What is Perlite?

Perlite is a naturally occurring mineral, and it existed as a type of volcanic glass saturated with water over a long time. Natural Perlite is dark black or grey colored amorphous glass. Amorphous means that it doesn’t have any definite shape or structure, unlike a crystal.

What is Perlite made up of?

Perlite is made up of

  • 70-75% silicone dioxide
  • Aluminum oxide
  • Sodium oxide
  • Iron oxide
  • Magnesium oxide
  • Calcium oxide
  • 3-5% water

It is a nonrenewable resource, a cheap mineral, and manufactured plasters, masonry, and ceiling tiles. The main purpose of Perlite is used in gardens and hydroponic techniques.

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Different types of Perlite

  • Coarse perlite
  • Medium grade perlite
  • Fine perlite
  • Organic perlite

Organic Perlite is naturally extracted from the earth and doesn’t undergo significant chemical processing; it is a safe organic additive.

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What does Perlite look like?

Perlite is white-colored grain, finer than vermiculite, and starts off as fluffy balls or a powder if crushed. The size of the grains can vary depending on whether you choose fine grade or medium grade.

Perlite vs pumice

It is a mined siliceous rock that is heated and expanded, or popped like popcorn, into a white light-weighted material, while pumice is a soft, insert-minced stone that frequently comes from Oregano. Perlite and pumice are porous collections, meaning they are added to potting soil to improve ventilation and drainage.

Styrofoam vs Perlite

Perlite is lightweight and polystyrene is extremely lightweight. Perlite decomposed naturally over time but Styrofoam will not decompose for millions of years.

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Substitutes of perlite

  • Rice husk
  • Pumice
  • Horticultural grit
  • Granite gravel
  • Vermiculite
  • Calcined clay
  • Bark
  • Peat
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Significance of Perlite

  • Neutral pH level
  • It can retain required amount of water and allow the rest to drain away
  • It is incredibly porous and contains pockets of space inside for air
  • Allows air and water for the growth of strong root system and It is good source of aeration .
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Perlite helps in draining

Adding in the soil helps in improving water draining capabilities and allows excess water to drain off. Proper draining is necessary that allows excess water to drain off and keep air pockets around for the roots.

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Perlite used for hydroponic system

It is equally used in hydroponic techniques and soil-less horticulture. Stimulates root growth and prevents drowning by helping drain excess water away and is suitable for high water settings like deep water culture, or ebb and flow systems. It is mixed with vermiculite in equal amounts (50-50) helps in improving the water holding- holding capacity of vermiculite in the water-rich system.

Positive
  • Aeration of roots
  • Very stable and inert structure
  • Helps to improve drainage
  • Cheap and easily available
  • Useful for hydroponic and gardening
Negatives
  • Fine grades are affected by airflow/ winds
  • Does not retain water
  • Contains no nutrients
  • Tend to float in excess water
  • Give off dust. Protect exhalation while working with Perlite
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From where you can buy Perlite?

You can buy from local nurseries and hydro shops or online shopping. You can buy it as a mix of soil, soilless growing media, or fertilizers. It is an effective, safe growing medium that can last long.

Deduction

Perlite can improve the growth of seeds, saplings, rooting, and adult plants and can be used as a standalone growth medium, or with other additives.

Perlite vs Vermiculite

These are not the same, vermiculite is a silicate material that’s brown or beige in color and has a soft, sponge-like texture.

While Perlite is harder, white in color, and is made out of mined volcanic rock.

Vermiculite

Vermiculite is occurring in a mineral that takes the form of glossy flakes, varying in color from dark gray to sandy brown,  hydrated magnesium, iron, and aluminum silicate mineral. It can be used in soil mixes y gardeners and nursery workers to improve germination success and encourage rapid root growth in cuttings.

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 How Vermiculite made of ?

Vermiculite in its natural form looks a lot like mica, with a layered rock appearance, miners work to separate ore from vermiculite and other minerals, then sort them into different categories based on size.

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What does Vermiculite look like?

Vermiculite is tan and brown in color, usually in the form of grains or rough tubes, but sometimes in the shapes of flakes, depending on the moisture content.

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How to use Vermiculite in the Garden?

Vermiculite has many useful qualities that can benefit soil and plants, it is aerating, moisture-retentive, nutrient-retentive, lightweight, non-toxic, sterile, doesn’t rot or mold, and has a neutral pH level.

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Advantages of Vermiculite

  • Soil improvement
  • Seed germination
  • Container gardening
  • Lawn seeding
  • Cut flowers
  • Bulb and root storage
  • Transplanting plants
  • Mulch
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How to use Vermiculite in hydroponic technique?

In hydroponic techniques, vermiculite can be used in place of soil in numerous settings, including seed germination, in root cuttings. It can encourage more rapid root growth and helps to control the moisture levels. Helps to absorb nutrients, including magnesium, calcium, and potassium. It can also be combined with other non-soil materials such as Perlite and pumice to create custom hydroponic growing media.

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Vermiculite

Positive
  • Impressive water retention
  • Sterile
  • Neutral pH
  • Aerates soil
  • Improves root growth
  • Increases nutrient retention
  • Will not rot
  • Prevents mold and mildew
  • Helps in root anchorage
  • Promotes rapid growth
Negatives
  • Expensive
  • Some associated health concerns
  • Not renewable source
  • Can retain too much moisture
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Vermiculite vs pumice

Pumice is another lightweight mineral that can be added to gardens for the benefit of plants. It’s excellent at retaining oxygen, improve aeration in heavy or poor-draining soil.  It has minimal moisture-retention qualities, but vermiculite is a much better addition to your garden.

Conclusion

Vermiculite improves soil quality, prevents overwatering, improves plant health and growth and helps with aeration of the soil, and retains moisture. Vermiculite can be expensive to buy when it comes to the health of your plants. It can be used alone or also in mixes. It is very safe to use doesn’t have any proven toxic or carcinogenic effects and does not contain any trace of asbestos or other harmful minerals.

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