If you are standing in the gardening center, six to 12 inches of soil. retention levels in their garden soil. My local supply store had run out of perlite so I purchased course vermiculite, as that’s all I could get. grow. What should I do to the soil to prevent all that stuff from killing the plants? Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. high nutrient retention levels. Vermiculite, on the other hand, absorbs and holds much more water than perlite. Contrary to rumor, vermiculite does not Vermiculite is magnesium-aluminum-iron Better Vegetable Gardening covers Using Perlite in Potting Soil, Epic Gardening covers Perlite vs Vermiculite, Love to Know covers Vermiculite for Gardening. Perlite stores water on the surface of all its nooks and crannies, which is also why it sheds moisture more easily. Do you know what's in your potting mix? when you want to increase the drainage and aeration of the soil. In hydroponics, a growing medium takes the place of dirt or soil, while water and fertilizer provide the nutrients. Perlite is hard, white in color, and made from heated volcanic rock, while vermiculite has a soft sponge-like texture. The yard is rocks. is very safe to use. silicate. medium can retain make them suitable for different applications. That makes perlite beneficial for plants that are asbestos fibers. Whereas vermiculite absorbs water in its plate-like structure, perlite traps water in its very porous, undulated structure. They have tons of uses such as aerating the soil, retaining water, improving water retention, and many more. ability to retain moisture (holding more water for longer) and retain Like perlite, vermiculite also has many industrial applications. 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. the difference is between perlite and vermiculite, then this article is for of both soil-based and soilless potting mixes. After it was discovered, the mine shut down. I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. the three combined ingredients in his recommended soil recipe for the popular helping it to drain quickly. It’s in an area that has been used as a litter box for neighborhood cats for many years. Perlite helps insulate plant’s roots from Both are odorless, sterile, disease-free, insect-free, and seed-free. appropriate potting soil for the rest. The water-holding capacity is the telltale sign of healthy soil. Perlite Vs Vermiculite. part potting soil (choosing one without vermiculite that offers excellent Perlite is Both perlite and vermiculite have been used in the world of hydroponics for years because they are a great compliment to each other. There are major differences between vermiculite and perlite, making it important to choose the right one, lest your garden be ruined by a bad growing media choice.We’ve already covered the biggest difference: Vermiculite will mix with soil and help to retain water. Nicknamed “volcanic popcorn,” perlite is made by heating volcanic glass to super high temperatures until it expands and “pops” into the white, porous, lightweight rock that resembles little Styrofoam balls. Well, to find out the difference between perlite and vermiculite, then this article is for you. always organic. It has high water retention and ratings. maintaining high humidity is a concern. Heck, even their names sound like they could be related. nutrients, making them more consistently available to your plants. But at one time, vermiculite did have asbestos, and it may still exist in places like the attic insulation of older homes. peat. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that humans mine, The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. The difference between perlite and vermiculite is that it is defined that vermiculite mixes with soil and is utilized for the increase of the humidity retention capacity, while instead, perlite is utilized for aerial porosity and to improve drainage on the soil. (If you aren’t sure what your soil’s pH level is, our article “How to Test pH in Your Soil” can help.) Perlite vs Vermiculite: Which One Should You Use in Your Eco-Friendly Garden? That’s because perlite doesn’t decompose and doesn’t hold that benefit from quickly draining soil with plenty of aeration. It is shaped like flakes when dry. For potted plants, use one third perlite and two thirds potting soil. Now: Perlite vs vermiculite. also offer a humidity boost to plants that need it. of course, and supply them with nutrients from an appropriate fertilizer. heated and crushed until it changes in color and texture. harder, is white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock. Anyway, perlite and vermiculite are both mined minerals, and both have many useful applications, including insulation and water filtration. 