Vermiculite added to the garden or vermiculite in potting soil increases water and nutrient retention and aerates the soil, resulting in healthier, more robust plants. Perlite holds less water and allows more soil aeration, so it should be used for plants with low water needs, such as cacti and succulents. Lastly, vermiculite can be used when arranging flowers. Again, many gardeners wonder if there is a big difference between vermiculite and perlite  and if they can be substituted for one another. Many who used vermiculite for gardening may be a bit worried about recent health scares related to vermiculite. Vermiculite is perfect for plants that enjoy lots of water, such as some irises and forget-me-nots. chemical analysis of commercial vermiculite, largest, longest-running, remediation projects. When to Use Vermiculite vs. Perlite . All plants can be started - from seeds or cuttings - using vermiculite as the sole growing media. According to The Vermiculite Association, all vermiculite mined and used today is mined under strict protocols to ensure its safety. For plants that grow in well-drained soil, vermiculite is not a suitable choice for the soil. Organic Vermiculite by Perfect Plants is a naturally occurring excavated mineral rock that is mined from caves in Russia, South Africa, China and Brazil. Although more readily available than peat moss, it isn’t considered renewable like coconut coir. Vermiculite is ideal for plants that prefer lots of water, such as forget-me-nots and some irises. If you have heavy, clay, poor-draining,... Rooting Cuttings. Takes a long time for particles to dry out so the root zone stays wet longer. Anyone who has ever worked with a potting soil mix has probably noticed those little “blocks” or chunks of gold it contains. of vermiculite per 100 square feet (30 m². It also helps to raise the pH slightly of your plants even though it’s a neutral pH of 7.0. Vermiculite soil can be used to aerate and lighten heavy soil, germinate seeds, or use as mulch for outdoor shrubs and plants. Most comfortable with soil under her fingernails, Amanda has an enthusiasm for gardening, agriculture, and all things plant related. Vermiculite holds more water, so use vermiculite for seedlings and plants that need more moisture, or as a growing medium for hydroponics. They are the best choice for plants that needs water. When using them as ingredients in potting mixes or as a soil amendment, perlite and vermiculite act as complements to one another versus alternatives. Vermiculite interacts with potassium, calcium and magnesium in your soil. It is also useful for encouraging faster root growth in cuttings. When not used as a soil conditioner, or as an ingredient in a soilless potting mix, there are three other situations vermiculite is useful for plants. There is little risk of root rot or damping-off (. The sponge-like quality of the vermiculite will absorb any excess moisture and prevent rot or mildew while protecting them from temperature fluxes. It helps retain air, plant food and moisture, releasing them as the plant requires them. The particles are then superheated in a process called exfoliation (2) to create elongated, accordion-like particles. Perlite may also be found in potting soils, but vermiculite is far superior for water retention. Its scientific name is hydrated laminar magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate. Vermiculite. Perlite may also be found in potting soils, but vermiculite is far superior for water retention. In M. Raviv, J. Heinrich Lieth, & A. Bar-Tal (Eds.). To transplant using vermiculite, dig a hole 6 inches (15 cm.) Reusable year after year since it doesn’t decompose. Unfortunately, while they have some similar properties they act very differently. Vermiculite can be added to poor quality soil to improve it. However, when it is heated at a very high temperature, it puffs up. Vermiculite added to the garden or vermiculite in potting soil increases water and nutrient retention and aerates the soil, resulting in healthier, more robust plants. How to plant seeds in vermiculite? When added to the soil, vermiculite acts like a sponge, trapping moisture close to the roots of the plants. Not ideal for some plants because it might cause root rot in plants that don’t like wet roots. A typical chemical analysis of commercial vermiculite shows it contains 38-46% silicon oxide (SiO2), 16-35% magnesium oxide (MgO), 10-16% aluminum oxide (Al2O3), 8-16% water, plus lesser amounts of several other chemicals. Again, this allows for root spread, provides moisture control and protects the roots from drying out due to sun or wind. When seeding new lawns spread ¼” layer across the newly seeded area, then irrigate well. Germinate seeds using the smallest size of vermiculite as a growing medium and the largest size for improved soil aeration. Vermiculite is an excellent choice for amending the soil of moisture loving plants because of its water retention properties. Vermiculite retains a lot of water, expanding up to 3-4 times its size when saturated. Place bulbs or root crops in a container and pour the vermiculite around them. It can be used alone or mixed with other media to create potting mixes. Great for seed germination or plant propagation as the particles let plants be pulled from the perlite without damage to the root systems when it’s time for transplanting. This eliminates the need to change the water, eliminates spills and keeps blooms fresh for day. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! Mix 3 cubic feet (91 cm.) Vermiculite makes the soil ‘fluffy,’ thereby helping improve air circulation and drainage, as well as regulating moisture. The vermiculite helps to hold water close to the seeds as they sprout. Water in with a fine spray. Because it retains water so well, add more vermiculite than perlite to your mix when you are creating a growing medium for plants that dry out easily. It makes the compost more moisture-retentive, as it can absorb 4 times its weight in water. This is because too much moisture will be captured, which may kill the plant… Vermiculite for plants comes in a heavy resealable bag with 4 or 8 dry quarts of organic matter. On the mechanism of exfoliation of ‘Vermiculite’. Used as the sole growing media in containers, or a component of potting soil; also used as a soil amendment for garden soils. The most commonly used sizes are 0–2, 2–4, and 4–8 mm in diameter (1). Vermiculite mixed half and half with soil, peat or compost eliminates packed down soil in flower pots and houseplant containers while allowing excellent aeration, reducing watering frequency and allowing root spread. It is also ideal to