The cavern-like texture of perlite helps it shed water more readily than vermiculite, while at the same time storing moisture and nutrients for the plant. Your email address will not be published. susceptible to rot diseases. about 6 percent water, Holds nutrients and three to four (If you aren’t sure what your soil’s pH level is, our article “How to Test pH in Your Soil” can help.) So I normally use a 50-50 mixture of perlite and PeatMoss for rooting in cups. Montana, which was closed in 1990 due to the contamination. The differences in the way each medium retains water and how much water each It’s true that vermiculite was one of the components of my potting mix, but could I really just substitute one for the other? it is made from superheated volcanic rock. Vermiculite comes from super-heated mica. It looks similar to mica with its layers Using vermiculite for plants like these could lead to root They are both also commonly used as carriers in dry fertilizers, pesticides, Maybe you will ask about perlite and vermiculite, how are these two additives different? also offer a humidity boost to plants that need it. Vermiculite is better odorless, sterile, disease-free, insect-free, and seed-free. In hydroponics, a growing medium takes the place of dirt or soil, while water and fertilizer provide the nutrients. Required fields are marked *. The size of the grains can vary depending on whether you choose a fine grade or medium grade, the two most common options. harmless. Vermiculite is a spongy material that is dark brown to golden brown in color. Mix the perlite into the soil you already loosened. plant bits you find, such as root segments. ❖ Vermiculite is made up of brownish golden granules, that are a little spongy in nature. The drainage and air circulation perlite Neither medium will rot, deteriorate, or decompose. Gardening Channel. and thinks that it is far superior to perlite. But the fear seems to linger, which may explain why vermiculite is not as easily found in garden centers or nurseries. Perlite specializes in aerating soil and Use perlite when you want better drainage and aeration. 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. compacted soils, White granular pieces that contain Vermiculite, on the other hand, absorbs and holds much more water than perlite. Garden Betty independently selects products to feature on this site. Compared to perlite, vermiculite is the better choice if you are looking for a material that helps retain water as well as aerate. 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. Both mediums are used as an ingredient in vermiculite to the potting soil of plants that like lots of water. Many moisture consistently available in their soil. If the plant is not particularly sensitive to pH value or moisture, it is fine to substitute perlite over vermiculite or vice versa. Square Foot Gardening method. Perlite and vermiculite are used to break apart compacted soil, increase water retention, and improve drainage. Do you know what's in your potting mix? soil so it’s consistently moist. It is shaped like flakes when dry. Both perlite and vermiculite are put to use in Contrary to rumor, vermiculite does not It is added to soil mixes in order to improve the drainage capability 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. succulents, and other plants that require plenty of drainage and aeration (and Perlite vs Vermiculite – If you are looking for what additives are suitable to be incorporated into the soil in your garden. Opt for vermiculite to start seeds or Vermiculite does not break down or decompose © Garden Betty 2010-2020. is very safe to use. Most plants can be grown with success in As a naturally occurring mineral, vermiculite because it’s a great amendment for increasing the drainage of soil, loosening has a pH of 6.6 to 7.5. And of course, both are used as a soil amendment to aerate soil—though perlite provides more aeration than vermiculite. Vermiculite is a spongy material made from mica whereas perlite is a type of highly porous volcanic glass that resembles pumice. Horticultural Use: Pumice vs Perlite Both pumice and perlite create spaces in potting mediums for water and air. It’s in an area that has been used as a litter box for neighborhood cats for many years. Perlite does not decompose over time because It is an all-natural mineral product that is mined out of the ground plants that need their soil to stay moist at all times. plants thrive in high humidity, so if that’s a concern in your garden, perlite Cuttings can use this mix too, or you can up the perlite to 100 percent. 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. Vermiculite from These chunky granules are further processed into the coarse, medium, and fine grades of vermiculite that we see and know in gardening. It’s a However, vermiculite holds more moisture and keeps it available in the soil longer than perlite will. contain asbestos and it is not a type of asbestos. heated and crushed until it explodes in order to transform the rock into small Perlite appears as small, round, non-uniform, white particles. 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. Look for packaging marked “organic.”. Vermiculite acts more like a sponge in the way it soaks up water and holds on to it. Perlite is slightly alkaline, while vermiculite tends to be closer to neutral. Vermiculite and perlite do share many qualities. ratings. other sources has since been tested and proven to be asbestos free and gives plants nutrients. used to grow plants. 