I am having good luck growing my orchids in coconut chips. Should I be using a balanced (with a 1-1-1 ratio) fertilizer or a high-nitrogen fertilizer (3-1-1 ratio) as for fir bark? —
Coconut products are being used, both as chips and as a ground material that has a consistency like peat moss, as potting media for man genera. In discussions with several growers, notably Terry Root of The Orchid Zone, it seems that coconut-husk products are composed mainly, if not entirely, of lignin, rather than cellulose. Lignin requires many more steps to break down than cellulose, the main constituent of wood and bark products, and so would not appear to be subject to the same wood-rot bacterial action that is the reason higher-nitrogen formulas are required for bark culture. In other words, a balanced formula will be best. Coconut products have the added benefits of being a renewable resource as well as being the last remaining unused portion of the coconut. —
Coconut husk chips are usually soaked in several changes of clean water before use.