Coir vs Peat

Feature
Coir
Peat Moss
What is it?The refined, 1-2 inch thick fibrous layer of a coconut.Partially decayed plant matter.
CostSame or less than peat.Can cost more than coir.
Water retentionAbsorbs water up to 10 times its dry weight, excellent wetting and re-wetting. [i]Often retains less water than coir which means more watering is required. [ii]
Soil improvementMore aeration and excellent nutrition storage = better plant growth. [iii]Adds organic matter to your soil. Less aeration for roots due to density.
AppearanceNatural earthy brown colour.Brown, may contain extraneous matter (sticks, seeds).
MaterialStain-free, lighter than typical soil-mix, easy to work with. Gets under your nails and can stain.
WeightCoir is more compact and lightweight – A 3.75 kg (8.25lb.) bag of coir hydrates to the equivalent of a 2.3 cubic foot bale of peat moss.
DurabilityOnly needs replacing every other season.Most gardeners replace peat moss each season.
PH levelPH neutral – perfect for all plants. [iv]Peat ranges from alkaline to acidic.
How is it produced?Refine the fibrous layer of discarded coconut husks.Drain a peat bog (a natural ecosystem), dry it out, then use large “peat vacuums” to extract the peat moss.
RenewabilityHealthy coconut trees produce up to 150 nuts per year. [v]IF peat bogs are successfully restored, it is estimated this will take between 5 and 20 years. [vi]
Global warmingCoconut coir is made from agricultural waste and does not contribute to global warming. Peat bogs, when mined for peat moss, release large amounts of CO2 because bogs are natural carbon sinks.
SourceSubsistence farmers in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. We believe in practicing fair trade.The remaining peatlands cover about 4 million km2. The majority of peatlands are found in northern climates. [vii]
The futureCoconut Coir has been used successfully for decades by European growers and is catching on quickly in North America.The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the U.K. has mandated that 90% of its own growing media requirements be peat free by 2010. [viii]

References:

[i] Eaton, Sullivan 2007. The San Francisco Chronicle. The Dirt: Peat’s environmental uses outweigh garden benefits.

[ii] Alan Meerow.Coir Dust, A Viable Alternative to Peat Moss. University of Florida.

[iii] Davi Richards. Coir is Sustainable Alternative to Peat in the Garden. Oregon State University.

[iv] PH neutral – perfect for all plants (link is no longer active)

[v] Healthy coconut trees produce up to 150 nuts per year

[vi]  IF peat bogs are successfully restored, it is estimated this will take between 5 and 20 years (link is no longer active)

[vii] The remaining peatlands cover about 4 million km2. The majority of peatlands are found in northern climates (link is no longer active)

[viii] The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the U.K. has mandated that 90% of its own growing media requirements be peat free by 2010