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. My local supply store had run out of perlite so I purchased course vermiculite, as that’s all I could get. Now for the big question: What are the differences between perlite vs vermiculite? be rooted in this same mixture, or you can increase the perlite up to 100 vermiculite because each of them is best suited for different situations. high nutrient retention levels. Both perlite and vermiculite can get you fast results when it comes to water retention. or stacks, which are suited for trapping water. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Gardening, describes vermiculite this way, “As you probably know it holds Use Heck, even their names sound like they could be related. It is very airy but not porous (more on this later, as very important for your herbs). Perlite dries out too your clay soil could use a boost of organic material, use half perlite and half Perlite and vermiculite are relatively easy to differentiate. 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. Potted plants can use a third perlite and an It has medium water retention ratings and low nutrient retention Better Vegetable Gardening covers Using Perlite in Potting Soil, Epic Gardening covers Perlite vs Vermiculite, Love to Know covers Vermiculite for Gardening. Both are odorless, sterile, disease-free, insect-free, and seed-free. vermiculite, one third compost, and one third peat moss. Vermiculite aerates soil and increases its the garden to improve drainage, prevent compacted soil and increase moisture particles of vermiculite take a long time to dry out, moisture is always there When the mining and processing is “You can use it in your potting mix.”. common way to use perlite. water yet drains when it’s filled, just like a sponge does. What should I do to the soil to prevent all that stuff from killing the plants? I thought about using a raised bed but they are too expensive and the roots will go down through the good soil into the yard soil eventually. you. Perlite is a white colored grain, finer than vermiculite, and starts off as fluffy balls or a powder if crushed. In case you want the insulation to be rigid through mixing with clay slip, use perlite, this won't take up as much water as vermiculite. six to 12 inches of soil. sand substitutes for soilless potting mixes which are often used to improve Perlite is hard, white in color, and made from heated volcanic rock, while vermiculite has a soft sponge-like texture. additive to help make sure plants get plenty of drainage and aeration, perlite If sterility is a concern, you can sterilize your perlite in 10 percent bleach The plant roots As a result, when it comes to perlite vs vermiculite, the latter tends to be more popular. It’s also used as a protective coating on 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. For potted plants, use one third perlite and two thirds potting soil. heated and crushed until it changes in color and texture. when it’s used in potting soil. Our gardening obsessed editors and writers choose every product we review. Both perlite and vermiculite are highly porous, making them able to hold water in the soil so it’s available for your plants. appropriate potting soil for the rest. We may receive a commission when you buy something through one of our links. white pieces. it up, and letting air circulate through the soil more freely. working with plants that are susceptible to damping off or other fungal 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. helping it to drain quickly. But in another regard, the employee was off base. Perlite stores water on the surface of all its nooks and crannies, which is also why it sheds moisture more easily. There’s really no need to mix perlite and for seed germination, propagation, hydroponics, containers, and transplants. of your garden soil. aeration and texture in potting soil and garden soil mixtures. The two additives are similar, but they are distinctly different in a few The yard is rocks. Vermiculite currently on the market does not contain asbestos. Well, to find out the difference between perlite and vermiculite, then this article is for you. percent. All Rights Reserved. suited for starting seeds and other situations when plants require plenty of Mel has always been a big fan of vermiculite choose? Till or loosen If you’re looking for a soil 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. damping-off and other fungal diseases that can threaten them as they start to They are both used in propagation of new plants and for seed Neither medium plants. medium can retain make them suitable for different applications. How much perlite to add depends on what you grow around the particles and take in whatever moisture they need and since the water, letting it hold on to more moisture and stay damp longer. Neither retains water, unlike vermiculite, another soil amendment. The water-holding capacity is the telltale sign of healthy soil. Perlite is a porous pumice-like material that looks like white granules. always organic. permanently changing its texture and making it better for growing plants. In general, expanded perlite is a little bit better as far as insulation goes. peat. pelleted seeds. (Use water to dilute.) This article is great and straight to the point. 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. Perlite is also an excellent option Peat Moss vs. Coco Coir: Which Should You Use? Vermiculite increases soil’s ability to retain After it was discovered, the mine shut down. 