My name is John and I'm a Manager & Greenhouse Grower for a farm in Northern California that specializes in sustainable agriculture. The final product is light and has many tiny nooks and crannies. WHAT IS VERMICULITE USED FOR IN GARDENING? If your soil is of poor quality, adding half the soil’s weight in vermiculite (add it deep in the container) can quickly improve the quality. Vermiculite and perlite also differ when it comes to pH level, which may be a consideration when you’re choosing which to add to your soil. 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. Note: Perlite is often dusty when dry and it’s highly recommended you wear a mask when handling dry perlite. Yes, perlite can be used again after it’s been used to grow plants. Although perlite does resemble Styrofoam, it is not Styrofoam. Perlite is used in potting soil frequently because it’s a great amendment for increasing the drainage of soil, loosening it up, and letting air circulate through the soil more freely. For example, with an infection like Pythium, you can wipe out the disease from the perlite and sterilize it with bleach or heat before using it with new crops. Has anyone else had this experience or should I Vermiculite aerates soil and increases its ability to retain moisture (holding more water for longer) and retain nutrients, making them more consistently available to your plants. I haven't found a good local source for bark nuggets. Vermiculite retains water. It’s a naturally occurring mineral that’s superheated and crushed. Vermiculite holds water extremely well and is the go-to option for water loving plants. 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. How much perlite to add depends on what you want to grow. Add perlite to your soil for plants which need their soil to dry out between waterings, such as cacti or succulents. Put in clamshelled, clear salad containers, in indirect light, and come back in 6 - 10 weeks. Garden beds get a two-inch layer of perlite mixed into the top six to 12 inches of your garden soil. To start seeds, use a mix of half perlite and half peat. Most plants can be grown with success in perlite without anything else added to it. This ratio may differ in hotter climates where a higher water-holding capacity may be desired. Perlite and Vermiculite have some differences. The use of vermiculite in such situations can lead to root rot or death. However, vermiculite holds more moisture and keeps it available in the soil longer than perlite will. Using vermiculite as an amendment means your roots are getting less oxygen for it. I find that the vermiculite doesn’t hold the mixture moist as long as perlite does . Web Design Harrisburg PA, WebTek, www.gardeningchannel.com/perlite-versus-vermiculite, Perlite is great for seed starting mixes and blending your own custom potting soil mix, Helps lighten and loosen heavy, compacted soils, White granular pieces that contain about 6 percent water, Holds nutrients and three to four times its weight in water, Tends to float to the top of potted plant containers due to its light weight, Great for seed starting or blending your own custom potting soil mix, Helps to lighten and loosen heavy, compacted soil types, Helps soil retain moisture and gives plants nutrients. Perlite . Vermiculite is best used for water-loving plants that need their soil to stay moist at all times. That means vermiculite is a permanent way to amend and improve your soil. Since it’s light and easy to handle, it will easily mix with composted pine bark, peat, soil, fertilizers, pesticides, and other compost organic materials. Vermiculite traps water inside, just like a sponge. Satamax Antone. Cuttings can use this mix too, or you can up the perlite to 100 percent. Although perlite doesn’t hold onto water as long as vermiculite, it boosts the humidity as it releases the water. Both perlite and vermiculite are lightweight substitutes for soilless potting mixes to improve texture and aeration. Vermiculite mines exist in South Africa, China, Russia, and Brazil. It is mined from various regions across the world and processed under immense heat until the structure is altered. I haven't found a … Vermiculite increases soil’s ability to retain water, letting it hold on to more moisture and stay damp longer. Made by Good Earth Organics, Hoffman Perlite is a lightweight soil mix that focuses on improving aeration and drainage. Perlite is also an excellent option for rooting cuttings or growing cacti, succulents, and epiphytes. It has high water retention and high nutrient retention levels. Perlite comes from volcanic glass, giving it a ton of small pore. 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. Vermiculite may cause the root to rot in plants that like the soil to dry before being watered again. Perlite and vermiculite are used to propagate new plants and seed cultivations. Vermiculite is well-suited for plants that require damp soil that shouldn’t dry out. Perlite vs Vermiculite: 2 Very Different Mineral-Based Growing Media (+When To Use Each) June 22, 2020 by Naveedh Samad 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. They are both also commonly used as carriers in dry fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to improve coverage. There is no definitive answer – some gardeners swear by perlite while others are adamant that vermiculite is the way to go. Vermiculite in potting soil also helps the soil retain nutrients and keep them available for plants. He calls vermiculite, “the most marvelous natural material,” and says that even though perlite is much cheaper, he doesn’t mind paying up for vermiculite, particularly the coarser size of the material. The amount of water that vermiculite holds is too much for plants like cacti, succulents, or rhododendrons, which need a well-draining soil. The light weight of vermiculite makes it perfect for plants with delicate root systems such as lettuce. Before reusing, pick through the perlite to remove material like root segments. Till or loosen your clay soil to a depth of six to 12 inches, then spread a four-inch layer of perlite across the top. 