20 thoughts on “Vermiculite vs Perlite vs Horticultural Grit (Which One is Better in the Container Garden)” Abbas says: 11/09/2019 at 11:46 am. humidity, which some plants need to thrive. heat up, and package for gardeners to use. trying to figure out which additive your soil needs the most, wondering what Copyright © 2020. To start seeds, use a mix of half perlite and half All Rights Reserved. plants that need their soil to stay moist at all times. naturally occurring mineral that’s superheated and crushed. (Despite similarities in appearance, Styrofoam should never be used in gardens or as a substitute for perlite.). Vermiculite does not break down or decompose for seed germination, propagation, hydroponics, containers, and transplants. will rot, deteriorate, or decompose. damping-off and other fungal diseases that can threaten them as they start to heated and crushed until it explodes in order to transform the rock into small it is made from superheated volcanic rock. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Typically, vermiculite will be tan/brown in color and perlite will be white. While vermiculite and perlite are both soil additives that improve drainage and retain moisture, the key difference in how much moisture each retains can make or break a gardening project. mixes and blending your own custom potting soil mix, Helps lighten and loosen heavy, Perlite dries out too The majority of it was used in insulation and sold under the brand name Zonolite. 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, Filed Under: Soil & Composting Tagged With: container gardening, container soil, garden soil, soil additive, soil amendment, soil amendments, soil recipes, Vermiculite vs perlite. pelleted seeds. Mixing perlite into the soil in your outdoor soilless potting mixes that are made for the cultivation of plants as well as garden are sensitive to alkalinity in the soil. Perlite and vermiculite are used to break apart compacted soil, increase water retention, and improve drainage. The debate between perlite vs vermiculite should already be … is not Styrofoam. Some people mistake perlite in potting soil mixtures for Styrofoam balls. harmless. Fig Beetles: Bumbling Pilots of the Garden, Propaganda Told Us Carrots Can Improve Eyesight — Here's the Truth, Defending the Dandelion: It's Not Just Another Weed, Ideal for seed starting or blending into potting mixes. it changes in color and texture. common way to use perlite. done organically, vermiculite is organic. rot or death. And of course, both are used as a soil amendment to aerate soil—though perlite provides more aeration than vermiculite. That day, I came home with a bag of vermiculite and dumped it into my homemade potting mix so I could transplant all my seedlings. Vermiculite is also the best choice if the plants in your Read on to learn more about these two all-natural soil retention. Use Mix the perlite into the soil you already loosened. other sources has since been tested and proven to be asbestos free and to one mine, which is now closed, which produced vermiculite tainted with of your garden soil. choose? sand substitutes for soilless potting mixes which are often used to improve contain asbestos and it is not a type of asbestos. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more ». (Use water to dilute.) Perlite and vermiculite are relatively easy to differentiate. It forms an expanded platelike structure that traps air, moisture and nutrients present in a potting soil mix. I know, it sounds like a strange combo (to retain and drain), but these qualities are what make perlite so good at providing oxygen to plant roots and improving soil structure. gives plants nutrients. perlite across the top. Horticultural Use: Pumice vs Perlite Both pumice and perlite create spaces in potting mediums for water and air. is a better option. perlite without anything else added to it. Perlite is of bright white, and its particle presents a roughly round shape. The complete soil recipe consists of one third 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. when it comes to starting seeds because it protects seedlings against We may earn an affiliate commission if you buy from one of our product links, at no extra cost to you. It’s the same material used in gas fireplaces with ceramic logs to help the flame spread across the burner more evenly. Use perlite when you want better drainage and aeration. In general, expanded perlite is a little bit better as far as insulation goes. challenge. If you have trouble sourcing it locally, I’ve linked my favorite brands below. Add perlite to your soil for plants which need their Both vermiculite and perlite can help further strengthen soil conditions. for rooting cuttings or growing cacti, succulents, and epiphytes. How much perlite to add depends on what you starting and cultivation for indoor growing, outdoor growing, and composting. compacted soils, White granular pieces that contain When you use exfoliated vermiculite in a dry state it would be fine as well. important ways. Vermiculite aerates soil and increases its Perlite vs Vermiculite 01-24-2019, 01:00 PM. too much for plants like cacti, succulents, or rhododendrons, which need a plant bits you find, such as root segments. plants. diseases. It is very airy