Apr 10, 2010

My experiments with coco peat and meeting with a great person

(Note: This is a post without any photos, forgive me if I was boring.)

I've been talking about waiting for Coco Peat to repot my plants for quite sometime now and today I finally did get a block.

I already tried Coco peat to repot few plants, the first being a Rose! We call it Paneer Rose locally, that is baby pink. Out of it is extracted the Rose water which is used as fragrance, religious worship, for common eye related problems, to name a few. I used 70% Coco peat + 30% Sand as the potting mix with compost as a thin top layer.
I removed the Rose Plant from it's nursery bag (whatever you call it), deprived it of the soil and repotted it in the above Mix. By the end of the week, it dropped almost all the leaves, which forced me to cut two of it's branches and that seemed to do the trick somehow and there were tiny sprouts peeking out of it in two days and it did well that week, but at the end of the second week since repotting, the leaves started turning brown and all that was left of the plant was just a single stick. I fed it with the growth stimulator and waited few more days. There seemed no improvement at all. After few more days I dared to uproot it only to see a rotten root and a dry stick above.

Now, what could have gone wrong?
Drain? That couldn't have been possible as I made sure that it drained properly.
Soil drying Up? Well, as you all know Coco peat retains water for long and even in hot summers like ours it does well for a day, so I watered it every morning, avoiding the evening feed.
What else could have gone wrong?
Not enough nutrients? Possible because I didn't mix compost in the Mix but only topped the pot with it.

Not sure if my inference is correct still, I tried five other plants, adding compost in the Mix. Two plants - Purple Allamanda, Hibiscus, and Long Pepper didn't wilt badly except for one or two leaf drops which were expected, but the Ixora lost many of its leaves and is now recuperating slowly. The Cape Honeysuckle wilted real bad but surprisingly improved really well after a week.

So my guess is that the Rose didn't get enough nutrients? Am I correct in my inference? I seriously have no idea if the Coco peat that I bought is washed or unwashed, because I recently learned from a great person I met yesterday that plants need Low EC Cocopeat.

The initial wilt/leaf drops could be because I completely washed the roots of the plants and then potted it in the Mix, which I was told was a wrong approach; that the plant shouldn't be washed completely.

I met a wonderful person yesterday Mr. J. U. M. Aslam, from whom I got Low EC Coco peat. We talked for few minutes about how a plant should be potted in Coco peat mix. He was a great person to talk to. He has a nursery in Rajmundri (in a neighboring State in India) and I checked out the board in his office. I was excited to see a Lilium in the list! I wish I visit his nursery some day!

He had done great projects and I was amazed to see that he uproots an entire tree! Not just a baby but an old tree. I saw photos of palm trees uprooted, their roots covered and readied for shipping overseas. I wish I had gotten some of those photos to show you all. He made it all sound so simple. I'm glad I met him and feel lucky too! It was encouraging to talk to him. He exports Coco peat to many countries and is undertaking great projects across the world. I'm looking forward to meet him again this weekend.

Meanwhile I also sowed Sunflower, Passion fruit, Eggplant (Brinjal/Aubergine), Dutchman's Pipe and others. Yesterday I planted Ginger and the Mango Ginger rhizome that my mom planted a week and half ago has sent out a shoot and its leaf would open any day this week. Now that's been too much of rambling... I'll soon post the photos of the Mango Ginger and other seedlings... Have a great weekend, y'all!


Anonymous said...

Dear Chandramouli, Sometimes for reasons which are really quite inexplicable things just do not go right in the gardening world. I often think that there are so many factors about which we know so very little that, in the final analysis, much of what happens is down to chance.

It is always good to meet up with true plantspeople; from them it is possible to learn so much.

Marion said...

What an interesting post. You've spoiled us with your photos, you know! I grow my Roses in nutrient rich, well-drained soil. Perhaps you should have mixed the compost in with your mixture? The only problem we have here in the Southern U.S. is a fungus called blackspot. I fight it every year on my Roses. It's very humid here and I'm sure that doesn't help.

I got a vivid mental picture of the uprooted trees you mentioned. It must have been a sight to behold! Thanks for sharing. Blessings!

tina said...

I think your potting mix was okay, at least it sounds ok. I suspect maybe the rose went into shock with too much loss of feeder roots. Either that or too much water stayed on it. Sometimes I use perlite or vermiculite to aid in drainage in potting mixes. I know you had the sand but even sand can compact a bit. Sorry it died:(

Randy Emmitt said...


If I'm correct it is already pretty hot there? Here in the US we plant bare rooted roses in January (mid winter). Bet it was either shock or just a bad plant to start with. Live and you learn! Hope the other plants do ok, if not then it would have to be the mix.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

Sorry to hear about your rose. I hope the rest of your plants do better. It sounds like you've made a great connection with the nursery owner. I hope you do get to visit him some day.

Green thumb said...

See, every cloud has a silver lining. What you lost on the plant, more than regained because of your meeting with a friendly and knowledgeable person.
I have heard that nurseries in south are very big and beautiful. How I wish I could visit one some day! Meanwhile I feel that if you could take us around your favorite nursery in a blog post, it will be great!

Chandramouli S said...

So true, Edith. I'm looking forward to meet him tomorrow.

