What Are Other Usages of Coca Coir for Your Plants? 

You may also modify the original coc coir into: 

  • Basket liners for hanging planters. Their porous nature allows more oxygen to the plants.
  • Garden soil discs for new seeds. They pack well, sit flat, and expand quickly when wet – excellent for early seedlings.
  • Poles for climbing plants (ex: wild vines and zucchini plants, though the latter does not always need a trellis). The plants will wind around this coconut pole, enjoying extra soil moisture retention provided by the garden coir.


Our guide has delivered the most thorough and detailed analysis of coconut mulch pros and cons.

So, is coco coir good for plants and plant growth? Though we still deem it a great solution for gardening and growing, to each their own.

Assess the drawbacks/benefits of mulch chips carefully to decide yourself whether they are what you are looking for.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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