Perlite and Vermiculite differ from each other in the basic functioning. The vermiculite will stop the soil from being too compacted, it makes the compost more aerated and free draining. Vermiculite traps water inside, just like a sponge. 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. This makes it suitable for delicate plants like lettuce. 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. It’s also used as a protective coating on pelleted seeds. The drainage and air circulation perlite offers makes it an excellent soil amendment for growing succulents. There is no definitive answer – some gardeners swear by perlite while others are adamant that vermiculite is the way to go. Alternatives to Vermiculite & Perlite. Perlite doesn’t retain water as well and dries out too quickly, so it’s unsuitable for such plants. It makes the compost more moisture-retentive, as it can absorb 4 times its weight in water. 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. 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. So how do you know which one you should choose? Like perlite, vermiculite also has … Perlite retains air. 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. What to Remember about Vermiculite vs. Perlite. Since vermiculate breaks down after some time, it’s a preferred medium for short-term plants like lettuce. Unlike perlite, vermiculite isn’t known to provide excellent aeration as it works as more of a sponge and absorbs more water than perlite. Vermiculite helps hold moisture in the soil so it’s consistently available for plants to use. It’s formed when obsidian comes into contact with water, creating a unique volcanic glass with high water content. To start seeds, use a mix of half perlite and half peat. If you plan to use perlite alone, a drip system or bucket system will function better than an ebb and flow system. It reduces the caking of soil and loosens clay soil. For seed starting, use half perlite and half peat. Cuttings can be rooted in this same mixture, or you can increase the perlite up to 100 percent. 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. Perlite is an excellent amendment for clay soil when you want to increase the drainage and aeration of the soil. Perlite can resolve any present anaerobic zones since the air pockets hold oxygen. WHAT DOES VERMICULITE DO IN POTTING SOIL? Propagation using Vermiculite and Perlite. Skimmed the article above? WHAT IS VERMICULITE USED FOR IN GARDENING? 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. Black Gold is the retail arm of Sun Gro Horticulture, North America’s largest manufacturer of horticultural-grade peat. Perlite and vermiculite contain spaces in the particles for better aeration, allowing the root of the plant to take more oxygen. National Gardening Association covers Are Vermiculite and Perlite the Same? Vermiculite and perlite do share many qualities. 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. Even though It has a great capacity to keep the soil mix from compacting, Perlite should be used moderately, or it will cause some minor nutrient issues. However, vermiculite holds more moisture and keeps it available in the soil longer than perlite will. Read on to learn more about these two all-natural soil amendments that gardeners use to change the water retention and nutrient retention levels in their garden soil. Perlite can help water drain out of your soil, while vermiculite retains the water. Perlite and vermiculite are used to propagate new plants and seed cultivations. Perlite doesn't really hold water, it holds some water in open pores, but it's readily available to air and other soil components to absorb it out of the open pore. Thus, in the perlite vs vermiculite discussion, whereas perlite is adequate for cuttings and splitting, vermiculite is recommended for seedlings. When the mining and processing is done organically, vermiculite is organic. Both perlite and vermiculite are highly porous, making them able to hold water in the soil so it’s available for your plants. I love sharing my knowledge with readers here on IGT. Be warned though: Since vermiculite absorbs up to 4 times its volume in water, your pot may be heavier than expected. Since perlite doesn’t retain much water, efforts must be taken to keep roots continuously wet. 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. The mine was closed in 1990 and vermiculite from other mines has been proven to be harmless. 164. posted 3 years ago. Perlite can also offer a humidity boost to plants that need it. If you’re looking for a soil additive to help make sure plants get plenty of drainage and aeration, perlite is a better option. 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. To reuse your perlite, simply pick through it to remove any plant bits you find, such as root segments. Vermiculite Vs Perlite. 