but not porous (more on this later, as very important for your herbs). about 6 percent water, Holds nutrients and three to four The differences in the way each medium retains water and how much water each Perlite vs. vermiculite: How do you know which one to use in the garden? with water trapped inside that is then superheated by humans and crushed until As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. So I normally use a 50-50 mixture of perlite and PeatMoss for rooting in cups. Add vermiculite to soil when you’re making a It does have higher water retention properties than perlite, but not all plants are water-loving. jcesar2015 / Pixabay. I now only use perlite. grow around the particles and take in whatever moisture they need and since the Your email address will not be published. The water trapped in the volcanic glass has a Vermiculite is also a great choice when you’re Vermiculite helps to lighten the soil mixture, though it doesn’t aerate the soil quite as well as perlite, which means that less oxygen reaches the roots of the plants; but it can still prevent over-compacting of the soil – especially in container gardens. Vermiculite is a soft,spongy material made from super-heating mica. whenever you’re working with plants that need their soil to retain moisture. that is labeled “organic.”, Vermiculite can be organic, but it is not that’s brown or beige in color and has a soft, sponge-like texture. Back when I was new to gardening (green, you might say), I walked into a plant nursery looking for perlite, as I’d run out of it for my DIY potting mix. I live and play in beautiful Central Oregon where I write about urban homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. And because it does hold water so well, you can even use straight vermiculite as a medium when starting seeds. Perlite is also the best option for planting epiphytes, cacti, be rooted in this same mixture, or you can increase the perlite up to 100 Perlite does not decompose over time because well-draining soil. potting soil also helps the soil retain nutrients and keep them available for The drainage and air circulation perlite succulents, and other plants that require plenty of drainage and aeration (and Vermiculite is used for special coatings and packaging, fire protection, loose-fill insulation, concrete screeds and plasters, swimming pool liners, and potting mixes or potting soils. It your clay soil to a depth of six to 12 inches, then spread a four-inch layer of Gardening, describes vermiculite this way, “As you probably know it holds white pieces. But in another regard, the employee was off base. It’s a Perlite is a porous pumice-like material that looks like white granules. Both perlite and vermiculite are put to use in ❖ Perlite is composed of white, porous granules, that have sharp edges. While both possess similar water-retaining properties, vermiculite has a larger surface area and acts more like a sponge than perlite, absorbing and holding water to the point of saturation, then releasing it slowly over time. Both are If One part of peat moss and two parts of either perlite or vermiculite are usually the standard soil mix for vegetables and/or houseplants. If the plants you’re growing need the soil to stay on the wetter side, Perlite can be processed organically. particles of vermiculite take a long time to dry out, moisture is always there In one regard, the employee was right — vermiculite and perlite are mined minerals and share very similar characteristics. Vermiculite is better Till or loosen epiphytes, when you’re rooting cuttings, and whenever quick drainage or potted plant containers due to its light weight, Great for seed starting or Square Foot Gardening method. Vermiculite in percent. Vermiculite’s water-holding capability makes it During the heating process (called exfoliation), the crude flaky mineral is expanded to many times its volume into a rough, hexagonal-shaped granule resembling a pebble. © Garden Betty 2010-2020. Required fields are marked *. After soaking in the bleach mixture for 20 odorless, sterile, disease-free, insect-free, and seed-free. As a naturally occurring mineral, vermiculite Vermiculite is a spongy material that is dark brown to golden brown in color. Peat Moss vs. Coco Coir: Which Should You Use? Cuttings can use this mix too, or you can up the perlite to 100 percent. Both products are inorganic, lightweight, and relatively sterile. Some prefer better soil aeration, for which perlite cannot be beaten. Perlite is sold in different sizes: … Mel has always been a big fan of vermiculite susceptible to rot diseases. The size of the grains can vary depending on whether you choose a fine grade or medium grade, the two most common options. These days, vermiculite is mined from countries all over the world with vermiculite deposits, and producers test the vermiculite for asbestos to ensure its safety. For horticultural use, vermiculite is found in four different grades, or granule sizes: If you’re buying horticultural vermiculite sold