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Perlite vs. vermiculite- pros and cons?

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by Selleri, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. Selleri

    Selleri Gardener

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    Hi, I was a bit tired and came home with a bag of perlite instead of the planned vermiculite. Naughty Wilkos keep them side by side to confuse us! [​IMG]

    What's the difference? Vermiculite is great for mixing into compost to germinate seeds and I generally throw some in when repotting house plants. Is perlite as good? Would it suit succulents or does it have some lurking chemistry which will poison the plants?

    Thanks very much! :)
     
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    • NigelJ

      NigelJ Total Gardener

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      @Selleri I've used both and at the moment use perlite as it's easier to get hold off. Personally I don't find much difference, perlite can be a bit dusty when dry.
      Both are naturally occurring minerals that expand a lot when heated, chemically they are fairly similar and both should be safe for plants.
       
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      • Perki

        Perki Super Gardener

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        Perlite is used for drainage and aeration, it retains some moister but not as much as Vermiculite. Vermiculite is used to absorb moister and aeration but doesn't aerate/drain as much as perlite.
        I personally use vermiculite for sowing seeds.
        Yes it would suit succulents, I use sharp sand for drainage. Perlite white ( Very white ) forever, that probably the only reason I dont use it.

        The local garden centre sells seedling which have grown in 100% vermiculite
         
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          Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
        • HarryS

          HarryS Eternally Optimistic Gardener

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          I use both , buy them at Wilkos . As you say bags are virtually identical . I use Vermiculite to sprinkle on the top of surface sown seeds . This gives retains the moisture around them and also lets the light through . Perlite I use to mix with the seed compost on some of the more delicate seeds I sow. I also use it in my baskets to keep the MPC a little more airy.
           
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          • pete

            pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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            Personally, I've never used either, always seems a very expensive way of providing aeration.
            I prefer sharp sand, if I think a compost is too claggy, and be careful with the watering.:smile:
             
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            • Mike Allen

              Mike Allen Gardener

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              In the past, a good mix for seed sowing was, Peat & Vermiculite. The practice was to fill a seed tray with moist peat spread the seed and then sprinkle vermiculte lightly over the top. Not using soil based compost kept the weight down. Germination was always fast and very good.

              Perlite I use for water retention, it also helps keep the compost from clogging thus helping drainage. A problem so often overlooked with pot and container growing is a build up of water can cause the compost to turn sour. Such conditions can often be deadly for the plants and an invite to bacteria.

              Sharp horticultural sand has it's uses in respect of drainage and keeping the compost open, however it can add unwanted weight at times.

              Quick word on pot, container and baskets growing. A good substitute for compost is COIR. It's made from coconut husks/fibre. Info on the internet. Hope this helps.
               
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              • Verdun

                Verdun Passionate gardener

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                Perlite for me. The only drawback I think versus vermiculite is the "dustiness" of perlite esp if using a large bag. Need to be careful using it for that reason.
                Perfect for seed sowing and for creating sharp drainage for succulents. However, I agree with Perki and these days prefer grit for plants needing sharp drainage. Grit adds weight too so better for stabilising pots. :)
                 
              • longk

                longk Total Gardener

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                Vermiculite for seed sowing (baggy method) and mpc/perlite/vermiculite mix for growing on seedlings as it is easier to seperate.
                Vermiculite in most potted plants.
                Sharp sand were needed.
                 
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