Perlite vs vermiculite

Use perlite or vermiculite?

You may have asked yourself this quite a few times already. Which one of these two do you want to use for you hypertufa project? Which one is better or suits your project best? Find your answer on any question you had on these two materials.

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Perlite vs vermiculite

Perlite and vermiculite have some properties in common but they are also different from each other. Here is a list of properties, advantages and disadvantages of both ingredients.

Properties

Perlite is a vulcanic rock that has been heated to high temperatures.The crude rock then expands like popcorn as the water is being vaporized and creates tons of tiny bubbles which make perlite such a lightweight and porous product.
Vermiculite is a natural occuring mineral that also expands greatly after it has been heated to high temperatures.
If you are looking to aerate your soil you can add either perlite or vermiculite. They both offer a great deal of air to the roots of the plants which makes them great rooting mediums.

Moisture

Here is where perlite and vermiculite are different from each other. Vermiculite is known to act like a sponge. It has a higher water retaining capacity holding moisture near to the plant roots. The good thing about this is that vermiculite prevents all the nutrients from being washed out. It absorbs the nutrients and releases them as required to the plant roots.
Perlite on the other hand allows water to drain more. It is still capable of holding a lot of moisture in its hooks and crevices of it’s pores but it’s porous identity makes it easier for excess water to escape.

Advantages and disadvantages

As each ingredient has its own characteristics, so are they to be used for different purposes. Vermiculite has a high water retaining capacity.If you need a soil that will retain moisture for example a mushroom substrate, vermiculite is a great additive. In short: if you have very thirsty plants your better off with vermiculite.

Plants that will grow fine without being soaked in water will be happy with a perlite mix. Its hard, porous nature still makes it a great ingredient to increase the humidity. Also it will offer great aeration and drainage for your plants.

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