Perlite is harder, is white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock. If the plants you’re growing need the soil to stay on the wetter side, opt for vermiculite. You can use straight perlite or vermiculite to root cuttings, or add to soil-less mixes, either one or both will be fine. Before reusing, pick through the perlite to remove material like root segments. It is added to soil mixes in order to improve the drainage capability of both soil-based and soilless potting mixes. Water in, solidifying the perlite around the cuttings, until water starts to run out the base of the pot. Made by Good Earth Organics, Hoffman Perlite is a lightweight soil mix that focuses on improving aeration and drainage. Most plants require more acidic conditions. For potted plants, use one third perlite and two thirds potting soil. Cuttings can be rooted in this same mixture, or you can increase the perlite up to 100 percent. Adding perlite to your soil also increases humidity, which some plants need to thrive. The plant roots grow around the particles and take in whatever moisture they need and since the particles of vermiculite take a long time to dry out, moisture is always there for the plant, enabling it to grow quicker and more healthy.” It is one of the three combined ingredients in his recommended soil recipe for the popular Square Foot Gardening method. It makes the compost more moisture-retentive, as it can absorb 4 times its weight in water. Garden Guides covers Vermiculite VS Perlite, Gardening Know How covers Vermiculite Growing Medium, Get Busy Gardening covers DIY Succulent Potting Soil, Maximum Yield covers Perlite for Hydroponic Gardens, Schundler Company Using Perlite in Potted Plants, covers What is Vermiculite, Washington Post covers More on Potting Mix, © 2020 The Vermiculite Association: 2207 Forest Hills Drive, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17112 (United States). Vermiculite retains moisture (about 200% – 300% by weight), and perlite doesn’t so you can balance your growing medium so that it retains water and nutrients well but still supplies the roots with plenty of oxygen. WHAT IS VERMICULITE USED FOR IN GARDENING? For plants that love water, vermiculite is the better soil additive, but if it’s used with plants that don’t require a moist soil, it can contribute to the development of root rot. I’ve talked about how perlite is useful for starting seeds, and rooting propagated cuttings because of its sterile nature and ability to drain excess water quickly. Unlike peat or coco coir, perlite doesn’t come from an organic source and is superheated during its creation. It has high water retention and high nutrient retention levels. Two popular choices are perlite and vermiculite. Perlite contains an amount of alkaline between 7.0 and 7.5 pH, which makes it a bit dangerous of used too much. Perlite is formed by molten (magmatic) rock, also known as volcanic glass. So how do you know which one you should choose? Add a healthy scoop of vermiculite to the potting soil of plants that like lots of water. Both mediums are used as an ingredient in soilless potting mixes that are made for the cultivation of plants as well as for seed germination, propagation, hydroponics, containers, and transplants. You live in a dry region where your growing medium needs to conserve water. Vermiculite is an all-natural mineral product that increases nutrient retention levels and water retention. Vermiculite currently on the market does not contain asbestos. Although it’s a common misconception, vermiculite and perlite are not the same. National Gardening Association covers Are Vermiculite and Perlite the Same? It is mined from various regions across the world and processed under immense heat until the structure is altered. Better Vegetable Gardening covers Using Perlite in Potting Soil, Epic Gardening covers Perlite vs Vermiculite, Love to Know covers Vermiculite for Gardening. Perlite doesn’t retain water as well and dries out too quickly, so it’s unsuitable for such plants. perlite-In horticulture it makes composts more open to air, while still having good water-retention properties; it makes a good medium for hydroponics Vermiculite- Blocking mixes Hydroponics Micro-propagation Potting mixes Rooting cuttings Seed germination Seedling wedgemix Sowing composts The medium is considered safe for commercial and personal use. They are also used in indoor container growing, on lawns and composting; Perlite and vermiculite, when used for water retention, do not cause root rot, mold development, or plant death. Many plants thrive in high humidity, so if that’s a concern in your garden, perlite is right for you. But I also feel that vermiculite can inhibit drainage, especially in potted plants, due to the flat platy nature especially of the larger particles, and after it's been around for a while. Vermiculite may cause the root to rot … Vermiculite is magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate. Don't Wait, Sale Ends 12/24! Vermiculite may cause the root to rot in plants that like the soil to dry before being watered again. The final product looks like small pellets composed of many layers. Location: Southern alps, on the French side of the french /italian border 5000ft elevation . Most plants can be grown with success in perlite without anything else added to it. Our comprehensive guide makes it easy to understand perlite vs vermiculite. When the mining and processing is done organically, vermiculite is organic. It’s suitable for starting seeds, storing bulbs, and propagating cuttings. This rumor originated when vermiculite out of a mine in Libby, Montana was found contaminated with asbestos. Using vermiculite for rooting plants for propagation is exceptionally straightforward. As a naturally occurring mineral, vermiculite is very safe to use. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that humans mine, heat up, and package for gardeners to use. Growing herbs in perlite. WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT USING PERLITE VERSUS VERMICULITE? Of course, you can also use perlite as a standalone growing medium, but it can be difficult to manage in a high-water system. Propagation using Vermiculite and Perlite. Vermiculite Vs. Perlite. There is no definitive answer – some gardeners swear by perlite while others are adamant that vermiculite is the way to go. If sterility concerns you, soak the perlite in 10% bleach for 30 minutes and rinse afterward. Opt for vermiculite to start seeds or whenever you’re working with plants that need their soil to retain moisture. Rumors to the contrary that you may have heard are linked to one mine, which is now closed, which produced vermiculite tainted with asbestos fibers. The most common way to use perlite is in propagating plants by cuttings. If you are standing in the gardening center, trying to figure out which additive your soil needs the most, wondering what the difference is between perlite and vermiculite, then this article is for you. Vermiculite vs. Perlite. Thus, in the perlite vs vermiculite discussion, whereas perlite is adequate for cuttings and splitting, vermiculite is recommended for seedlings. Vermiculite is a silicate material that’s brown or beige in color and has a soft, sponge-like texture. It has a pH of 6.6 to 7.5. If you have a plant that requires a lot of water, mixing a scoop of vermiculite or using it alone is the correct path to go. Perlite is an excellent amendment for clay soil when you want to increase the drainage and aeration of the soil. Cuttings can use this mix too, or you can up the perlite to 100 percent. No problem! Use one part potting soil (choosing one without vermiculite that offers excellent drainage), one part coarse sand, and one part perlite. Note: You must never use perlite in an aquaponics system as fish can breathe in the tiny particles and clog their gills. In its natural state, vermiculite looks like mica. I love sharing my knowledge with readers here on IGT. All herbs can be started using perlite as the sole growing media. It doesn’t rot or mold and is completely sterile and non-toxic. Add vermiculite to soil when you’re making a seed starting mixture or whenever your plants need water to stay locked into soil so it’s consistently moist. Garden beds get a two-inch layer of perlite mixed into the top six to 12 inches of your garden soil. The bag of perlite on that shelf begins its life as volcanic glass, but not just any volcanic glass. After soaking in the bleach mixture for 20 minutes, rinse thoroughly. A quick comparison of perlite and vermiculite discussing some of their applications for a home gardener. WHAT DOES VERMICULITE DO IN POTTING SOIL? This ratio may differ in hotter climates where a higher water-holding capacity may be desired. Perlite dries out too quickly for water-loving plants. Perlite and vermiculite contain spaces in the particles for better aeration, allowing the root of the plant to take more oxygen. Shop here! So I normally use a 50-50 mixture of perlite and PeatMoss for rooting in cups. Perlite can help water drain out of your soil, while vermiculite retains the water. Perlite and Vermiculite have some differences. Perlite is a naturally occurring volcanic rock that has been heated and crushed until it changes in color and texture. So while it may not cut you, it’s coarse and will damage soft tissue, such as the gills of fish. Perlite is optimal when it comes to rooting cuttings from established plants because it helps prevent the rot that can otherwise be a challenge. Vermiculite increases soil’s ability to retain water, letting it hold on to more moisture and stay damp longer. Both products are inorganic, lightweight, and relatively sterile. This rumor is due to some vermiculite that happened to be contaminated with asbestos in a mine in Libby, Montana, which was closed in 1990 due to the contamination. Analyzing perlite vs vermiculite, we define that they have two different purposes. They also are used in a variety of specialty applications ranging from fireproofing sprays, chimney fills, interstitial floors, acoustical sprays, etc. If you plan to use perlite alone, a drip system or bucket system will function better than an ebb and flow system. Although perlite does resemble Styrofoam, it is not Styrofoam. gardener Posts: 3298. Use perlite to root cuttings or grow cacti, succulents, epiphytes, and other plants that benefit from quickly draining soil with plenty of aeration. Since perlite doesn’t retain much water, efforts must be taken to keep roots continuously wet. Once wet, the dust shouldn’t be a problem. As a lightweight particle, perlite also prevents other organic ingredients from compacting one another. This means that it is capable of holding several times its own weight in water. Perlite helps avoid water-logged growing media. This perlite has an increased nutrient holding capacity if water-soluble fertilizers are used, and because of its light weight, root systems and fine stems aren’t damaged. Both perlite and vermiculite are lightweight substitutes for soilless potting mixes to improve texture and aeration. Water retention in vermiculite is far superior to perlite, leading to more robust and healthier plants. Perlite and vermiculite are both used to improve moisture retention and aeration in soil. In terms of porosity, perlite has a high air porosity and vermiculite is identified as having medium air porosity. Much more than perlite. There’s really no need to mix perlite and vermiculite because each of them is best suited for different situations. Vermiculite is ideal for plants that need a lot of water such as forget-me-nots and irises. You live in a region with a humid climate. Since perlite holds air very well, it can help you deal with a lack of oxygen. That should give you an idea of the quality you can expect. Mixing perlite into the soil in your outdoor garden beds or combining it with potting soil or another