Vermiculite and perlite do share many qualities. Perlite and Vermiculite have some differences. 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 vs. Pumice. Cuttings can use this mix too, or you can up the perlite to 100 percent. 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. They offer the following features: In addition, both media are used as a carrier for dry fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides. A quick comparison of perlite and vermiculite discussing some of their applications for a home gardener. Vermiculite mines exist in South Africa, China, Russia, and Brazil. It looks similar to mica with its layers or stacks, which are suited for trapping water. Note: Perlite is often dusty when dry and it’s highly recommended you wear a mask when handling dry 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. 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). A 50/50 mix of vermiculite and perlite is a very popular medium for drip type hydroponic systems as well as ebb and flow systems. The medium is considered safe for commercial and personal use. What to Remember about Vermiculite vs. Perlite. Many plants thrive in high humidity, so if that’s a concern in your garden, perlite is right for you. It reduces the caking of soil and loosens clay soil. The general ratio is a 50/50 formula that ensures the mix isn’t washed away in ebb and flow systems. Perlite is harder, is white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock. A rooting gel, like Clonox, can help further accelerate root growth. 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. Using vermiculite for rooting plants for propagation is exceptionally straightforward. Don't Wait, Sale Ends 12/24! If you look closely at perlite, you’ll see it is a collection of little bubbles. Perlite is made from volcanic rock, which is heated and crushed until it explodes in order to transform the rock into small white pieces. For potted plants, use one third perlite and two thirds potting soil. Note: A popular piece of misinformation is that vermiculite contains asbestos or that it’s a form of asbestos. The most common way to use perlite is in propagating plants by cuttings. Use one part potting soil (choosing one without vermiculite that offers excellent drainage), one part coarse sand, and one part perlite. Although perlite does resemble Styrofoam, it is not Styrofoam. Propagation using Vermiculite and Perlite. 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. Perlite helps avoid water-logged growing media. 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 basically a volcanic rock and vermiculite is a natural mineral. I haven't found a good local source for bark nuggets. Our comprehensive guide makes it easy to understand perlite vs vermiculite. Made by Good Earth Organics, Hoffman Perlite is a lightweight soil mix that focuses on improving aeration and drainage. Analyzing perlite vs vermiculite, we define that they have two different purposes. 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. 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. As a naturally occurring mineral, vermiculite is very safe to use. Much more than perlite. Vermiculite and perlite are minerals, as indicated by their –ite suffixes. The drainage and air circulation perlite offers makes it an excellent soil amendment for growing succulents. Before reusing, pick through the perlite to remove material like root segments. Both perlite and vermiculite are put to use in the garden to improve drainage, prevent compacted soil and increase moisture retention. Contrary to rumor, vermiculite does not contain asbestos and it is not a type of asbestos. Vermiculite vs. Perlite. These pockets retain water and improve both drainage capabilities and aeration, which are crucial features in hydroponic gardening. There’s really no need to mix perlite and vermiculite because each of them is best suited for different situations. However, it’s less aerating. 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. Vermiculite is magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate. 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. Let us know in the comments! Perlite does not decompose over time because it is made from superheated volcanic rock. When a perlite manufacturer heats this glass, it pops into white balls. Vermiculite retains water. Skimmed the article above? It has a pH of 6.6 to 7.5. You live in a region with a humid climate. Perlite is optimal when it comes to rooting cuttings from established plants because it helps prevent the rot that can otherwise be a challenge. Perlite and vermiculite contain spaces in the particles for better aeration, allowing the root of the plant to take more oxygen. And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul. Credit: www.gardeningchannel.com/perlite-versus-vermiculite. Water retention in vermiculite is far superior to perlite, leading to more robust and healthier plants. Simply mix 50% perlite with 50% vermiculite, add enough water so it's moist, and fill your small containers. The amount of water that vermiculite holds is too much for plants like cacti, succulents, or rhododendrons, which need a well-draining soil. Some are particularly efficient at retaining minerals, some help with aerating, and others retain water. Perlite contains an amount of alkaline between 7.0 and 7.5 pH, which makes it a bit dangerous of used too much. Location: Southern alps, on the French side of the french /italian border 5000ft elevation . Vermiculite is a silicate material that’s brown or beige in color and has a soft, sponge-like texture. Privacy Policy • Potted plants dry more quickly, and adding vermiculite helps retain moisture. Perlite comes from volcanic glass, giving it a ton of small pore. Perlite can resolve any present anaerobic zones since the air pockets hold oxygen. TVA is professionally managed by Calabrese Management, an association management company. Black Gold Vermiculite can be used standalone or added to a custom mix. The final product looks like small pellets composed of many layers. Using vermiculite as an amendment means your roots are getting less oxygen for it. 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. 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. You will need to water your plants, of course, and supply them with nutrients from an appropriate fertilizer. 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. 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. The complete soil recipe consists of one third vermiculite, one third compost, and one third peat moss. Yes, perlite can be used again after it’s been used to grow plants. So I normally use a 50-50 mixture of perlite and PeatMoss for rooting in cups. Unlike perlite, vermiculite isn’t known to provide excellent aeration as it works as more of a sponge and absorbs more water than perlite. Perlite doesn’t retain water as well and dries out too quickly, so it’s unsuitable for such plants. Vermiculite may cause the root to rot … 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. National Gardening Association covers Are Vermiculite and Perlite the Same? Perlite can also offer a humidity boost to plants that need it. All herbs can be started using perlite as the sole growing media. gardener Posts: 3298. Both perlite and vermiculite are lightweight substitutes for soilless potting mixes to improve texture and aeration. This makes it suitable for delicate plants like lettuce. 