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. What do you think is best for your hydroponic garden? This rooting medium is ideal for cuttings because of its moisture-retentive properties and neutral pH levels. All herbs can be started using perlite as the sole growing media. Some are particularly efficient at retaining minerals, some help with aerating, and others retain water. Perlite is lightweight, odorless, clean, and easy to handle. Use perlite to root cuttings or grow cacti, succulents, epiphytes, and other plants that benefit from quickly draining soil with plenty of aeration. 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. Perlite and vermiculite are both used to improve moisture retention and aeration in soil. Save On LED Grow Lights, Grow Tent Kits, Hydroponic Systems & Much More During Our 12 Days of Deals Sale! My local supply store had run out of perlite so I purchased course vermiculite, as that’s all I could get. Use one part potting soil (choosing one without vermiculite that offers excellent drainage), one part coarse sand, and one part perlite. For seed starting, use half perlite and half peat. It’s formed when obsidian comes into contact with water, creating a unique volcanic glass with high water content. —John Muir Live/Work Barn . 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. Vermiculite is also a great choice when you’re working with plants that are susceptible to damping off or other fungal diseases. Remember that both perlite and vermiculite can improve your soil conditions, but they do so in different ways. The bag of perlite on that shelf begins its life as volcanic glass, but not just any volcanic glass. It is an all-natural mineral product that is mined out of the ground and then processed into a soil additive that mainly increases water retention and nutrient retention levels in soil. 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. We like Perlite and Vermiculite for their individual insulating properties - especially when they can be poured into and fill a cavity. They are used in a similar manner, but they are not interchangeable. Rinse it thoroughly when you’re done. Your go-to source for indoor grow guides and equipment reviews. Much more than perlite. I have my Masters in Horticulture and have been working to advance hydroponic growing techniques for almost 30 years. Unlike perlite, vermiculite isn’t known to provide excellent aeration as it works as more of a sponge and absorbs more water than perlite. And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul. They offer the following features: In addition, both media are used as a carrier for dry fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides. Perlite and vermiculite have been used for years as an aggregate in lightweight, insulating concrete and plaster, and as a loose fill insulation material for concrete masonry blocks, cavity walls, and in residential homes. Vermiculite is also the go-to when it comes to starting seeds because it protects seedlings against damping-off and other fungal diseases that can threaten them as they start to grow. Perlite is harder, is white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock. 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. For potted plants, use one third perlite and two thirds potting soil. They are both used in propagation of new plants and for seed starting and cultivation for indoor growing, outdoor growing, and composting. Once wet, the dust shouldn’t be a problem. The Espoma Company has built up quite a reputation over the decades. If you look closely at perlite, you’ll see it is a collection of little bubbles. Thanks in advance for any input. There’s really no need to mix perlite and vermiculite because each of them is best suited for different situations. Note: A popular piece of misinformation is that vermiculite contains asbestos or that it’s a form of asbestos. You’re repotting outdoor plants. You live in a region with a humid climate. Vermiculite is ideal for plants that need a lot of water such as forget-me-nots and irises. I love sharing my knowledge with readers here on IGT. Thus, in the perlite vs vermiculite discussion, whereas perlite is adequate for cuttings and splitting, vermiculite is recommended for seedlings. Analyzing perlite vs vermiculite, we define that they have two different purposes. One major difference lies in the fact that perlite originates from volcanic glass, whereas vermiculite contains mica, a sheet silicate mineral. Opt for vermiculite to start seeds or whenever you’re working with plants that need their soil to retain moisture. 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. However, the difference in how much water they retain makes the two substances better suited for different applications. Perlite is harder, is white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock. So while it may not cut you, it’s coarse and will damage soft tissue, such as the gills of fish. The complete soil recipe consists of one third vermiculite, one third compost, and one third peat moss. Contrary to rumor, vermiculite does not contain asbestos and it is not a type of asbestos. The mine was closed in 1990 and vermiculite from other mines has been proven to be harmless. Using vermiculite for plants like these could lead to root rot or death. Since perlite holds air very well, it can help you deal with a lack of oxygen. Also, when growing cannabis plants with vermiculite, they are more prone to root rots. Additionally, because the cuttings drain well, you eliminate the possibility of root rot. Perlite is made from volcanic glass (obsidian) with water trapped inside that is then superheated by humans and crushed until it changes in color and texture. To make your own soilless mix, blend Hoffman Perlite with vermiculite and peat moss. Neither medium will rot, deteriorate, or decompose. When We must use them and any other material to rigid-ize them, like when well make a Heat Riser The materials we use - most often a clay slurry - we end up reducing their insulating value ! A rooting hormone powder or gel can speed root formation. Like perlite, vermiculite is an effective soil conditioner that can loosen compacted soil, provide drainage, and hold three to four times its weight in water. Perlite helps insulate plant’s roots from extreme temperature fluxuations. 