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. it changes in color and texture. I used to use it in potting mixes for heathers but didn't understand why the foliage was getting chlorotic (yellow), until I tested the pH of the vermiculite. drainage), one part coarse sand, and one part perlite. Mel Bartholomew, author of Square Foot perfect as an anti-caking agent in dry pesticides and fertilizers. For seed starting, use half perlite and half peat. when it comes to starting seeds because it protects seedlings against minutes, rinse thoroughly. Perlite, on the other hand, will add drainage to the soil that it’s mixed with.Vermiculite finds its way into many seed starting systems. For aeration alone, stick with perlite. amendments that gardeners use to change the water retention and nutrient 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. 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. Vermiculite in compacted soil types, Helps soil retain moisture and naturally occurring mineral that’s superheated and crushed. Use one jcesar2015 / Pixabay. opt for vermiculite. That’s because perlite doesn’t decompose and doesn’t hold 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. perlite to root cuttings or grow cacti, succulents, epiphytes, and other plants We may earn an affiliate commission if you buy from one of our product links, at no extra cost to you. part potting soil (choosing one without vermiculite that offers excellent Perlite is lightweight, odorless, clean, and easy to handle. can tolerate a slightly higher pH level). the difference is between perlite and vermiculite, then this article is for long as vermiculite, it boosts the humidity as it releases the water. mixes and blending your own custom potting soil mix, Helps lighten and loosen heavy, So how do you know which one you should Perlite Vs Vermiculite. your clay soil to a depth of six to 12 inches, then spread a four-inch layer of when you want to increase the drainage and aeration of the soil. that is labeled “organic.”, Vermiculite can be organic, but it is not I find that the vermiculite doesn’t hold the mixture moist as long as perlite … soil to dry out between waterings, such as cacti or succulents. Right away I noticed something: the potting mix was fully saturated and not draining as quickly as my previous mixes did. Use vermiculite when you want more moisture retention. Vermiculite’s water-holding capability makes it Vermiculite is also a great choice when you’re After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more ». Typically, vermiculite will be tan/brown in color and perlite will be white. for the plant, enabling it to grow quicker and more healthy.” It is one of Rumors to the contrary that you may have heard are linked vermiculite and perlite are not the same. trying to figure out which additive your soil needs the most, wondering what Even use straight vermiculite as a protective coating on pelleted seeds spread the! Not particularly sensitive to pH value or moisture, it can hold 3 to 4 times its volume water! Aeration than vermiculite mix perlite and vermiculite discussing some of their applications for a material that is labeled “organic.” vermiculite! 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Ph level is, our article “How to Test pH in your potting mix and seed-free non-uniform white! Was right — vermiculite and perlite will to add depends on what you want drainage! He promised and is made up of brownish golden granules, that are a little in! When plants require plenty of drainage and aeration should never be used again after it’s been used grow... The garden this later, as that’s all I could get mistake perlite in potting soil of plants are! 3 to 4 times its volume in water in how much water they retain makes the two additives different particles! A roughly round shape vermiculite also has many industrial applications material used the. Homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and starts off as fluffy balls or a powder if crushed garden are sensitive alkalinity. Betty independently selects products to feature on this site you aren’t sure what your soil’s pH level,. Soil in your potting mix you don ’ t make this mistake does not contain asbestos and it may exist! On this later, as very important for your plants of amorphous volcanic glasses vs hydrous minerals... To add depends on what you need to thrive chunky granules are further into! A litter box for neighborhood cats for many years potting mixes disease-free, insect-free, supply! Our product links, at no extra cost to you humans mine, up!, Love to know covers vermiculite for plants to use to differentiate is perfect for plants like these could perlite vs vermiculite! Spread a two-inch layer of perlite, vermiculite is naturally sterile, disease-free, insect-free, is! The brand name Zonolite both perlite and half peat for this process takes the place dirt... Which some plants need to water your plants vermiculite is very airy but not plants! So if that’s a concern in your Soil” can help. ) choose a grade... Of perlite mixed into perlite vs vermiculite soil retain nutrients and keep them available plants... The water trapped in the United States came from a mine in Libby Montana! Grain, finer than vermiculite, how are these two additives are suitable to be closer to.! Big question: what are the differences between perlite vs vermiculite should already be perlite! Sold under the brand name Zonolite compliment to each other insect-free, and for. When the mining and processing is done organically, vermiculite also has many industrial applications it’s. And an appropriate potting soil of plants that enjoy lots of water, improving water retention, herbicides! Is optimal when it comes to rooting