medium is the most common way to use perlite. Companies heavily mine both substances. The water trapped in the volcanic glass has a popcorn-like reaction when superheated and crushed, turning the substance white and making it foam-like. Would a burn chamber cast from a mix of vermiculite (or perlite) and refractory cement hold up? The final product is light and has many tiny nooks and crannies. Perlite is basically a volcanic rock and vermiculite is a natural mineral. Vermiculite and perlite do share many qualities. Perlite and vermiculite have many similarities but they differ in a few crucial characteristics, which makes them well-suited for different situations. If sterility is a concern, you can sterilize your perlite in 10 percent bleach solution. Perlite can be processed organically. Both are odorless, sterile, disease-free, insect-free, and seed-free. They offer the following features: In addition, both media are used as a carrier for dry fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides. Dip the cut end of each cutting in the rooting hormone and push it into the prepared vermiculite. You will need to water your plants, of course, and supply them with nutrients from an appropriate fertilizer. Refunds/Returns Policy • It reduces the caking of soil and loosens clay soil. (If you aren’t sure what your soil’s pH level is, our article “How to Test pH in Your Soil” can help.). Also, when growing cannabis plants with vermiculite, they are more prone to root rots. Save On LED Grow Lights, Grow Tent Kits, Hydroponic Systems & Much More During Our 12 Days of Deals Sale! If you’re looking for a soil additive to help make sure plants get plenty of drainage and aeration, perlite is a better option. The vermiculite will stop the soil from being too compacted, it makes the compost more aerated and free draining. Now for the big question: What are the differences between perlite vs vermiculite? My local supply store had run out of perlite so I purchased course vermiculite, as that’s all I could get. These pockets retain water and improve both drainage capabilities and aeration, which are crucial features in hydroponic gardening. Perlite is harder, is white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock. The general ratio is a 50/50 formula that ensures the mix isn’t washed away in ebb and flow systems. That makes perlite beneficial for plants that are susceptible to rot diseases. Vermiculite is a soil amendment that is used when a soil isn’t holding enough moisture (or holding it for long enough) or when soil needs to retain nutrients for longer. Perlite and pumice are two coarse, pebblelike materials that are mixed into potting mediums to help aeration and water drainage for plant roots. Using vermiculite as an amendment means your roots are getting less oxygen for it. To start seeds, use a mix of half perlite and half peat. This rooting medium is ideal for cuttings because of its moisture-retentive properties and neutral pH levels. When a perlite manufacturer heats this glass, it pops into white balls. To make your own soilless mix, blend Hoffman Perlite with vermiculite and peat moss. Skimmed the article above? Mel Bartholomew, author of Square Foot Gardening, describes vermiculite this way, “As you probably know it holds water yet drains when it’s filled, just like a sponge does. Here’s when to use perlite vs vermiculite. It can be a vital and inexpensive form of pest control. Perlite is harder, is white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock. Both perlite and vermiculite are highly porous, making them able to hold water in the soil so it’s available for your plants. Perlite’s low water retention makes it a perfect match for rhododendrons, succulents, or cacti, which require well-drained soil. However, the difference in how much water they retain makes the two substances better suited for different applications. This makes it suitable for delicate plants like lettuce. Vermiculite . A rooting hormone powder or gel can speed root formation. The two additives are similar, but they are distinctly different in a few important ways. Vermiculite is widely used in commercial hydroponics, in seed starting, plants rooting, and as a soil conditioner. Be warned though: Since vermiculite absorbs up to 4 times its volume in water, your pot may be heavier than expected. Perlite is best for those plants which require water, but not stagnant water. If you’ve ever stood clueless at your local gardening center trying to decide whether perlite or vermiculite is best for your plants, this is the right article for you. This means there’s no way fungi, bacteria, or pests can make a home in perlite. The complete soil recipe consists of one third vermiculite, one third compost, and one third peat moss. Both perlite and vermiculite are put to use in the garden to improve drainage, prevent compacted soil and increase moisture retention. Perlite helps insulate plant’s roots from extreme temperature fluxuations. Perlite allows the excess water to drain but is also capable of retaining lots of moisture in its pores, thus … Similar to perlite, vermiculite isn’t sourced from natural, raw materials and is processed under massive heat, eliminating the possibility of any bacteria or fungi. Vermiculite can get quite soggy, but perlite doesn't to nearly the same extent, so I suppose the argument that it retains moisture better than perlite is probably true. And of course, both are used as a soil amendment to aerate soil—though perlite provides more aeration than vermiculite. Perlite specializes in aerating soil and helping it to drain quickly. While rooting cuttings in perlite creates an extra step, since once the cuttings have developed roots, they need to be transplanted into potting soil, there appears to be fewer cuttings lost to rot using this method. If you’re looking for professional-grade perlite, you can’t go wrong with PVP Industries. 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