The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 12

Q: About coco peat (coir).

Royal palm
Royal palm,

A: Coco peat is a coconut palm tree product (aka coir) that was introduced with the hope it would be a nice, environmentally friendly replacement for Sphagnum. Unfortunately the performance of this product has been unreliable. I have read of tests that Peter D'Amato has conducted, and watched horticultural trials conducted by John Brittnacher, and in these cases disaster always resulted.

Meanwhile, I understand that Robert Cantley uses it for all his plantings in his excellent Nepenthes nursery in Sri Lanka (Borneo Exotics).

How are these observations reconciled? The hypothesis popular with most is that if you obtain your coco peat from inland plantations, your plants will be fine and even thrive. Meanwhile, if you use coco peat harvested from coastal sites, the salt in the peat will do terrible things to your plants. Robert's Cantley's coco peat is from trees harvested inland, far from the sea.

There is no way to say if a bag of coco peat is from a coastal or inland area. As such, the use of coco coir is too risky for my tastes. I am looking elsewhere for alternatives to Sphagnum--also, I'm keeping an ear open to see if coco peat stabilizes in quality.

Page citations: Cantley, R., personal communication; D'Amato, P., 1998b; personal observation.

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Revised: 2018
©Barry Rice, 2018