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. Both perlite and vermiculite are put to use in the garden to improve drainage, prevent compacted soil and increase moisture retention. Although perlite doesn’t hold onto water as long as vermiculite, it boosts the humidity as it releases the water. Most plants require more acidic conditions. The high water retention of vermiculite can suffocate your plants if you aren’t careful. This rumor originated when vermiculite out of a mine in Libby, Montana was found contaminated with asbestos. Potted plants can use a third perlite and an appropriate potting soil for the rest. You can always rinse perlite and use it again unless you have a disease floating around and you don’t have any way to sterilize the perlite. The use of vermiculite in such situations can lead to root rot or death. Vermiculite is well-suited for plants that require damp soil that shouldn’t dry out. Mel has always been a big fan of vermiculite and thinks that it is far superior to perlite. 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. Vermiculite is best used for water-loving plants that need their soil to stay moist at all times. 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. Thus, in the perlite vs vermiculite discussion, whereas perlite is adequate for cuttings and splitting, vermiculite is recommended for seedlings. Perlite allows the excess water to drain but is also capable of retaining lots of moisture in its pores, thus … Remember that both perlite and vermiculite can improve your soil conditions, but they do so in different ways. And of course, both are used as a soil amendment to aerate soil—though perlite provides more aeration than vermiculite. Using vermiculite as an amendment means your roots are getting less oxygen for it. You live in a dry region where your growing medium needs to conserve water. Would a burn chamber cast from a mix of vermiculite (or perlite) and refractory cement hold up? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF PERLITE IN POTTING SOIL? Vermiculite holds water like a sponge. Perlite is best for those plants which require water, but not stagnant water. Shop here! Don't Wait, Sale Ends 12/24! Due to its sterile pH neutral state, perlite doesn’t affect the water or attract pests, which is a constant concern with soil. They are both also commonly used as carriers in dry fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to improve coverage. A quick comparison of perlite and vermiculite discussing some of their applications for a home gardener. All herbs can be started using perlite as the sole growing media. Water in, solidifying the perlite around the cuttings, until water starts to run out the base of the pot. Put in clamshelled, clear salad containers, in indirect light, and come back in 6 - 10 weeks. For potted plants, use one third perlite and two thirds potting soil. Although perlite does resemble Styrofoam, it is not Styrofoam. Neither medium will rot, deteriorate, or decompose. For garden beds, spread a two-inch layer of perlite, then mix it into the top six to 12 inches of soil. 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). Vermiculite is a pH neutral natural material made of mica which has an enormous surface area due to its laminated structure. The final product is light and has many tiny nooks and crannies. 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. Perlite is harder, is white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock. Vermiculite is perfect for plants that enjoy lots of water, such as some irises and forget-me-nots. It doesn’t rot or mold and is completely sterile and non-toxic. Perlite is slightly alkaline, while vermiculite tends to be closer to neutral. That makes perlite beneficial for plants that are susceptible to rot diseases. Rooting Media; Growing Medium; Potting Mix; Soilless Mixes; Potting Soil; Hyrdo (ponics) Each option for a soilless mix offers its own benefits. Perlite is harder, is white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock. 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. It is added to soil mixes in order to improve the drainage capability of both soil-based and soilless potting mixes. 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. Add a healthy scoop of vermiculite to the potting soil of plants that like lots of water. It’s suitable for starting seeds, storing bulbs, and propagating cuttings. Both of them expand when exposed to heat and that too at high temperature. Let us know in the comments! They are used in a similar manner, but they are not interchangeable. 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 ! 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. 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. Perlite specializes in aerating soil and helping it to drain quickly. 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. Vermiculite is ideal for plants that need a lot of water such as forget-me-nots and irises. Vermiculite vs Perlite. gardener Posts: 3298. Much more than perlite. This ratio may differ in hotter climates where a higher water-holding capacity may be desired. It has a pH of 6.6 to 7.5. Of course, you can also use perlite as a standalone growing medium, but it can be difficult to manage in a high-water system. It has high water retention and high nutrient retention levels. Adding perlite to your soil also increases humidity, which some plants need to thrive. 