If your garden soil is lacking aeration, water or nutrients, you need either Perlite or Vermiculite. Read on to learn about Perlite vs Vermiculite – Gro Indoor
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Difference between Perlite and Vermiculite

by Kunal Khatri 09 Apr 2023

Difference between Perlite and Vermiculite

Most people often confuse the two, Perlite and Vermiculite, when the truth is that although similar, the two have several differences that set them apart. If your garden soil is lacking aeration, water or nutrients, you need either Perlite or Vermiculite. Read on to learn about Perlite vs Vermiculite

Let us first start with Perlite and its uses.

What exactly is Perlite?

Perlite comes from crushed and heated volcanic rocks. It is made by heating the rock to the extent that it explodes.

Why use Perlite in your garden?

Perlite is an excellent addition to soilless and soil-based potting mixes. It’s mainly used to increase the plant's aeration by ensuring the soil is well-draining and not compact. Perlite has a pH of around 6.6 to 7.5 a slightly alkaline compound, ideal for promoting plant growth. It also protects the roots of your plant from switches in temperature by insulating them. It is non-toxic, which means that you can use this substance without rinsing and without having to worry about spreading diseases to your plants.

Most potting soils come with Perlite already included; however, you can add Perlite on top for plants that require dry growing media. The lightweight rocks float on water and can hold up to three times their weight in water. The use of Perlite raises the question if it is adequate for growing plants on its own.

Can you grow plants in just Perlite?

While reading the uses above, you might be wondering if the substance is enough for plant growth. The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. However, to put it as only as possible, it is not in most cases.

Your plants are likely to dry out fast if you use 100% perlite. You can go up to 50% but avoid using 100% mixtures. Now that we know what Perlite is let us move on to Vermiculite.

What is Vermiculite?

Vermiculite is found in various potting mixes and sold on its own and can put to your chosen media. Like Perlite, it also increases the aeration of the soil mixture. Vermiculite is a mix of laminar minerals that look like mica. These minerals (aluminum-iron magnesium silicates) are compressed, heated, and expanded till they turn into several thin layers of plates.

Why use Vermiculite in your garden?

Much like Perlite, Vermiculite is also toxin-free, odor-less, and sterile. It has a neutral pH of around 7. It increases nutrient and water retention when added to the soil. You can choose to add it solely or with Calcium, Potassium, and Magnesium. It speeds up seed germination when added along with peat. Vermiculite keeps your flower arrangements fresh and ensures your flowers bloom to their full potential. Whether it is for plants grown in a container or directly in the soil: Vermiculite is ideal for your water-loving plants.

Permite Vs. Vermiculite: What's the difference?

Before we discuss what sets them apart, let's summarize what makes them similar.

Similarities between Perlite and Vermiculite

Both these substances increase aeration in the soil and make it much less compact. They are both sterile, lightweight, odorless, and disease-free; neither do they rot or decompose. They both are used for cultivation and seed germination, propagation, transplants, containers, and even hydroponics. So now that you know their similarities, you must now be wondering what makes them different. Let us find out.

Difference between Perlite and Vermiculite

Now the main topic of our discussion today, the difference between Perlite and Vermiculite.

The difference in Moisture Retention

Both Vermiculite and Perlite are great for water retention; however, each has different properties that make it more suitable for application in one scenario than the other.

When is Vermiculite a better choice?

Vermiculite is a better choice for water-loving plants, as it has better water retention. Flowers like irises and touch-me-not thrive in Vermiculite. You should avoid using Perlite for them as they can dry out fast in it. Vermiculite is also a better choice when starting seeds, as it protects against damping-off and other fungal diseases.

When is Perlite a better choice?

Perlite is a better choice for plants that require dry soil. Plants such as succulents and cacti thrive in soil that has Perlite in it. Using Vermiculite on these plants can increase water retention, leading to root rot. Perlite should be used when you want to boost the humidity in your soil. It may not hold onto water as long as Vermiculite, but it does help increase humidity.

The difference in PH

Another major difference is between the PH of the two. However, neither of them are too acidic or basic. Vermiculite has a close to 7 (neutral) PH, whereas Perlite is more of the scale's alkaline side. Both make great soil amendments, so it's best to see what PH your plant prefers before deciding to use either of them.

Can you substitute Vermiculite for Perlite?

As you probably have figured out by now, the two do not make great substitutes for each other. One retains more water, while the other dries out the soil faster. However, suppose you are trying to make it work with what you have on hand. In that case, you can try experimenting by adjusting the watering needs. However, we recommend saving yourself the hassle of extra care you would need to take while substituting and chose the amendment that works best for your particular need at the moment.

Final Thoughts Shop at GroIndoor.com for all your Soil Amendment needs

Now that you know the main difference between the two, the time has finally arrived for you to start using the two to reap the benefits. If you're wondering where you can get the best deal on both of them, look no further! GroIndoor.com has everything you will ever need for your planting needs. Shop at Groindoor.com today

May 7th 2021
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