mistake made using coir baskets, any hope?

June 8, 2008

I decided on getting some cherry tomato plants for hanging baskets on my deck instead of using flowers as usual. I'd never used coir basket liners before, they always look so pretty, so I thought, why not?

Now I know why not. All the water just pours out of the sides of the baskets. The soil doesn't seem to be especially dry yet, but we've had rain, and it's early in the season.

Any ideas on what I can do now that the plants are already planted? I don't want to replant because they have grown and I'll damage them if I try to remove them. I was thinking maybe sliding some clear plastic along the sides to try and retain some moisture. I don't know what kind, I was going to go to a craft store and see what they have.

I'm open to other suggestions on how to salvage this year's plants. If I use these again I will definitely line the baskets with plastic before putting in the soil,allowing for drainage of course.

Comments (13)

  • aliska12000

    Funny you should mention that. I had to cut my own darn coir and it was a job. Then I planted petunia seeds, stuck the baskets in large pots and put them in front of a south window that was open (to partially harden them off). So one fell over and the dirt is all over the floor, scooped up what I could but will have to vacuum.

    I noticed that despite my watering, the dirt was very dry, so I was thinking about plastic, too, with holes cut in it for drainage. Once they're filled with soil and planted, no way to get plastic in there except on the outside, and that kind of ruins the look of them but better than giving it up altogether.

    Don't dump your soil like I did. I suspended them over large pots which was fine until I had them on the window ledge, you have to get them as close to the outside as possible and still keep turning them.

    Next year I'm ordering some already cut online. AND line with plastic. AND try to get an earlier start on the seeds or just buy some plants.

  • pieheart

    Also, beware of the coir losing shape and sagging in your planter. At least if it's like mine. Next year I'm also going to first put some hardware cloth or something similar in the pot, then the liner, then the plastic, then the soil. Or I'll just donate the planters to the thrift store and get something else.

  • aliska12000

    No wonder mine are practically brand new and cost $.20 apiece after a plant sale. I was wishing my coir would sag a little. It didn't fit in the basket very well, and my daughter who worked for a nursery told me how to cut it.

    I first asked my son to pick me up some when he picked up some rhodies for me. He came with some stuff 1/2" thick. What would they use that thick kind for?

    There were a couple thin spots so I stuck extra pieces over them for reinforcement.

  • tanyag

    I have a succulent in my coir hanging basket. The birds attacked it last summer and used some of the coir for their nests. Little buggers. This year, no more damage. When I water this particular basket, I put it in a bucket filled with water up to about an inch below the top level of the soil and I let it soak for 15 minutes. When the top level is moist I know it has soaked in its full amount of water. I pull it out and prop it against some other plants to let it drain. I then top water to flush out any minerals that might build up in the soil. This being a succulent I only water it like this once every two weeks. If you feel your pot is not getting enough moisture try watering this way once and then start a daily top watering method. It is okay that all the water drains through. You don't ever want your plants "sitting" in water anyway. You may have to water this container twice a day when youstart to get really hot, but what else can you do now? Good luck.

  • loladetweiler

    I have a couple of planters with the same liners and am having trouble keeping the plants moist also. They seem to dry out faster than regular pots. I was wondering if I need to use a special soil? My flowers in them do okay, but the ones in regular pots do so much better. I was wondering if anyone would have a watering system to keep these flowers moist. Thanks

  • solanaceae

    # 1 wicking system.

    Its not what I would call ornamental but for vegetables you can use a wicking system.

    This lasts about two days in hot weather and will still be moist.


    This will last a day and still be moist.


    For next year and What I have currently.

    #2 make sure you have a rich mix of soil with 1/3 vermiculite. If its soaked you should have the full day with now problem. It holds water very well. So even in hot weather I do not really have water stress on the gallon system until about three days.

    #3 If you want the look simply line the baskets with plastic. . I am sure those plastic bags from the grocery store will do, just punch a few holes in them, or use the bags from soil. Even between that and vermiculite you will see a huge difference.

  • calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

    I have been using coir in hanging baskets for years. They get watered everyday. You mean I should be able to go for a week without watering them? Thirty years ago I visited the city of Victoria Canada and was enthralled with the beautiful baskets of flowers on the light standards throughout the downtown. When I asked how they maintained them I was told every basket was watered everyday. If daily water was required in the mild summer climate of Victoria, it surely is in sunny hot California. Al

  • loladetweiler

    Al, do you have your coir baskets in full sun? What type of soil do you use? Do you line your coir baskets with plastic before your soil? I have tidal wave petunias in mine and they do okay, but do not grow as big as those in reg pots. I try to water daily, fert every other week, but that doesn't seem to be enought. Our temps here can get to 100 with very humidy for several weeks, Any ideas? Another please help. Thanks, Lola

  • calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

    Lola I don't know how you are watering or what you are using for fertilizer. If you are watering by hand and using a water soluble fertilizer I would fertilize with every watering using half strength. If you are watering automatically as I am use time release 18-6-12 adding new every two months during the hot weather. Figure one teaspoon for each gallon of soiless mix in the basket. I use a commercial soil mix comprised of ground fir bark, sand and volcanic rock. or perlite. No plastic liner, only the coir. My baskets are mostly in part sun here in sunny, dry California. When you water, the water SHOULD drain through the soil mix and the coir. The water draining through the mix drags the air with oxygen into the mix, allowing the plant roots to respire. Al

  • loladetweiler

    Al, I use miracle grow potting mix with fert that is to last 3 months and miracle grow fert(water soluble) very 2 weeks. I was thinking of adding perlite or vermelite to my soil next year to hold the moisture in. I know the extra water should run off, but the coir doesn't seem to hold as much as needed. Do you have any other ideas? Do you have a specail watering system?
    Thanks, Lola

  • calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

    Lola the coir is not intended to hold in the moisture, as you have noticed the water runs right through it. It does hold the soil mix. The length of the life of the fertilizer will be relative to the frequency and amount of water run through it and the temperature of the climate. I do not use your mix because in my opinion it retains MORE water than I like, and it breaks down faster than I like. If you add perlite to it the drainage will be improved but I would not add vermiculite. My baskets are all on automatic drip emitters, and the emitters are held above the baskets so I can easily monitor that they are not plugged up. Chickadee birds who like to drink from a drip appreciate the water also. Speaking of birds they like to use the top edge of the coir when building their nests, for building material, so there will be some losses. Al

  • msaunt

    Next time you plant with coir, put a shallow dish in the very bottom, then the dirt. It will help hold some water in. I used a plastic plant saucer in one, and the bottom of a take home chicken container in the other. My baskets ar in shade. I also water in a bucket. One thing I got this year at HD is what I call a basket diaper. Ha ! It's a deep plastic saucer that attaches to the basket wires and hangs under to catch drips. Mine is a little small for my basket, so water still runs out the sides closer to the top. If the saucer gets too full, I set the basket/saucer combo on a flat surface for a day so the basket sits in the water and sucks back up into the basket. I also keep a big herb pot under my hanging planter so the drips water the plant below.

  • thonotorose

    After the coir goes in, line the basket with disposable baby diapers. One, two or three depending on the water needs of the plant. Then fill with your soil.

    The absorbent material will last the season and provide a water reservoir for the plants, much in the same way that the saucer in the bottom does.

    I only had a problem with this method once. A window box of pentas was suffering until I removed all but one diaper.

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