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. If you look closely at perlite, you’ll see it is a collection of little bubbles. Its water-holding capabilities make vermiculite a suitable anti-caking agent in dry fertilizers and pesticides while its high cation-exchange capacity helps it store nutrients for later use. Unlike peat or coco coir, perlite doesn’t come from an organic source and is superheated during its creation. As a lightweight particle, perlite also prevents other organic ingredients from compacting one another. Perlite helps insulate plant’s roots from extreme temperature fluxuations. You’re repotting outdoor plants. Perlite . However, the difference in how much water they retain makes the two substances better suited for different applications. Perlite is a naturally occurring volcanic rock that has been heated and crushed until it changes in color and texture. You can use straight perlite or vermiculite to root cuttings, or add to soil-less mixes, either one or both will be fine. Then rinse the perlite thoroughly. Satamax Antone. Using vermiculite for rooting plants for propagation is exceptionally straightforward. —John Muir Live/Work Barn . If your clay soil could use a boost of organic material, use half perlite and half peat for this process. Two popular choices are perlite and vermiculite. 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). So while it may not cut you, it’s coarse and will damage soft tissue, such as the gills of fish. Rinse it thoroughly when you’re done. 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. 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. Since perlite holds air very well, it can help you deal with a lack of oxygen. As a naturally occurring mineral, vermiculite is very safe to use. 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. 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 After soaking in the bleach mixture for 20 minutes, rinse thoroughly. It has medium water retention ratings and low nutrient retention ratings. Perlite and vermiculite are used to propagate new plants and seed cultivations. Perlite is slightly alkaline, while vermiculite … 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. The differences in the way each medium retains water and how much water each medium can retain make them suitable for different applications. Fill clean pots with perlite, snip the cuttings, dip in rooting hormone (for roses, use a sharp knife, slit an inch cut by a node, then dip). Note: You must never use perlite in an aquaponics system as fish can breathe in the tiny particles and clog their gills. 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. Simply mix 50% perlite with 50% vermiculite, add enough water so it's moist, and fill your small containers. Perlite doesn’t retain water as well and dries out too quickly, so it’s unsuitable for such plants. These pockets retain water and improve both drainage capabilities and aeration, which are crucial features in hydroponic gardening. This rooting medium is ideal for cuttings because of its moisture-retentive properties and neutral pH levels. Both perlite and vermiculite are lightweight substitutes for soilless potting mixes to improve texture and aeration. Vermiculite is an all-natural mineral product that increases nutrient retention levels and water retention. It is mined from various regions across the world and processed under immense heat until the structure is altered. Perlite is formed by molten (magmatic) rock, also known as volcanic glass. Note: A popular piece of misinformation is that vermiculite contains asbestos or that it’s a form of asbestos. One major difference lies in the fact that perlite originates from volcanic glass, whereas vermiculite contains mica, a sheet silicate mineral. That means vermiculite is a permanent way to amend and improve your soil. Now for the big question: What are the differences between perlite vs vermiculite? 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. A rooting hormone powder or gel can speed root formation. Water retention in vermiculite is far superior to perlite, leading to more robust and healthier plants. A rooting gel, like Clonox, can help further accelerate root growth. 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. Because of its light weight, perlite tends to float and you don’t want your growing medium floating away! 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. We like Perlite and Vermiculite for their individual insulating properties - especially when they can be poured into and fill a cavity. Perlite is slightly alkaline, while vermiculite … Credit: www.gardeningchannel.com/perlite-versus-vermiculite. That’s because perlite doesn’t decompose and doesn’t hold onto nutrients. Vermiculite increases soil’s ability to retain water, letting it hold on to more moisture and stay damp longer. As you may know, a lack of oxygen can give rise to anaerobic bacteria, which is in no way good for your plant’s roots. I find that the vermiculite doesn’t hold the mixture moist as long as perlite does . Vermiculite is a silicate material that’s brown or beige in color and has a soft, sponge-like texture. No problem! Our comprehensive guide makes it easy to