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 Companies heavily mine both substances. If the plants you’re growing need the soil to stay on the wetter side, opt for vermiculite. Although it’s a common misconception, vermiculite and perlite are not the same. Perlite helps avoid water-logged growing media. The high water retention of vermiculite can suffocate your plants if you aren’t careful. Perlite vs. Pumice. Don't Wait, Sale Ends 12/24! Vermiculite and perlite do share many qualities. Propagation using Vermiculite and Perlite. This means there’s no way fungi, bacteria, or pests can make a home in perlite. Perlite contains an amount of alkaline between 7.0 and 7.5 pH, which makes it a bit dangerous of used too much. Both perlite and vermiculite are put to use in the garden to improve drainage, prevent compacted soil and increase moisture retention. (Use water to dilute.) Perlite is harder, is white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock. 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. This is just another look at how the beans are doing and some growth comparisons Vermiculite holds water like a sponge. Vermiculite from other sources has since been tested and proven to be asbestos free and harmless. In its natural state, vermiculite looks like mica. (If you aren’t sure what your soil’s pH level is, our article “How to Test pH in Your Soil” can help.). This rumor originated when vermiculite out of a mine in Libby, Montana was found contaminated with asbestos. Both products are inorganic, lightweight, and relatively sterile. I myself like to use an already mixed recipe, Sunshine #4 mix, this is formulated with Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, coarse grade perlite, gypsum, Dolomitic lime, and a wetting agent. And of course, both are used as a soil amendment to aerate soil—though perlite provides more aeration than vermiculite. WHAT DOES VERMICULITE DO IN POTTING SOIL? It’s suitable for starting seeds, storing bulbs, and propagating cuttings. Both are odorless, sterile, disease-free, insect-free, and seed-free. When you add perlite to soil, you’re permanently changing its texture and making it better for growing plants. But — and this is an important but — vermiculite is more compressible and less porous than perlite, giving vermiculite higher water-holding capacity when it’s used as a planting medium. You can use straight perlite or vermiculite to root cuttings, or add to soil-less mixes, either one or both will be fine. Perlite allows the excess water to drain but is also capable of retaining lots of moisture in its pores, thus … TVA is professionally managed by Calabrese Management, an association management company. In terms of porosity, perlite has a high air porosity and vermiculite is identified as having medium air porosity. A rooting gel, like Clonox, can help further accelerate root growth. Vermiculite is an all-natural mineral product that increases nutrient retention levels and water retention. It looks similar to mica with its layers or stacks, which are suited for trapping water. Perlite is made from volcanic rock, which is heated and crushed until it explodes in order to transform the rock into small white pieces. Be warned though: Since vermiculite absorbs up to 4 times its volume in water, your pot may be heavier than expected. Vermiculite does not break down or decompose when it’s used in potting soil. Vermiculite is a silicate material that’s brown or beige in color and has a soft, sponge-like texture. Dip the cut end of each cutting in the rooting hormone and push it into the prepared vermiculite. Both perlite and vermiculite are highly porous, making them able to hold water in the soil so it’s available for your plants. Perlite vs. vermiculite: How do you know which one to use in the garden? Perlite and vermiculite are both lightweight sand substitutes for soilless potting mixes which are often used to improve aeration and texture in potting soil and garden soil mixtures. Vermiculite is perfect for plants that enjoy lots of water, such as some irises and forget-me-nots. Perlite and pumice are two coarse, pebblelike materials that are mixed into potting mediums to help aeration and water drainage for plant roots. Vermiculite is also the best choice if the plants in your garden are sensitive to alkalinity in the soil. Both of them expand when exposed to heat and that too at high temperature. This makes it suitable for delicate plants like lettuce. Refunds/Returns Policy • The general ratio is a 50/50 formula that ensures the mix isn’t washed away in ebb and flow systems. Vermiculite retains water. Perlite doesn’t retain water as well and dries out too quickly, so it’s unsuitable for such plants. Simply mix 50% perlite with 50% vermiculite, add enough water so it's moist, and fill your small containers. This is why it’s generally mixed with other media, most often perlite because the two complement each other quite well: Vermiculite retains water and perlite drains quickly. 