Updated: Jun 21
Written by: Madelynn Gevaert 03/17/2023
Nowadays there are so many different ways of growing plants and are many types of grow media to choose from and it can be quite overwhelming. You might be wondering how to decide which type is best for your needs. In this article I am going to review Peatmoss, Coco Coir, Rockwool and Hydroton (Leca).
Peatmoss is described as a large absorbent moss that grows in dense masses on boggy ground, where the lower parts decay slowly to form peat deposits. Peat moss is widely used in horticulture, especially for packing plants and for compost ( ref: Oxford Dictionary). This dark fibrous material is often used for gardening and for container grown plants as it retains moisture in the soil. This grow media has some debate surrounding it as it is not sustainable and when harvesting it produces carbon dioxide. Peatmoss can be added to soil to help lighten, retain moisture, and aerate the soil. This media is not the best choice for lawns as the acidity of the soil can kill earthworms and doesn’t carry and nutrients. Although it lack’s nutrients this media is great because its sterile and free of weeds and seeds, although once being used it can attract bugs since this matter is decaying. This media is great for starting seedlings and growing potted plants because of its lightweight nature, good drainage properties and moisture retention. You can shop Berger's BM6 peatmoss blend here.
Coco coir, also known as coco pith, collected as a byproduct from everything between the shell and outer coating of the coconut seed. The fibrous strands of the husk are great for aeration and allows for excellent moisture retention. There are a few different kinds of coco coir, this is because of the way that the coco coir is processed, there are three kinds fibers, pith, and chips. Fibers, this kind of coco coir is quite resilient and long lasting, looking like coarse pieces of hair, it allows for great aeration, promoting root growth. Pith is much finer in texture and looks similar to that of peat moss, with great moisture retention, this type of coco coir holds the most water out of all the types of coco coir, the downside this type of coco coir will break down faster than the rest. Last but not least are chips, these are much larger in size and will also promote aeration, and water retention, this type of coco works best when mixed in with another grow media like coco pith or peat moss. This product is all natural and is sustainable, a great option for gardeners looking to grow clean and organically. Coco coir is often washed multiple times making it sterile and bug free. You can shop loose coco below.
Rockwool, also known as stonewool, is a media used in hydroponic growing – derived from basalt. This process is done by spinning molten basalt rock into fine fibers, which are then shaped into many different sizes of cubes and plugs. This type of grow media is considered to be a natural product because of its origin, coming from rocks. Rockwool is also one of the most common soilless growing medias for hydroponics, as it has numerous benefits. The advantages to growing with rockwool are as follows, this media is very sterile as it is processed under high heat, with its fine strands, rockwool has excellent drainage properties and is great for germinating seeds. Allows for you to feed your plants whatever nutrient solution you choose, and can be added to compost! This type of grow media is excellent for starting clones in as its super easy to transplant and allows for the roots to penetrate the medium rather easily. On the downside, this media naturally has a high pH, isn’t as sustainable as other products and not biodegradable either, so if your looking to be eco-friendly this might not be the best choice for you. Rockwool as well like the insulation in your house is quite itchy when coming in contact with our skin, so make sure to be using gloves when dealing with this. You can shop starter rockwool blocks below.
Hydroton, also called clay pellets or leca, is a media used in hydroponic growing. To make hydroton, clay is heated to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the clay to pop and creates small pellets, because of the high heat this media is sterile, bug free and weed free. This process will make many different sizes and is usually sorted afterwards by size. Hydroton is a great option for any grower looking to get into hydroponics, being light weight and super easy for transplanting and harvesting this is a favourite for bucket systems or beds. Because of their size and qualities it helps to prevent blockages due to the space in between them, this also allows for great aeration. Being environmentally friendly, reusable, and a renewable resource, this product is great for anyone looking to grow cleaner! On the downside hydroton does not have great water absorption properties, meaning that is your plant is solely planted in this with no hydroponics set up – it will likely dry out fairly quickly. Because of its simplicity and ease to work with, hydroton can be costly. You can shop hydroton/leca below.
Composting is done by allowing organic waste like yard waste, table scraps, and other organic materials are left to decompose into soil, often needing to be stirred and mixed up to help speed up the decomposition process, keeping it damp will also help with this. This is a great way to be eco-friendly and recycle scraps from the kitchen and yard instead of having to throw it out, saving you money in a couple different ways, all while creating some of the most rich and nutrient dense soil that is amazing for all plants. There are so many benefits of composting, you reduce your waste and your carbon footprint, enrich your soil and avoid the need for any additive nutrients as its all natural and filled with great nutrients. Once the organic matter has decomposed it will look like that of soil or peat moss, and used like soil or can be mixed in with peat moss to enhance the material. On the downside, compost can be smelly as it is decaying matter and doesn’t always look the nicest, people often opt to keep a compost bin somewhere less seen.
I hope you learned more about grow medias and were able to pick the right one for you!