Cocopeat and vermicompost are both popular options for supplementing your soil. These dried coconut husks and redworm castings provide nutrients, aeration, and increased water retention that help your plants thrive. As they say, two substrates are better than one!
You can mix cocopeat and vermicompost on their own or in conjunction with soil and other growing mediums. Combining these substrates has many benefits for plants, including access to essential nutrients, a balanced pH, and preventing weeds and fungi.
This article will discuss combining cocopeat and vermicompost and the benefits of using the two substrates together.
Can You Use Vermicompost and Cocopeat at the Same Time?
You can use vermicompost and cocopeat at the same time. Although you cannot use the two in isolation, the two substrates combined provide plants with the necessary nutrients, plenty of aeration, and high water retention.
Vermicompost contains many nutrients, and because of that, you cannot use it on its own. The high nutrient content in vermicompost would put plants at risk of nutrient toxicity, where the nutrients are too abundant for the plant to absorb them all. This nutrient density leads to the development of disease and the death of plants.
Similarly, you shouldn’t use cocopeat on its own. While the pieces of coconut husks provide ample aeration and water retention, it does not provide enough nutrients to support your plants or structure to anchor the roots.
How Do You Use Vermicompost and Cocopeat at the Same Time?
You can use vermicompost and cocopeat together in combination with soil or by themselves. When used with soil, you can use a 1:1:1 ratio to blend the three. When using only vermicompost and cocopeat, cocopeat should make up the majority of the mixture.
Using Vermicompost and Cocopeat With Soil
To use vermicompost and cocopeat combined with soil, you combine them with soil in a 1:1:1 ratio. If your soil is high in nutrients, you may decide that you need to reduce the amount of vermicompost in the mixture to avoid nutrient toxicity. In this case, you can add more cocopeat so that the vermicompost and cocopeat together still make up ⅔ of the substrate.
Adding soil to your potting mixture helps stabilize the roots, which is beneficial for taller plants. It can also save money if you source it from your ground.
Using Vermicompost and Cocopeat on Their Own
If you want to use vermicompost and cocopeat on their own, cocopeat should make up most of the mixture to avoid nutrient toxicity.
Used alone, the best ratio for blending the two is 70% cocopeat and 30% vermicompost. Use this ratio as a starting point, and adjust it if you notice that your plants could use more or fewer nutrients.
If you discover that your plants need more nutrients, you can increase the vermicompost to 40% of the mixture. A scientific study published in Bioresearch Technology found that exceeding 40% of vermicompost in your mix does not increase the benefit to your plants.
Plants That Should Not Use a Vermicompost and Cocopeat Mixture
Desert Plants and Succulents
There are a few exceptions to the standard mixture ratios. Any plants that need soil with good drainage, such as succulents and other desert plants need to use much less casting and cocopeat mixture.
Vermicompost and cocopeat both retain a lot of water, which is often suitable for plants in hot climates. However, desert plants are accustomed to dry soil and quickly develop root rot if the water sits against their roots for extended periods. If you choose to use a vermicompost and cocopeat mixture, it should be used very sparingly and not on its own.
When used for desert plants and succulents, the vermicompost and cocopeat mixture should not make up more than 10% of the soil mix. Using river sand in the combination will also provide additional drainage to offset the water retention in the plants.
Additionally, if the vermicompost contains animal waste, you cannot use the mix to fertilize plants that produce food.
The bacteria in animal waste are dangerous, and you should never ingest plant matter that has been in contact with the substance. Using vermicompost from animal waste to fertilize food plants can lead to salmonella, norovirus, and more.
You can use cocopeat for these plants, but it must be mixed with soil and not comprise more than 70% of the mix.
The Benefits of Combining Vermicompost and Cocopeat
Combining vermicompost and cocopeat benefits include a balanced pH, water retention, and prevention of weeds and fungus. Both vermicompost and cocopeat contribute several unique properties to the mix that complement each other and enhance plant health.
These benefits include:
- Good Aeration: Traditional soil is very compact and does not allow air to penetrate below the surface, depriving the roots of oxygen. Due to their light texture, vermicompost and cocopeat allow oxygen to travel freely throughout the substrate.
- Water Retention: Vermicompost and cocopeat both have incredible water retention, and cocopeat alone can hold eight times its weight in water. This characteristic reduces the frequency plants need to be watered and helps them handle heat better. Water retention is a huge benefit for plants in hot climates or during summer when soil tends to dry out very quickly.
- Balanced pH: vermicompost has a pH of 7, which is neutral, while cocopeat has a slightly lower and more acidic pH. The two substrates combined maintain a primarily neutral pH suitable for most plants.
- Organic: Both vermicompost and cocopeat are organic. Unlike other soil enhancers, they will keep chemicals out of your garden and away from sensitive plants. It is also healthier for the ground and our planet.
- Good Seed Starter: Vermicompost and cocopeat are excellent choices for seed starters because they are very lightweight. This lack of density allows the seeds to open and establish roots without meeting resistance from dense or hard soil.
- Long-Lasting: Vermicompost and cocopeat both decompose very slowly. Vermicompost can last three years before it begins to lose nutrients, and because cocopeat does not have many nutrients, the only concern is its shape, which it can retain for years.
Vermicompost and cocopeat each bring unique advantages that supplement what the other lacks. This unique combination of benefits demonstrates why using both materials together is even more effective than separately.
Benefits of Vermicompost
- Well-rounded Nutrients. While cocopeat has a few nutrients, it cannot fulfill all of your plants’ needs. Vermicompost compensates for this by providing all of the nutrients necessary for plant success at a high density. The density of nutrients in vermicompost offsets the lack of nutrients in cocopeat, making the combination able to fulfill all plants’ needs.
- Plant Stability. For plants to grow without falling over, they need a substrate that can hold their bases steady, and vermicompost provides this structure. Although it does have good aeration, it is still compact enough to support plants. Cocopeat pellets, on the other hand, are not dense enough to keep plants upright.
- Salinity Mitigation: Cocopeat contains salt, which can be harmful to plants. However, vermicompost contains humic acid, an organic compound that helps counteract salt and protects plants from harm. Thus the two substances work to balance each other out perfectly.
Benefits of Cocopeat
- Repels Weeds. Cocopeat helps keep weeds away and makes it difficult for them to establish roots. Repelling weeds is something that vermicompost and soil cannot do, so this ability makes cocopeat a valuable addition to any substrate mixture.
- Prevents Fungus. The chemical properties of cocopeat help keep fungus from establishing a presence in the soil. This unique characteristic is beneficial, as vermicompost naturally contains bacteria and can not fight off the fungus.
Using vermicompost and cocopeat together can benefit your garden or plants. Together, they can provide nutrients, roots stability, and a balanced pH while presenting weeds and fungus.
When you mix cocopeat with vermicompost, do not exceed 40% vermicompost, although 30% is the ideal ratio. With soil, use a 1:1:1 balance unless the soil you are using has an extraordinary amount of nutrients.
If you wonder how to use vermicompost and cocopeat at the same time, you can read my other article here: How to Use Vermicompost and Cocopeat at the Same Time