understand perlite vs vermiculite. (If you aren’t sure what your soil’s pH level is, our article “How to Test pH in Your Soil” can help.). Perlite comes from volcanic glass, giving it a ton of small pore. Perlite helps avoid water-logged growing media. The improved drainage provokes faster root growth as they look for water and nutrients. Here’s when to use perlite vs vermiculite. Privacy Policy • The medium is considered safe for commercial and personal use. Refunds/Returns Policy • Perlite dries out too quickly for water-loving plants. This means there’s no way fungi, bacteria, or pests can make a home in perlite. Black Gold Vermiculite can be used standalone or added to a custom mix. Vermiculite from other sources has since been tested and proven to be asbestos free and harmless. It can be a vital and inexpensive form of pest control. Perlite is made from volcanic rock, which is heated and crushed until it explodes in order to transform the rock into small white pieces. Companies heavily mine both substances. The final product looks like small pellets composed of many layers. 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. Made by Good Earth Organics, Hoffman Perlite is a lightweight soil mix that focuses on improving aeration and drainage. Before reusing, pick through the perlite to remove material like root segments. Vermiculite (left) and perlite (right) Vermiculite is better than perlite when it comes to water and nutrient retention properties. My name is John and I'm a Manager & Greenhouse Grower for a farm in Northern California that specializes in sustainable agriculture. 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. Both are odorless, sterile, disease-free, insect-free, and seed-free. Many plants thrive in high humidity, so if that’s a concern in your garden, perlite is right for you. TVA is professionally managed by Calabrese Management, an association management company. That should give you an idea of the quality you can expect. (Use water to dilute.) In its natural state, vermiculite looks like mica. The Espoma Company has built up quite a reputation over the decades. Contrary to rumor, vermiculite does not contain asbestos and it is not a type of asbestos. Garden beds get a two-inch layer of perlite mixed into the top six to 12 inches of your garden soil. Vermiculite in potting soil also helps the soil retain nutrients and keep them available for plants. Some are particularly efficient at retaining minerals, some help with aerating, and others retain water. Vermiculite currently on the market does not contain asbestos. WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT USING PERLITE VERSUS VERMICULITE? Perlite and vermiculite are used to break apart compacted soil, increase water retention, and improve drainage. It doesn’t create mold or root rot and holds up moisture very well. I haven't found a good local source for bark nuggets. Vermiculite is a silicate material that’s brown or beige in color and has a soft, sponge-like texture. If sterility concerns you, soak the perlite in 10% bleach for 30 minutes and rinse afterward. Location: Southern alps, on the French side of the french /italian border 5000ft elevation . You can use straight perlite or vermiculite to root cuttings, or add to soil-less mixes, either one or both will be fine. Vermiculite is widely used in commercial hydroponics, in seed starting, plants rooting, and as a soil conditioner. Terms and Conditions • 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. Use one part potting soil (choosing one without vermiculite that offers excellent drainage), one part coarse sand, and one part perlite. 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. Although it’s a common misconception, vermiculite and perlite are not the same. 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. Once wet, the dust shouldn’t be a problem. 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. 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. I haven't found a … Vermiculite holds water extremely well and is the go-to option for water loving plants. Look for packaging marked “organic.”. The two additives are similar, but they are distinctly different in a few important ways. Vermiculite is also the best choice if the plants in your garden are sensitive to alkalinity in the soil. 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. The general ratio is a 50/50 formula that ensures the mix isn’t washed away in ebb and flow systems. The amount of water that vermiculite holds is too much for plants like cacti, succulents, or rhododendrons, which need a well-draining soil. Perlite contains an amount of alkaline between 7.0 and 7.5 pH, which makes it a bit dangerous of used too much. Perlite and vermiculite are both used to improve moisture retention and aeration in soil. Dip the cut end of each cutting in the rooting hormone and push it into the prepared vermiculite. Perlite does not decompose over time because it is made from superheated volcanic rock. Their differences lie in their origins and uses. Perlite vs. vermiculite: How do you know which one to use in the garden? 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