Peat Moss vs. Coco Coir: Which Growing Medium Worths Opting To?

Peat moss vs coco coir. The topic that has been gaining traction since the discovery of coco coir. 2 substrates with different characteristics, what to choose? Which is better in what field?

peat moss vs coco coir

What is coco coir?

First is coco coir. A sustainable, ecological and economical choice for a substrate. It is made from the by-product of the coconut industry, and through processes, made into a substrate.


  • Eco-friendly at its nature: by cleaning up the by-product of another industry, coco coir in its nature is already an eco-friendly substrate to choose and use. One more thing to add is that they are slow to decompose, so it’s possible to reuse them after washing and picking twig and leaves from prior growth.
  • Excellent aeration and water-holding capability. Researches have shown that they saturate in water several times faster than peat moss, and hold around 75% of them.
  • Is actually pH neutral after processes, so with a little bit of fiddling, they can satisfy any plant, as long as the recipe for catering is right.
  • Thanks to its origin and process of making, coco coir is significantly cheaper than peat moss, making it a viable choice for growers who are running low on budget.


  • Most coco coir upsides are only available when the process of making them is right. So it means that, if the wrong choice is made, it can have a catastrophe effect on plants. Some types of coco coir may have high salt concentrations, which can negatively affect plant growth if not rinsed before use. This is also why growers are advised to choose coco coir products that have been processed correctly and have a trusted source of origin.

Best Coco Coir Product


What is peat moss?

Next up is peat moss. In this case, we will specify the Sphagnum moss- a non-sustainable, centuries old substrate, formed and harvested in peat bogs across northern Europe, Canada and North America.

Pros of peat most

  • Suitable for plants that thrive in an acidic environment. They are usually used by gardeners to rebalance the pH scale toward the acidic end, creating a habitat for them.
  • Well known for its water retention capability.
  • Disease resistance. No microorganisms, pathogens, and weed seeds in the final product. It can be used to cultivate young plants and seed starting.
  • Will retains its spongy nature even with people walking on it.
  • Mix well with other types of soil while still keeping it water holding nature- others like perlite, coco coir, etc. will help with aeration and other things.
  • Can work well without other soil (standalone substrate) – hydroponic is the name of the method.

Cons of peat most

  • As mentioned, peat moss is an non-sustainable product. So just providing a demand for them has already caused environmental concern- from the release of carbon dioxide in the harvesting process, the destruction of the peat bog ecological system, to the potential of releasing methane from harvesting.
  • They are costly to afford, if you can’t tell already from the origin of the substrate. They cost much more per square foot than traditional soil.
  • Some plants don’t fare well in the environment that peat moss would create. For example, lavender, ginger, daylilies, blackberries, and raspberries are those that dwell well  in alkaline soil, so this means that these plants should not be planted with peat moss.
  • For decoration purposes, when the peat moss dries down, they will crack the soil.

See more:

What is peat moss?

Comparison between peat moss and coco coir

Coco coir peat requires less water compared to peat moss for optimal hydration. Moreover, unlike peat moss, coco peat can be reused even after a gardening project concludes and the soil is no longer necessary. It can be washed and utilized again, eliminating waste.

Saturation and drying out

This is the case in which non is outright better than another. Peat most is harder to fully saturate on water from the point of being completely dry, but they hold those water longer than coir.

As a trade off, coco coir does get soaked fully faster than peat moss, but their surface can dry out fast, which is bad for certain actions, such as seed starting.

coco coir vs coco peat

Acidity and nutrient absorption

At this point it should be obvious that peat moss is well known for its acidic characteristic. Their pH balance is so low that it needed to be treated with lime before selling. Nutrient-wise, while they do not contain much themselves, they are able to absorb a lot, just like a sponge.

Coco coir on other hand, doesn’t take in nutrients that well, but they are neutral in pH after the process of washing them thoroughly. So the fertilization process for coco coir is longer in nature compared with moss.

Decomposition and reusability

This has already been stated. Peat moss is a one way ticket, while with coco coir, you should be able to get multiple uses out of it, with a little reconditioning, they will be readily available for another season or more.

