If you are a gardener or a prospective gardener then perhaps you have been hearing all the hype about perlite or vermiculite and just wonder which of these is best to use on your garden, potted plants or horticulture. We shall hopefully address your concerns by the end of this write up. Anyone concerned about their plants would want to know Perlite vs Vermiculite so as to know how best to use these soil additives.
Properties of Perlite vs Vermiculite
Vermiculite is a naturally formed mineral that is rich in magnesium aluminum and silicate. It is usually mined from the ground and processed to be used as an additive to soils so as to improve nutrients levels. It is looks similar to mica in terms of structure, that is, it has layers or stacks. It has a characteristic dark brown color and is hard to tell its difference from the soil it has mixed with.
As for perlite, it is made from volcanic rock and is rich in silicon. It is usually crushed then heated so as to expand its particles. It contains microscopic bubbles that absorb and hold water. These pores also hold air.
Both vermiculite and perlite do not decompose over time. They both therefore provide a permanent solution for amending and improving the soil. In terms of PH, the two differ, with perlite being slightly alkaline and vermiculite is close to neutral. B0th are sterile, odorless and non-toxic.
Perlite vs Vermiculite Water Retention
Both of these substances are excellent when it comes to their water retention capabilities. Perlite being highly porous provides a large surface area for water storage. However, it also drains away excessive water than vermiculite. It therefore improves soil aeration.
Vermiculite is similar to a sponge in its structure. It therefore holds much water than perlite meaning it offers less aeration when compared to perlite.
Home Garden, Horticulture and Potting-Perlite vs Vermiculite
The two are both used in horticulture, garden and potting to retain moisture, improve soil structure by preventing compaction, and facilitate free movement of air. They are ideal for raising seedlings, indoor plant growing, and composting. The plant in question however determines which product you will use.
Perlite vs Vermiculite water retention and aeration differences will determine what plant shall thrive when these are mixed with soil. Plants that require lots of water such will do well under vermiculite whereas those that thrive in dry conditions such as cacti and succulents will do well under perlite. If you plant plants such as irises and forget-me-not then use vermiculite.
You should use vermiculite if you need seed trays to give strong seedlings. As for perlite you can use if you intention is to move seedlings to separate pots. It also helps loosen clay soil. Perlite also does an excellent job of regulating soil temperatures in the garden soil. In a nutshell, if you need to boost the water drainage, use perlite and if you would love to retain water use vermiculite.