Marion: I loved that Rose variety and would get it again. I'm glad that I learnt a lesson from it. Thank you :)

You're right, Randy. Other plants are doing well. I guess the first mix I tried on the rose wasn't right.

Others are doing just fine, Catherine, growing really well. I am to meet the person tomorrow.

That's so correct, GT. Strange ways of life! I am yet to see a nursery here in Chennai that has really great collection of plants. Most of them would have only the normal ones like Hibiscuses, Amaryllis, Arabian Jasmine, and the like. I heard the nurseries in Bangalore are really good and so are the ones in Andhra. I wish nurseries in Chennai had great collections too.

Town Mouse said...

That's interesting. Country Mouse is currently using peat and is thinking of coco peat because of the environmental issues. So, that's questionable as well. Mmmm.

Chandramouli S said...

You should use coco peat as it's environmental friendly, holds water for long, and is a renewable resource! Go for it!

Heather Bell said...

Hi Chandramouli - thanks for dropping by my blog and posting a comment.
Thanks for the tips on coco peat. I've been toying with the idea of using it - just not sure if I like the smell.

Chandramouli S said...

Thank you for stopping by, Heather. You're right about the Coco peat smell. It's not pleasant, but is very faint. Its advantages outweigh that though.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Be sure to keep us updated on your seedlings, we do not have coco peat mix here, we have a cocoa mulch, I can't use it because dogs will eat it and get sick, I have heard it smells really good.

Autumn Belle said...

I'm sorry about your plants and how it turned out in the experiment. Now, I'm looking forward to see its progress. Good Luck!

Michael B. Gordon said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It is funny how we gardeners take for granted the gems that are easy to grow and therefore mundane in our area. Arabian jasmine would be a plant to die for here in New Hampshire!

Chandramouli S said...

Iowa Gardening Woman: Welcome to Plantville :) I sure will. Sorry you can't use cocopeat coz it retains water for long, preventing the plant from wilting. It is a boon especially for tropical heat. It smells good but also has a strange faint odor.

Autumn Belle: It's only the Rose I lost. Others are growing well after I changed the potting mix (i.e., after I added more compost to the mix)

Michael B. Gordon: I love your blog! Strange ways of Nature, eh!

Anonymous said...

Have read alot about cocopeat and wanted to try it but its not available here:(

walk2write said...

Maybe the cocopeat wicks too much of the moisture away from the roots? I know it retains moisture, but perhaps it's at the expense of the plant's roots. I know that roses like their roots to be kept fairly cool even if they do require full sun. I wonder if the cocopeat absorbs too much radiant heat and overheated the roots. Anyway, I hope your other plants thrive with the new soil mixture, and I enjoyed this post, pics or not.

Chandramouli S said...

I understand how you feel, Zindagi, but try googling it. I'm sure you'd find someone in your area. I too thought no one sold it here in Chennai but after months of googling, I did find the sources recently. Don't give up!

W2W: I don't think so, because the person to whom I spoke recently told me that Roses do great in coco peat. I guess I did something wrong with that poor plant.

Rose said...

So sorry about the rose, Chandramouli. I see you've gotten some excellent suggestions about what might have gone wrong, but I agree with Edith--sometimes we just don't know. I've babied lots of little seedlings only to have them die and then neglected others who lived. I've discovered gardening isn't an exact science.

But how exciting to meet a famous gardener! It's always fun to meet someone like this and learn from their experiences.

Chandramouli S said...

You're right about that, Rose. I was just guessing though because others survived.
He really was a great person to speak to and there was lots to learn from him!

☆sapphire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Country Mouse said...

Lots of us are interested in coco peat, so I hope it becomes a good business for coco producers!

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jagadesh said...

Hi Dear's,

This is jagadesh from J.S.V.Coco products.
As of chandra's statement it could have happened because coco peat is only a medium for growing, and in general potassium an sodium chloride content is in excess(HIGH EC), Because it is not mined. It is extracted from husk of coconut It should be treated with water to lose its Nacl and K(electrical conductivity level).

Therefore when ever using the coco peat, one should supply efficient liquid nutrients in it. Least amount of nutrient is in peat it will not work out for the plants, as well most of the default nutrient will bleed through the excess water.

J.S.V.Coco products located at POLLACHI INDIA is a company that deals with various kind of coco peat products such as grow bags, blocks, bricks etc.,

We are looking forward for the partners to market the products over U.S.A and all countries in EUROPE.

Mutual terms will be discussed on contacting.

Marketing will be with a brand name.

Interested persons kindly contact us.

Thanks and Regards
Email: jacky.bose@gmail.com
Phone:+91 9994629947

Nataraj said...

Hello, can i know where do you get Coco Peat in Chennai? Also is Perlite, Vermiculite available in Chennai? If so where? Quality good seeds store in Chennai?

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AJK said...

Felt Good going through your blog . What is meant by low EC cocopeat? I got some blocks.Been using it quiet unsucessfully . please help me.

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Venkadesh Prabhu said...

Thanks for sharing your experience!

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Venkadesh Prabhu said...

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Amit said...

Correct potting mix is coco peat + compost +perlite - 40 40 20
Perlite will improve drainage

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