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What is perlite?
Perlite is an essential mineral mixed with many potting soils. Perlite is not really a growing medium on its own. It is the small white particles you see in most potting soils. Many are unaware of exactly why we use it in the garden.
Why is perlite in potting soil?
When added to a potting soil, perlite aids in aeration, increases drainage, and reduces compaction. Similar to coco coir, this mineral has a neutral pH.
While perlite soil is not renewable, it is easily reusable! It does not absorb nutrients like other soils such as rockwool or clay pebbles. You can sterilize old perlite and reintroduce it into a fresh grow medium because of this.
Using perlite in a potting soil greatly increases the plants ability to absorb water and oxygen. Perlite also functions well in hydroponic systems. It can help to reduce compaction in the grow medium.
Perlite protects the roots and helps prevent nutrient lockouts, by allowing nutrients and water to drain out of the system. This also helps with improved drainage and root growth.
How do you make perlite soil?
On its own, perlite isn't a soil. You can't buy a bag of perlite and grow plants in it. But, you can make your own perlite soil by choosing a potting soil and adding perlite to it!
This is actually recommended with many garden soils, because it really helps improve the soil conditions. As you know now, it increases aeration, increases drainage, and prevents excess compacting of the soil. If you are considering making your own soil, check out our super soil recipe.
Not sure which soil you are going to use yet? Check out our article on the best garden soils in our blog for our help.
How much perlite do I add to soil?
The amount of perlite you need to add to your soil varies depending on the soil type. But, it is recommended that your perlite makes up between 10-40% of overall soil volume. If you need better water retention, consider only adding 10-20% perlite. If you are struggling with your soil retaining too much water, add more perlite to increase drainage.
Perlite vs Vermiculite
If you are looking for an alternative to perlite, consider vermiculite. This compound is very similar to perlite, but retains moisture better and for longer. It aerates as well as perlite, and is a great seed-starter medium.
If you want to learn more about these two, check out our blog post comparing perlite vs vermiculite. Some people opt to use diatomaceous earth, but some feel it retains too much water.
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Visit our learning center to get a full breakdown of every grow media available! If you have any questions we’re here to help. Reach out to our master growers at 888-815-9763 and let us help you through the process!