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. 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. Perlite is lightweight, odorless, clean, and easy to handle. 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. 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. It doesn’t rot or mold and is completely sterile and non-toxic. Add perlite to your soil for plants which need their soil to dry out between waterings, such as cacti or succulents. When you add perlite to soil, you’re permanently changing its texture and making it better for growing plants. For seed starting, use half perlite and half peat. Most plants require more acidic conditions. Perlite dries out too quickly for water-loving plants. 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. It doesn’t create mold or root rot and holds up moisture very well. Perlite specializes in aerating soil and helping it to drain quickly. Vermiculite is well-suited for plants that require damp soil that shouldn’t dry out. Perlite is best for those plants which require water, but not stagnant water. Vermiculite is better suited for starting seeds and other situations when plants require plenty of moisture consistently available in their soil. Perlite is formed by molten (magmatic) rock, also known as volcanic glass. Since vermiculate breaks down after some time, it’s a preferred medium for short-term plants like lettuce. Remember that both perlite and vermiculite can improve your soil conditions, but they do so in different ways. 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, Vermiculite.org covers What is Vermiculite, Washington Post covers More on Potting Mix, © 2020 The Vermiculite Association: 2207 Forest Hills Drive, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17112 (United States). Although it’s a common misconception, vermiculite and perlite are not the same. 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. Perlite can be processed organically. Has anyone else had this experience or should I I find that the vermiculite doesn’t hold the mixture moist as long as perlite does . 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. Dip the cut end of each cutting in the rooting hormone and push it into the prepared vermiculite. Vermiculite currently on the market does not contain asbestos. This ratio may differ in hotter climates where a higher water-holding capacity may be desired. Vermiculite . In short, choose perlite for cacti, succulents, epiphytes, when you’re rooting cuttings, and whenever quick drainage or maintaining high humidity is a concern. Using vermiculite for plants like these could lead to root rot or death. Perlite retains air. —John Muir Live/Work Barn . Vermiculite is perfect for plants that enjoy lots of water, such as some irises and forget-me-nots. Analyzing perlite vs vermiculite, we define that they have two different purposes. Note: You must never use perlite in an aquaponics system as fish can breathe in the tiny particles and clog their gills. Additionally, because the cuttings drain well, you eliminate the possibility of root rot. Vermiculite traps water inside, just like a sponge. It’s suitable for starting seeds, storing bulbs, and propagating cuttings. That’s because perlite doesn’t decompose and doesn’t hold onto nutrients. Alternatives to Vermiculite & Perlite. Vermiculite Vs. Perlite. 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. Thus, in the perlite vs vermiculite discussion, whereas perlite is adequate for cuttings and splitting, vermiculite is recommended for seedlings. Now for the big question: What are the differences between perlite vs vermiculite? The bag of perlite on that shelf begins its life as volcanic glass, but not just any volcanic glass. A rooting hormone powder or gel can speed root formation. They also are used in a variety of specialty applications ranging from fireproofing sprays, chimney fills, interstitial floors, acoustical sprays, etc. That should give you an idea of the quality you can expect. Water in, solidifying the perlite around the cuttings, until water starts to run out the base of the pot. Espoma vermiculite is ideal for organic gardening, hydroponics systems, or simply to improve aeration in heavy soil. Vermiculite (left) and perlite (right) Vermiculite is better than perlite when it comes to water and nutrient retention properties. Vermiculite holds water extremely well and is the go-to option for water loving plants. Due to this property of Perlite and Vermiculite, they are commercially used for gardening purpose and are popular rooting mediums. Perlite is slightly alkaline, while vermiculite … If you’re looking for professional-grade perlite, you can’t go wrong with PVP Industries. Vermiculite is a silicate material that’s brown or beige in color and has a soft, sponge-like texture. However, vermiculite holds more moisture and keeps it available in the soil longer than perlite will. I love sharing my knowledge with readers here on IGT. 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 tends to be closer to neutral. 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. Potted plants can use a third perlite and an appropriate potting soil for the rest. Because of its light weight, perlite tends to float and you don’t want your growing medium floating away! It’s also used as a protective coating on pelleted seeds. Perlite vs. vermiculite: How do you know which one to use in the garden? Perlite can help water drain out of your soil, while vermiculite retains the water. Whether to use one additive or the other – or both together – depends on the native soil composition and condition; also remember to consider the type of plant you’ll be growing and its particular needs. Both are odorless, sterile, disease-free, insect-free, and seed-free. Vermiculite retains water. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF PERLITE IN POTTING SOIL? If your clay soil could use a boost of organic material, use half perlite and half peat for this process. It is added to soil mixes in order to improve the drainage capability of both soil-based and soilless potting mixes. The two additives are similar, but they are distinctly different in a few important ways. 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. One major difference lies in the fact that perlite originates from volcanic glass, whereas vermiculite contains mica, a sheet silicate mineral. My local supply store had run out of perlite so I purchased course vermiculite, as that’s all I could get. WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT USING PERLITE VERSUS VERMICULITE? So while it may not cut you, it’s coarse and will damage soft tissue, such as the gills of fish. 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