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The Ultimate Guide to Perlite: Everything You Need to Know

Due to perlite’s unique chemical and physical properties, it is widely used for gardening. For many reasons, you should add perlite to the garden or potting soil and prepare potting mix. Perlite is very useful in making dense soil lighter and less compact. It is lightweight, odorless, clean, and very easy to use. You can add perlite to the soil to grow plants. Make sure to add perlite to the soil to grow those plants that require less water. What is perlite? Is Perlite Organic? What are the properties of perlite? How to use it in gardening? Does perlite cause fluoride burn in plants? And what are the benefits of perlite for plants? Today you will learn about all these in this article.

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What is perlite?

Perlite is a natural inorganic, non-toxic material derived from a volcano, chemically a type of volcanic glass containing a high percentage of water. Since perlite is a naturally occurring mineral, perlite is a non-renewable resource.

it is a substance added to soil for gardening. It is not a fertilizer and does not add any nutrients plants or the soil need. Its benefit lies in improving overall soil structure and keeping the soil loose and light. Perlite is much more porous, draining excess water more efficiently than vermiculite and other potting media. Hence it is a suitable medium for protecting the soil from waterlogging and protecting the plants from root rot and fungal diseases.

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Is Perlite Organic

From the point of view of chemistry, organic compounds contain carbon. Since perlite does not contain carbon, it is considered an inorganic material.

But from a horticultural perspective, “organic” refers to something produced naturally without synthetic processes or significant chemical changes.

Perlite has to be “popped” in an industrial process that turns it into the lightweight substance we see and know, but it is still a naturally occurring mineral extracted from the earth.

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How is perlite made?

Obtained directly from the ground, Perlite is a dense, amorphous volcanic glass with very high water content. In its natural state, Perlite is brown or black in color, as it is usually formed during the cooling process of lava.

During processing, the raw Perlite obtained from the ground is heated rapidly to temperatures of 1560°F to 1650°F, causing the moisture inside the volcanic glass to vaporize. Due to the water loss, it expands to 7 to 16 times its original size and becomes exceptionally light. It turns white during modification. In obtaining Perlite, it becomes chemically inactive, which can be used in gardening.

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How To Use Perlite In The Garden

Perlite is a valuable soil amendment for gardeners and can improve soil structure, aeration, and drainage. Here are some tips on how to use perlite in the garden:

Perlite In Soil Mixes

You can prepare high-quality soil at home by mixing equal amounts of perlite, loam, and peat moss. You can grow plants by filling this prepared soil in a pot and garden.

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On the soil surface

Perlite can also be scattered on the soil surface of the plant pot, in addition to covering the top surface of the potting mix to provide the necessary environment for seed germination. In addition, it helps in soil temperature regulation.

For seed germination

You can prepare a mixture of perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss (or cocopeat) in equal parts and plant the seeds to develop healthy seedlings and reduce disease.

For root cuttings:

Perlite helps encourage root growth in new cuttings. You can grow cuttings of plants with Perlite. It holds the moisture needed to keep the cutting alive and creates a favorable medium for new roots to develop.

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Using Perlite Benefits For Gardening

Perlites have tiny pores that can store nutrients and help keep your plant’s roots moist and oxygenated. There are many such advantages, due to which you should add perlite to the soil mixture, such as: –

  • It does not decompose. Therefore, adding perlite to potting soil mixes does not compact the soil too much, which helps plant roots to absorb enough oxygen from the soil.
  • Perlite has a nearly neutral pH level (around 6.6 to 7), making it an ideal component as a soil amendment.
  • It is physically stable and retains its shape, even in heavy or saturated soil.
  • It does not contain any toxic chemicals and improves the soil’s nutrient retention capacity.
  • Perlite is a porous material that helps maintain sufficient soil porosity and better aeration.
  • Perlite is trending for hydroponics gardening these days. Its advantage in hydroponics production is that perlite does not absorb any nutrients and therefore does not inhibit the absorption of nutrients by plants.
  • Perlite helps protect the plant’s roots from extreme fluctuations in temperature. It is also used as a protective coating over seedling trays or soil for growing seeds.
  • If perlite is mixed with soil, it retains moisture in the soil, but it does not allow the soil to store as much water, which does not lead to overwatering.

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Does perlite cause fluoride burn in plants?

Perlite does not contain fluoride, so it does not cause fluoride burns in plants. However, some fertilizers and soil amendments may contain fluoride, which can harm plants in high concentrations. Fluoride toxicity can cause leaf burn, leaf drop, and stunted growth in plants.

Choosing fertilizers and soil amendments that are low in fluoride, especially for plants that are sensitive to fluoride toxicity, such as citrus trees, grapes, and strawberries, is essential. When using fertilizers or soil amendments containing fluoride, following the recommended application rates and avoiding over-fertilizing is crucial.

Generally, perlite is a safe and beneficial soil amendment for plants, as it helps improve soil drainage and aeration, promoting healthy plant growth.

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