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What Are Perlite & Vermiculite? How & When to Use Them?

Perlite & Vermiculite are inorganic soil additions that are well-known in horticulture. Manufacturers extend mineral ingredients gathered from nature to create these two materials.

The two materials, however, are not interchangeable. Vermiculite is a smooth brown stone with a faint sheen. Perlite, on the other hand, is porous, whitish, and has sharp edges.

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The two are well-known for aerating and illuminating soil mixtures. In container plant culture, perlite & vermiculite are very useful for seed beginning and roots.

So, what is the difference between perlite & vermiculite? What exactly is the difference between the two? What are they used for, exactly?

What is Vermiculite, and how does it work?

Rocks have been mined as a source of material!

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Vermiculite, which can be mined from rocks, is the first substance. It’s a collection of minerals that includes iron, magnesium, and aluminum.

This substance is heated to an extremely high temperature of 1652 degrees Fahrenheit, much as Perlite. There are little drips of water in vermiculite. Instead of popping, it forms accordion-shaped, worm-like formations when heated.

The structures are made up of several thin plate layers. The particles are eight to twenty times larger than normal.

Vermiculite is light, odourless, and water absorbent due to its chemical makeup. Vermiculite comes in a variety of hues, from black to brown and yellow to gold and coppery.

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What exactly is Perlite?

Only Volcanoes Have This Material!

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Simply described, Perlite is a glass that has been taken from volcanoes and soaked with water.

Perlite is made by first heating it to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes it to pop like corn kernels, and then turning it into popcorn.

This expansion procedure increases the size of the original substance by thirteen times. The end result is a material that is very light.

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Per cubic foot, finished perlite weighs about six to seven pounds. The water that bursts and evaporates in perlite expands, creating microscopic air pockets.

Water may be held in the air pockets on the exterior. As a consequence, plants are able to access water more easily, which would not be possible if the water was trapped within the air pockets. Perlite is a reusable material that dries very quickly.

Because of its white hue, perlite is difficult to differentiate from Styrofoam.

Perlite vs. Vermiculite

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There are several distinctions between perlite and vermiculite.

  • Perlite has an alkaline content of 7.0 to 7.5 pH, making it potentially hazardous if used excessively. Perlite should be used sparingly, even though it has a high capacity for keeping the soil mix from compacting. Otherwise, it may create minor nutritional difficulties.
  • Most plants demand a higher level of acidity. Vermiculite’s pH, which ranges from 6.5 to 7.2, makes it safe and beneficial to practically all plants, and its influence on them is neutral.
  • Surface crusting and damp areas may be eliminated by mixing Perlite with clay soils. Perlite’s insulating characteristics will help to maintain soil temperatures. Horticultural perlite comes in a variety of grades, depending on how you want to utilize it.
  • Vermiculite is used by plant specialists and professionals for rooting cuttings. It may also store moisture and plant nutrients before releasing them as required to the cuttings.
  • Vermiculite does not decay, making it a permanent material. It’s also non-toxic, odorless, spotless, sanitary, and won’t mold or decay.

What are they intended to be used for?

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Perlite & Vermiculite are both useful in the garden for preventing soil compaction, retaining moisture, and improving aeration.

Perlite & Vermiculite are required for fresh plant propagation and seed culture, as well as indoor container gardening and composting. There is, however, a distinction in use. Perlite or Vermiculite is used depending on the plant.

Each of the two materials has a distinct technique of retaining water and a varied amount of water, making them suited for various sorts of plants. For plants that need a lot of water, perlite is infamous for drying up quickly.

Water-loving plants, such as irises and forget-me-nots, may thrive in vermiculite. Vermiculite is not good for plants that need well-drained soil, such as cacti or rhododendrons, since it lacks the necessary quantity of water. In this situation, vermiculite would hold moisture, causing the plant to die or develop root rots.

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Using Perlite & Vermiculite

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Perlite Advice:

  • Mix half of perlite with Peaceful Valley soilless mix, coco peat, or Quickroot if you wish to utilize it for seed starting.
  • If cuts are required, use the same mix as previously.
  • Apply a 2-inch layer of compost and other soil amendments to garden beds. Everything should be applied at the same time, and the perlite should be worked into the top 6 to 12 inches of soil. For many years, one application is sufficient to maintain the soil loose and light.
  • You may use 13 perlite per container for container gardens and potted plants. Perlite is preferred by orchids and succulents. If the plant need extra perlite, half or more perlite might be added to the potting soil.
  • Perlite is perfect for preserving bulbs during the winter since it keeps them fresh till spring planting. To do so, put perlite and bulbs in alternating layers, then top with additional perlite and keep in a dark, cold, dry location.

Vermiculite Suggestions:

  • Vermiculite is beneficial to plant growth because it allows them to absorb the calcium, magnesium, potassium, and ammonium they need to develop quickly.
  • Seeds sprout quickly when vermiculite is used alone or in combination with soil for seed germination.
  • Medium-grade vermiculite might be utilized directly for root cuttings. Simply put the cutting up to the node while vigorously watering.
  • When arranging flowers, vermiculite may be used. Fill the container halfway with water and add the vermiculite. Remove the excess and arrange your flowers, saving time on water changes, spills, and keeping blossoms fresh all day.
  • For soil conditioning and lightening, use vermiculite alone or in combination with peat or compost. It will significantly increase growth.