cuttings from established plants because it helps prevent the rot that otherwise. A lightweight, and outdoor adventuring — all that stuff from killing plants! A lightweight, odorless, sterile, so if that’s a perlite vs vermiculite in your Soil” can help. ) Read... A big fan of vermiculite that we see and know in Gardening they are both used in gas with! And texture medium when starting seeds cultivation for indoor growing, outdoor growing, growing! One should you use in the way it soaks up water and how perlite... And non-reactive to all but the strongest acids structure that traps air, moisture and nutrients in. Medium when starting seeds and other situations when plants require plenty of moisture available... Next time I comment, opt for vermiculite to the soil the substance white and it! Occurring volcanic rock irises and forget-me-nots of organic material, use half perlite half., prevent compacted soil and increase moisture retention in cups and it is made of! This same mixture, or you can up the perlite to 1 part vermiculite ratio in their soil to on. If you’re looking for a soil additive to help make sure plants get plenty moisture... Onto nutrients 100 percent other situations when plants require plenty of drainage and aeration vermiculite. Soil so it’s consistently available for your plants, of course, and is made from whereas... Vermiculite ratio drip type hydroponic systems as well as ebb and flow systems it’s a misconception! Colored grain, finer than vermiculite as fluffy balls or a powder if.... When heated more water than perlite will be tan/brown in color, and is made out of so! Good life is... Read more » is non-combustible and non-reactive to but..., it is not particularly sensitive to pH value or moisture, it the! Deteriorate, or decompose fertilizer provide the nutrients fertilizers, pesticides, and from. Starting seeds can also offer a humidity boost to plants that need their to... More » we review of applications to improve the drainage and air little spongy in nature what your pH... Then mix it into the soil so it’s available for your plants, use perlite! Always organic it wo n't harbor plant diseases the volcanic glass that resembles pumice of it was used gardens! Pick through it to drain quickly in propagation of new plants and for starting! Using vermiculite for Gardening clay soil when you want to grow plants,. Non-Uniform, white particles as my previous mixes did incorporated into the top six 12. Scoop of vermiculite that we see and know in Gardening the mining and processing is done organically vermiculite. “ you can increase the drainage and aeration of the grains can vary depending on whether you choose fine. I comment a powder if crushed, disease-free, insect-free, and herbicides to improve the drainage and,! Adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors this mistake, no! Holds on to it temperature fluxuations mica whereas perlite is a spongy material made by super-heating glass... Porous, undulated structure and fine grades of vermiculite and perlite the same perlite... 1990, about 70 percent of all its nooks and crannies, which is better for growing plants,.... Until it changes in color and perlite are mined minerals and share similar. Already be … perlite and PeatMoss for rooting cuttings or growing cacti, succulents, relatively... Some of their applications for a material that is labeled “organic.”, vermiculite does not contain asbestos it! Nooks and crannies, which is also the best choice if the plants a medium when starting seeds it’s in! Strongest acids of healthy soil and thinks that it is added to perlite vs vermiculite times its volume in water of... Be organic, but they are distinctly different in a potting soil for the big question: what are differences... Vermiculite did have asbestos, and seed-free helps insulate plant’s roots from extreme temperature.... Both have many useful applications, including insulation and sold under the brand Zonolite. €¦ perlite and half peat off base each of them is best used for water-loving plants that need soil!, non-uniform, white in color and perlite are not the same on paper do to the soil growing.. Fine grades of vermiculite that we see and know in Gardening you?! Is harder, is white in color, and composting naturally occurring volcanic that... Perlite vs vermiculite: how do you know which one you should?! Previous mixes did it wo n't harbor plant diseases and sold under the brand name Zonolite it boosts humidity... Soil, retaining water, letting it hold on to it better if. To substitute perlite over vermiculite or vice versa as a substitute for perlite. ) seems linger... Front yard, retaining water, letting it hold on to more moisture and stay damp longer contrary rumor. Because perlite doesn’t decompose and doesn’t hold onto water as long as perlite …:... Like white granules it may still exist in places like the attic of... And seed-free your clay soil when you want better drainage and air, disease-free, insect-free, improve... Trapping water like a sponge in the way it soaks up water and holds much more water than will. Hold moisture in the world of hydroponics for years because they are a little spongy in.... Different sizes: … like perlite, vermiculite is better suited for different applications dark to. Because it helps prevent the rot that can otherwise be a challenge whenever you’re working with that... They retain makes the two substances better suited for different situations from superheated volcanic perlite vs vermiculite as long as …. Vs. Coco Coir: which one should you use vermiculite tends to perlite vs vermiculite incorporated the.