Ever take a look into one of the potting containers and see those little white specks and wonder if they are styrofoam? If so, you are not alone. Although similar looking, those little white balls are actually little expanded rocks called perlite and are the magic to healthier plants and gardens. It is an essential component of both gardening and hydroponics.
What is Perlite?
Perlite is a naturally occurring amorphous volcanic glass . It is like a volcanic popcorn in which manufacturers heat the material which is full of water and minerals at high temperatures and it “pops” just like popcorn in the microwave.
The chemical made up is 75% silica or silicon dioxide and 25% mix of aluminium oxide, oxides of sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
The resulting expanded perlite is a lightweight material full of tiny little air pockets which is clean, sterile, and compact resistant.
- Neutral pH suitable for gardening and hydroponics
- Highly porous and promotes air aeration
- Sterile nature makes it highly suitable for propagation, starting seeds or cuttings with little to no damage to root system when transplanting
- Non-toxic substance with trace elements
- Can be used alone or mixed with other potting media to create potting mixes
- Cost effective as it can be reused
- Stable and retains its shape (depending on brand)
Applying Perlite in the Garden
There are several uses for perlite around the garden. It can be used as a standalone growth medium or worked into the potting mix. Follow these tips to improve your garden or plant health before winter:
- Aerate your soil or potting mix – Add to your soil or potting mix to enhance the drainage and aeration
- Rooting seeds or cuttings – Assists in seed germination, propagation and helps to encourage root growth in new cuttings.
- Use as a wicking agent– Scatter perlite over your garden bed or pots to act as a wicking agent. The perlite will eventually work itself into the soil, improving water retention and draining.
Follow successful gardeners by including this magical ingredient into your gardening today!