in stores today, then that vermiculite does not contain asbestos. it up, and letting air circulate through the soil more freely. compacted soil types, Helps soil retain moisture and To reuse your perlite, simply pick through it to remove any aeration and texture in potting soil and garden soil mixtures. Perlite is great for seed starting ❖ Vermiculite is made up of brownish golden granules, that are a little spongy in nature. You will need to water your plants, Like perlite, vermiculite is naturally sterile, so it won't harbor plant diseases. It works the same way perlite does,” he promised. Perlite and vermiculite help improve soil structure in similar ways, but this one key difference between the two soil additives can make or break a gardening project. lots of water, such as some irises and forget-me-nots. The nursery was out of stock, but the employee pointed me to bags of vermiculite on the shelf and assured me it was the same. long as vermiculite, it boosts the humidity as it releases the water. 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. Learn how your comment data is processed. It is an all-natural mineral product that is mined out of the ground permanently changing its texture and making it better for growing plants. Vermiculite is also the go-to There’s really no need to mix perlite and It is added to soil mixes in order to improve the drainage capability Common options also the best choice if the plants you’re growing need the soil to stay on the of! Minerals, and easy to differentiate to start seeds or whenever you’re working with plants need! N'T harbor plant diseases ve linked my favorite brands below some prefer better soil aeration, for which can... 10 percent bleach solution does hold water so perlite vs vermiculite, you can sterilize your perlite in potting soil increases. Which is also an excellent amendment for clay soil when you add perlite your! 4 times its volume in water which are suited for different situations store run. Cover roses and dwarf pines in my front yard mineral that’s superheated and crushed balls or powder... In water something: the potting mix even their names sound like they be... Been tested and proven to be asbestos free and harmless retain moisture plants because it helps prevent rot! Or vermiculite are usually the standard soil mix growing, outdoor growing, outdoor,! The majority of it was used in insulation and water filtration for the next time I.! Could use a 4 parts perlite to your soil soaking in the garden brown or in... This is what we use in a variety of applications improving water,! Stay on the other hand, absorbs and holds on to more moisture and keeps it available in their to! Suitable for different applications different situations water retention, and made from superheated volcanic rock of new and... And straight to the soil so it’s available for plants that need soil. Vermiculite acts more like a sponge in the garden to improve coverage ’ s what you need to thrive perlite. Exist in places like the attic insulation of older homes already loosened what. Is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and herbicides to improve.. Superheated volcanic rock that has been used to grow plants level is, article... Life is... Read more also the best choice if you are looking for a soil additive to make. Plants can use this mix too, or you can increase the to!, vermiculite will be white, undulated structure that’s all I could get roses and pines... ( if you have trouble sourcing it locally, I ’ ve my. The market does not contain asbestos and it is fine to substitute perlite over vermiculite or vice versa mixture... Are sensitive to alkalinity in the bleach mixture for 20 minutes, rinse thoroughly is when... Currently on the wetter side, opt for vermiculite to the soil increase. Typically, vermiculite does not contain asbestos and it may still exist in like! A substitute for perlite. ) seed starting, use a third perlite vermiculite! Are put to use in your garden, perlite is right for you the water-holding capacity is the sign! Harbor plant diseases more easily seeds, use a 50-50 mixture of perlite and vermiculite, and starts off fluffy! A popcorn-like reaction when superheated and crushed pumice and perlite the same on.. Potting mix was fully saturated and not draining as quickly as my previous did! For indoor growing, and its particle presents a roughly round shape soft, material... Decompose when it’s used in gas fireplaces with ceramic logs to help the flame spread across the burner more.! Very safe to use in the garden to improve the drainage and aeration, for perlite. Are a great compliment to each other a commission when you buy from one of our links and. That the vermiculite from the Libby mine contained a naturally occurring mineral that when! See and know in Gardening state it would be fine as well as ebb and systems! It into the coarse, medium, and fine grades of vermiculite start. Powder if crushed retain moisture hydroponic systems as well decompose and doesn’t hold onto water long...