We’re all familiar with coco coir at this point. It’s absorbent and used as a soilless growing medium. But coconut coir mats have their purpose too!
These moisture-holding mats can be used for lining hanging planters or starting microgreens. Cut into strips, they’re easy to fold and set into hydroponic net pots as a medium. And they’re renewable and eco-friendly.
But what do you need to know before investing in coco fiber mats? Let’s talk about that.
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All About Coir Fiber
We’ve discussed at length the different types of coconut coir in the past and how they’re used. Coco coir mats are made out of the coconut fiber rather than the peat-like pith or coco chips.
Once stripped from the coconut, these long fibers are easy to tangle together into a natural “felt”. They are extremely absorbent, swelling to hold far more than their own weight in water.
Coir fiber is pH neutral, meaning that it’s not going to be too acidic for most plants. Peat moss, another popular growing medium, tends to be a bit too acidic on its own for some plant types.
Not only is it useful for starting and growing plants, but sheets of coir fiber make great mulch around young trees and bushes. Their moisture-retention helps keep the soil from drying out.
Preparing and Using Coconut Fiber
When using coconut fiber, you’ll want to pre-soak it and rinse it first. This ensures that any salts that are left in the fiber get leached out of the material.
I cut my flat mats while they’re dry to the shape I want them to fill. If that’s a 10″ x 20″ growing tray for microgreens, then I’ll cut rectangles of mat to use as a growing medium.
If you’re working with a curved space like a hanging basket, it’s easier to gauge the size first. Press it into your basket, leave a few extra inches to trim off later, and cut it while dry. Don’t worry if you have some overlap from folds, those will work out later.
Place your coconut fiber mats into a large container of water and let them sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Once they’ve initially absorbed moisture, wring them out thoroughly. Empty out the water, and soak them again in fresh water for another 30-60 minutes.
Once your coir has been prepared, lightly squeeze out excess water. You can then lay the microgreen mats into your trays. Once soaked, they’re easier to shape to your hanging baskets as well. Trim off any excess fiber with scissors or a craft knife.
With hanging baskets, you’ll have some random folds still visible. Leaving these in place is just fine. Just form the coir to the shape of your container. You can use thin pieces of wire to anchor it in place so it doesn’t slide before you fill it with potting soil.
If you’re filling net pots for deep water culture or a Kratky system, cut strips of coconut fiber to the width of the inside of your pot. Soak as directed above, then fan-fold them into your net pots. Once the pot is filled, you can use a screwdriver or awl to poke a hole partway into the fiber for cuttings or seeds.
Coconut Fiber Mat Choices
Envelor Coco Fiber Grow Mats
New to growing microgreens? If so, you’ll want to keep it simple to start. These mats allow you to do that.
If thoroughly soaked and rinsed a couple times, these mats hold quite a lot of water weight. The natural binding material used washes out as well. All that will be left is pure, clean coconut fiber mats.
Envelor’s mats have a slightly uneven surface. They won’t be perfectly flat. If there’s thin spots, reduce the amount of seeds you place there.
But for a beginner, these are a perfect starter option. They’re inexpensive, can be reused if cleaned and soaked again, and are super-easy to start with.
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Bosmere 60″ x 20″ Coco Liner
Bosmere 60″ x 20″ Replacement Coco Liner
- Ideal for use with hard-to-fit and oddly shaped hanging…
- 1/4″ thickness makes it easy to work with
- Holds soil in the basket but lets water and air circulate
- 60″ long, 20″ wide roll
- Start by cutting the liner to an approximate size,…
Another inexpensive option, Bosmere’s 60″ x 20″ roll of coco fibre provides a lot to work with. It’s 1/4″ in thickness, which is enough for rooting microgreens. For baskets, use a double thickness for added durability.
This material’s popular not only for baskets and microgreens, but as a mulch coating as well. Soak it as you would for baskets, then lay it on the surface of your soil. Make cutouts for young plants as needed. If using soaker hoses, make sure they’re underneath your fiber. It prevents soil moisture evaporation, catching the moisture in its fibers and holding it by the soil’s surface.
While not the longest roll on the market, this provides an ample supply for most beginners to work with. If you’re just doing a few planters or want to keep a supply of microgreens going, this will work well for you.
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Envelor Coconut Fiber Roll, 4′ x 4′
Made of the same fiber as the pre-cut Envelor coco fiber mats, this larger roll gives you plenty to work with. It’s lightweight and easy to handle, and it’s thin enough to be pliable.
This enables you to cut smaller sized pieces for your microgreen trays. Want to grow 2-3 different types on different panels in the same tray? You absolutely can. Cut to the shape you want, soak and seed. It’ll handle the rest.
This roll is a bit shorter than Bosmere’s, but it’s wider. This enables you to handle larger planter baskets along with your narrower ones. I like this material for lining my railing planters and window boxes.
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CoirPlus Premium Coco Grow Mats
Looking for something a bit denser and more rigid? CocoPlus has you covered with their coir-based mats. Made of a blend of compressed coco peat and coco fiber, these are more densely formed.
Because of its tighter density, it’s more difficult for thicker taproots to penetrate. Sunflower microgreens may be difficult on this material. Most onion, alfalfa, broccoli and other thin-rooted greens do extremely well on this.
These can also be more difficult to cut. I recommend using a razor blade to slice through these with multiple passes.
Because of the nature of this dense material, keep these for your microgreen use only. They aren’t flexible enough to work easily in hanging baskets. They will make an excellent mulch layer around prized plants, but are expensive for that use.
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Gardener Select Coco Plant Base Liner – Bulk
Do you need a truly epic amount of coconut fiber matting?
Gardener Select’s liner material comes in a huge roll. 24″ in width, the roll’s 33 feet long, and will provide you with plenty to work with.
It’s very reasonably priced for the quantity, too. A good soak will eliminate any packaging smells that linger. It’ll also wash away residual coconut dust or juice which may stain the fiber.
Because of the size of this roll, those who’re looking to use their coco fiber as a mulch will be pleased with it! But it also works very well for microgreens and hanging baskets.
If you’re looking to start a small microgreens business, this is a great buy. Even if you’re just using it at home, one purchase will cover most of your coconut fiber needs for a long time.
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With coconut fiber mats, you’re getting the perks of coir in a useful shape. The fibers are absorptive and ready for seeding or shaping. Once it’s outlived its usefulness, toss it into your worm farm or compost pile and let it break down! It’s sustainable and renewable.
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Last update on 2019-04-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API