Maturation of plants

Both peat moss and coco coir can be good options for plants as they both offer excellent water retention and aeration properties. However, the growth rate of plants may depend upon various other factors such as the type of plant, the nutrient content and pH of the soil or growing medium, and the environmental conditions like light and temperature. Some studies suggest that coco coir may provide slightly better growth rates than peat moss due to its higher nutrient content, but this may vary depending on the specific plant being grown and the conditions it is grown in. Ultimately, the best growing medium will depend on individual circumstances and the specific needs of the plants being grown.


Peat moss are centuries old material that are harvested on the field. While the coco coir processing process is debatable on its sustainability (by products, manpowers, etc.), but the fact that coco coir is made from what was once considered trash of the coconut industry is definitely more sustainable in comparison with peat moss.

Content Coco coir Peat moss
Price Cheap,  easy to find and buy Relatively expensive and hard to find
pH balance level Average from 5.2 to 6.5

Standard level for crop development.

From 3 to 4.5

Perfect level for growing plants

Water uptake + Fast

As coco peat has an absorbent sponge-like structure, they are capable of absorbing large amounts of water quickly

+ Usually slower than coco peat

Since peat moss does not have a sponge-like structure. But it has a ship-shaped structure like the leaves of white moss (sphagnum moss) to retain water. However, modern harvesting technology can endanger this structural foundation.

Expiry date + Approximately 5 years

Coco peat has a large amount of natural lignin (45%), which avoids the decomposition effect of fungi and bacteria.

+ From 6 months to 1 year

Depends on the area of formation and quality of the product.

Breathability Good

Coir peat has the ability to ventilate and hold air even when containing a large amount of water without being waterlogged


When water is applied to peat moss, the amount of air present in the product decreases. As a result, there is no supply to the roots.

Ability to maintain original form (Shrinkage) Good

Due to a large amount of lignin and fibrous structure. Coir peat does not shrink and retains its original shape


Peat moss shrinks from the sides of the bag and when supplied with water it is easy to drain away. And for longer trees, a large amount of peat moss is needed, so the cost also increases

Water retention + Long-lasting water retention

Although the coco peat breaks down into a sponge-like structure, it retains up to 78% of its water content

+ Quick drainage

Peat moss only has a low water holding capacity and therefore requires frequent watering.

Porosity + Excellent

No need to add any other auxiliary products. Common coco peat has up to 96% off holes that allow water to flow through easily, thereby avoiding flooding at the same time

+ Mid-range

Need to add other by-products such as perlite, rice husk, etc. to get more porosity

If it is too dry, will it be calloused? + No

Due to the sponge-like structure, it will not affect the ability to quickly absorb water

+ Yes

Peat moss is only used for a short time. and if it is too dry, the surface will shrink and lock the hole to absorb water and air, so it needs a high cost to renovate.

Ion exchange capacity (+) + High

Coir peat has a high rate of CEC because the amount of ions is allocated to the molecular structure and is not filtered away. Hence, it can be kept and released with the right amount for the crop

+ Low

Peat moss often has a poor CEC rate if not supplemented with additional products such as perlite to avoid nutrient and ion leaching (+).

How to Choose the Right Growing Medium 

Factors to Consider:

What are your intentions? Commercial, or personal?

What plants are you growing? What is the scale of growing?

And what is your budget?

That should be most of the things that you should consider before going on the process of choosing a growing medium. Having your step planned out is better than thinking of them on the fly and running into problems trying to fix it mid way.


Can Peat Moss and Coco Coir Be Mixed?

They can be. Mixing them in 1:1 ratio is the most popular ratio to get both’s upsides while preventing some of the downsides, but other ratios can be applied depending on the plant.

Peat Moss vs Coco Coir: Which one is better?

They both have their ups and downsides, which can be justified according to the purpose. But it’s recommended to use coco coir, as both of them are mostly the same, while coir is cheaper.

Peat Moss vs Coco Coir: Which one is cheaper?

Coco coir wins this part. It is not only natural sustainable material but also easy to find and buy. In addition to that, the time for its regeneration isn’t long, thus it ends up with a cheaper and more affordable price to growers.

Can I use Coco Coir as an Alternative to Peat Moss?

Yes, but there are some differences in the process of catering, like fertilizer more, water the same and do not add more water as the surface tends to dry up while the liquid is still held inside, etc.

Which should be used for Hydroponics: Coco Coir or Peat Moss?

They both can be. Choosing what to use is up to the grower’s intentions and restrictions.

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