Perlite is a volcanic glass that has been used for horticultural purposes since the early 1920s. It is white, odorless, and contains up to 92% water. When heated, perlite expands from 2 to 20 times its original volume and becomes very light.
Horticulturists discovered long ago that perlite makes an excellent soil amendment and can be used to improve drainage, aeration, and thermal mass in soils. It is also increasingly being used as a component of hydroponic growing systems.
How to apply Perlite?
Perlite vastly aids drainage and helps retain water simultaneously. Following are a few ways in which you can apply perlite:
- You can utilize perlite to aid drainage for succulents and other plants that are sensitive to moist soil benefits. Mix perlite with compost at a ratio of around 1:4. Do this before planting to ensure an even mix.
- Perlite also aids in water retention in compost, which can drastically improve the chances of your cuttings taking root. Mix in perlite at a ratio of 50:50, fill the pots, water thoroughly, and then allow the compost mix to drain for several hours before inserting your cuttings.
- Perlite can be mixed into seed and cuttings compost at a ratio of 50:50 to create a moist environment perfect for seedling roots. It can also help cover seed that needs light to germinate.
Perlite vs vermiculite?
Vermiculite is a natural mineral that is heated to extreme temperatures to make it expand. The fascinating attribute about vermiculite is that it can absorb up to four times its weight in water.
Vermiculite is better for water and nutrient retention than perlite as its best usage is on plants that need more moisture to grow. It also protects seedlings against damping-off and other fungal diseases.
While it does also retain some water, perlite is primarily used to aerate the compost. It is the best for creating a free-drain potting compost for plants that need great drainage.
You could blend Vermiculite and Perlite together and achieve plenty of oxygen to the roots of the plants and lock the moisture in.
Where and how to buy perlite?
Perlite is available to buy in small to medium-sized bags at nurseries, garden centers, and online stores such as Daves Pet and Garden supplies. Being very lightweight, perlite is easy to order for home delivery.