Perlite: What It Is And How To Use It In Your Garden

Ed Wike
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What is Perlite?

Perlite is a volcanic glass that, when heated, expands into a seemingly endless open perforated pore structure. It is a lightweight material, which has numerous uses in hydroponic gardening. Perlite is used in the process of aeroponic cultivation because of its high water-holding capacity, property to hold oxygen, and effective capillary action.

Perlite is also used as drainage material in bottle gardens, where the plant roots are sealed in a closed chamber and water is delivered continuously through the capillary action of the perlite. Perlite is also used as a potting medium for planting in square pots and other containers. It is highly effective in providing necessary drainage and aeration while keeping the plant roots moist. This mulch is also inexpensive and easy to use.

You can use perlite in container gardening to create a lightweight, porous medium that will hold lots of water and provide good drainage. Perlite is a great substance to use as a top layer in your container garden; it wicks moisture and nutrients up to your plants, keeping them healthy and producing excellently.

How is Perlite Made?

Perlite is a single-celled volcanic glass that fills cavities left behind when ancient lava cooled. These rock cavities are often referred to as "negatively-charged" spaces.

Because of their size and shape, perlite particles break free from the surrounding rock and form a collection of small, hollow balls.

After the first stage above, pumice is added to stabilize the perlite mixture and make it easier to move. Self-driven tumblers then tumble the perlite and pumice mixture, causing the balls to rub together which causes them to become an even smaller particle size.

The perlite particles are then shipped to factories that use a drying method to remove any moisture. This drying makes the perlite temperature-resistant and forms a light, free-flowing material.

Using Perlite In Your Garden

Perlite is one of the most popular materials used in horticultural and hydroponic applications. It derived from glass which is fired at extremely high temperatures. This leaves the materials with a very negative charge, and the highly porous quality of perlite allows it to easily store and release water and air.

The shortage of water and fertilizer can be effectively treated by horticultural perlite. In garden soil, fertilizer supply is usually not enough even when you use a fertilizing agent. Adding perlite in wet soil will reduce the sandy texture in the soil and make the water absorption rate faster.

You can also use perlite to keep your plants hydrated. If the soil you plan to grow in lacks nutrients, the perlite’s porous surface will allow it to be soaked with nutrients and water before it becomes solid.

Perlite can be used for the growth of seeds to add nutrients that are lacking in the soil. Perlite is also ideal for seed growing media due to its ability to hold moisture. Perlite is a good choice for those who want to catch and also have the ability to hold water.

In hydroponic applications, perlite is also a versatile material that can be dissolved by water and nutrients until the absorption of water and the nutrient are both accomplished.

What Type of Perlite to Use

Perlite is a significant material in horticulture. It can be categorized as an aggregate; along with vermiculite, it comprises the two most popular garden growing media. Although both perlite and vermiculite have similar appearances, they are classified as different products in horticulture. Perlite is lighter and has the ability to retain more moisture.

Although they come in different textures and colors, garden centers keep perlite and vermiculite in separate displays. Most gardeners think that they can use either material to prepare soil for their plants, but it is not entirely true. The texture of vermiculite is much coarser in comparison to perlite. The result is that vermiculite maintains its structure well in sandy soil; this quality results in versatile growth factor in gardens. Perlite, on the other hand, performs better in soil with more clay.

The heat capacity of perlite paves the way for good transpiration. This quality makes perlite the best choice for growing plants in greenhouses. Furthermore, perlite can be used for potting soil in home and commercial gardens as the final layer. As with many things in horticulture, the texture of your soil largely determines the type of perlite you prefer for your garden.

Using Perlite In Hydroponics

Perlite is a lightweight material that absorbs water very quickly. It provides a good balance of air and water. The ability of perlite to hold water, called water retention capacity, makes it a good addition to your gardening medium.

Perlite is a natural material. It is made from a volcanic glass that is spun into very fine crystals and expanded. It is a diaphaneous material that is durable and chemically inert. It also resists compression, making it an excellent bulk material for growing plants.

There is no specific formula to the perlite and vermiculite combination. The mix ratio is determined by the needs of the plants, but a four to eight ratio of perlite to vermiculite is common. Perlite is added to the medium in order to provide a loose weight that will support and hold the other materials.

The plant roots are the center of attention when choosing a growing medium. Perlite can hold water, but there is a limited amount so it is necessary to choose a growing medium for the plant roots to grow.

Where To Buy Perlite

You have many options for purchase of this lightweight growing medium. You can find it at most large home centers or purchase it online. You can purchase perlite in bulk bags, or there are smaller quantities offered by many retailers. When you purchase perlite in bags, there will be holes in the bags for ease of carrying and moving. This is not the case for smaller packages, as you may have to break the cellophane seal.

You will likely find that the pricing for the perlite is very competitive, so it pays to do your homework and purchase online if possible. There are many different shipping options available as well. It may be cheaper to pay a bit more for immediate shipping than to save a few bucks by choosing a slower service.