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. Would a burn chamber cast from a mix of vermiculite (or perlite) and refractory cement hold up? If your clay soil could use a boost of organic material, use half perlite and half peat for this process. That should give you an idea of the quality you can expect. Due to this property of Perlite and Vermiculite, they are commercially used for gardening purpose and are popular rooting mediums. When a perlite manufacturer heats this glass, it pops into white balls. Our comprehensive guide makes it easy to understand perlite vs vermiculite. It doesn’t rot or mold and is completely sterile and non-toxic. It has a pH of 6.6 to 7.5. WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT USING PERLITE VERSUS VERMICULITE? Vermiculite is better suited for starting seeds and other situations when plants require plenty of moisture consistently available in their soil. Water in, solidifying the perlite around the cuttings, until water starts to run out the base of the pot. If sterility is a concern, you can sterilize your perlite in 10 percent bleach solution. That’s because perlite doesn’t decompose and doesn’t hold onto nutrients. The most common way to use perlite is in propagating plants by cuttings. To reuse your perlite, simply pick through it to remove any plant bits you find, such as root segments. Using vermiculite for rooting plants for propagation is exceptionally straightforward. You will need to water your plants, of course, and supply them with nutrients from an appropriate fertilizer. If you’re looking for a soil additive to help make sure plants get plenty of drainage and aeration, perlite is a better option. Potted plants can use a third perlite and an appropriate potting soil for the rest. Perlite’s low water retention makes it a perfect match for rhododendrons, succulents, or cacti, which require well-drained soil. Perlite is slightly alkaline, while vermiculite … If sterility concerns you, soak the perlite in 10% bleach for 30 minutes and rinse afterward. Perlite is also the best option for planting epiphytes, cacti, succulents, and other plants that require plenty of drainage and aeration (and can tolerate a slightly higher pH level). 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 currently on the market does not contain asbestos. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF PERLITE IN POTTING SOIL? Like perlite, vermiculite also has … The drainage and air circulation perlite offers makes it an excellent soil amendment for growing succulents. Two popular choices are perlite and vermiculite. Perlite does not decompose over time because it is made from superheated volcanic rock. Credit: www.gardeningchannel.com/perlite-versus-vermiculite. You live in a dry region where your growing medium needs to conserve water. Let us know in the comments! Note: You must never use perlite in an aquaponics system as fish can breathe in the tiny particles and clog their gills. If you plan to use perlite alone, a drip system or bucket system will function better than an ebb and flow system. Perlite is slightly alkaline, while vermiculite … It makes the compost more moisture-retentive, as it can absorb 4 times its weight in water. Because perlite is porous, it acts as a natural filtration system, draining excess water while retaining some moisture and catching important nutrients required by your plants. Look for packaging marked “organic.”. Perlite is basically a volcanic rock and vermiculite is a natural mineral. 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. Terms and Conditions • Vermiculite’s water-holding capability makes it perfect as an anti-caking agent in dry pesticides and fertilizers. The use of vermiculite in such situations can lead to root rot or death Vermiculite is ideal for plants that need a lot of water such as forget-me-nots and irises. It doesn’t create mold or root rot and holds up moisture very well. Vermiculite vs. Perlite. Vermiculite is magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate. The final product looks like small pellets composed of many layers. Perlite can be processed organically. I add Perlite to my growing mix to aerate it and sometimes I sprinkle fine Vermiculite over my seeds to cover them (in lieu of using the more expensive, but possibly better, milled Sphagnum moss). It can be a vital and inexpensive form of pest control. Vermiculite . 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. Due to its sterile pH neutral state, perlite doesn’t affect the water or attract pests, which is a constant concern with soil. It’s also used as a protective coating on pelleted seeds. You’ll need to regularly replace perlite because the pores can become clogged with roots, algae, and nutrients, but it can be reused because it doesn’t decompose. Water retention in vermiculite is far superior to perlite, leading to more robust and healthier plants. Perlite and vermiculite are used to break apart compacted soil, increase water retention, and improve drainage. Many plants thrive in high humidity, so if that’s a concern in your garden, perlite is right for you. Growing herbs in perlite. Mel has always been a big fan of vermiculite and thinks that it is far superior to perlite. 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. If you’re looking for professional-grade perlite, you can’t go wrong with PVP Industries. Perlite is slightly alkaline, while vermiculite tends to be closer to neutral. Look for packaging that is labeled “organic.”, Vermiculite can be organic, but it is not always organic. Perlite is formed by molten (magmatic) rock, also known as volcanic glass. rooting hormone (optional) Olivia's Cloning Solution or OT1 cloning solution (optional) heating pad (optional) Perlite and vermiculite, combined at a 1:1 ratio, make an effective, cheap, and widely available cloning medium. Alternatives to Vermiculite & Perlite. Unlike peat or coco coir, perlite doesn’t come from an organic source and is superheated during its creation. As a naturally occurring mineral, vermiculite is very safe to use. Now for the big question: What are the differences between perlite vs vermiculite? The two additives are similar, but they are distinctly different in a few important ways. 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