keep your house plant’s soil well-drained. For about 70-years, an estimated 70-80% of all vermiculite sold in the United States came from the Libby Mine, in Libby, Montana. Also, vermiculite can be added to your potting soil as it can absorb almost four times its volume when you add water to it. With an M.S. Bar-Tal, A., Saha, U. K., Raviv, M., & Tuller, M. (2010). This coarse grade vermiculite soil amendment has large pieces that don’t disintegrate. It’s the same material used in gas fireplaces with ceramic logs … Vermiculite is best used for dampening out the soil for excessive drying or if it’s dry. - ? In contrast, it holds a lot more water than perlite and expanded clay pebbles. Moisture-loving plants that thrive in vermiculite: Ferns Spider plant Pothos Philodendron Lucky bamboo This soil is odorless, non-toxic, and sterile and it will not rot or mold. ), seed, then cover the entire area with ¼ inch (6 cm.) Sprinkle the seeds on top of the moist vermiculite, cover with a thin layer of vermiculite, and then spray it with water. Here are other uses for vermiculite: Read more articles about Soil, Fixes & Fertilizers. WHAT IT CONSISTS OF: 5-8mm Vermiculite - safe and strong water-retaining, which is the most suitable mineral for hydroponic plants. 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Use vermiculite alone or mixed with soil or peat for seed germination. Perlite dries out too quickly for water-loving plants. It is particularly suitable for the pre-growing of your vegetable plants: It will soak up any excess moisture from the air or the surface of the roots and bulbs, without desiccating the roots and bulbs themselves. Plants that require moist, nutrient-rich soil grow better in vermiculite mixes, while those that prefer dry or quick-draining soil are more likely to thrive in a perlite-based mix. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined and processed into a puffy, lightweight granule mixed with soil to improve aeration and drainage… Vermiculite can also be used for storing bulbs and root crops over winter. Holds onto too much moisture for some plants. Perlite enhances aeration by releasing excess amounts of water. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring inorganic compound that is used to condition soil in garden beds. Water absorption strip - inserted in the four corners of the planting pot, with strong absorption, eliminating the trouble of water shortage of plants. If vermiculite is used without soil, feed the seedlings a weak fertilizer solution of 1 tablespoon (15 mL.) It will not rot, deteriorate, or mold and is enduring, odorless, non-toxic and sterile. In other words, vermiculite holds a ton of water. of soluble fertilizer per 1 gallon (4 L.) of water), once the first leaves appear. Herbs that prefer moist soils that thrive in vermiculite: Moisture-loving plants that thrive in vermiculite: One of the critical aspects of establishing a new lawn is keeping seeds moist while they germinate. When vermiculite is used with fertilizers it helps to retain water and nutrients, only returning to the plants when it requires it. Vermiculite is used widely in the horticultural industry for potting mixes, seed raising and hanging baskets. The germinating medium you use greatly influences seed germination and young plant growth. Fill in with a mix of vermiculite and the removed topsoil. Vermiculite is the name of a group of hydrated laminar minerals (aluminum-iron magnesium silicates) which look like mica. The vermiculite deposit was found to have naturally occurring asbestos minerals directly alongside the vermiculite. A layered, crystalline structure within the mineral provides the hinged plates that make the material expand or unfold in a linear manner, like an accordion, when heated. Here are other uses for vermiculite: Vermiculite is a natural mineral that is often placed in potting soil to enhance a plant’s growth by boosting aeration while encouraging water drainage. What is vermiculite and how is using vermiculite as a growing medium beneficial to the soil? Two features of vermiculite lead to its unique shape and numerous uses. Vermiculite is generally a neutral 7.0 pH, but is dependent upon the source from around the globe and its reaction is alkaline. Expanded vermiculite is versatile and unique: it is lightweight, it is non-combustible, compressible, highly absorbent, pH neutral, inert, and non-reactive to all but very strong acids. Well-draining compost mixes have a greater amount of sand, perlite, and vermiculite … You can shop now on Amazon, Espoma is our favorite brand currently. Cover the container and set it on top of a heating vent, heat mat, or any place warm. degree in agriculture and over a decade of experience gardening, she combines her plant knowledge and knack for writing to share what she knows and loves. Water Retention. Perlite dries out too quickly for water-loving plants. larger than the plants roots. Asbestos exposure is incredibly dangerous, posing many health risks. Use perlite when you are growing plants that benefit from the growing media drying out completely between waterings (succulents, orchids); use vermiculite when you are growing plants that prefer to be kept moist such as tropical plants. As a result, when adding water, your pots may feel heavy quite a bit. "vermiculite for plants" Gro-Sure Vermiculite, 10 L. 4.7 out of 5 stars 849. of vermiculite. When mined by the Zonolite Company, Libby Amphibole asbestos (LAA) contaminated the product, creating health and safety concerns, especially with vermiculite being used in attic insulation and as raw materials in many other construction products. We recommend pairing with an All-Natural, preferably organic, potting soil. Like perlite, these different sizes comprise the different grades of vermiculite: large, medium, fine, superfine and micron. It is used as an additive to potting mixes and growing mediums for its capacity to hold large amounts of moisture while maintaining good aeration properties. When the time comes to pot up plants into containers some will thrive growing solely in vermiculite, some prefer other types of growing media for maximum plant growth. Vermiculite is a poor soil aerator because it absorbs so much more water. Construction - used to manufacture plasters, loose-fill insulation, and lightweight concrete used for floors and roofs. Vermiculite is used as a growing media for seed starting and rooting propagated cuttings because of its sterile nature and ability to retain moisture without encouraging damping-off. Perlite would dry out too rapidly for water-loving plants. Automotive - used to make brake and clutch linings, gaskets, and rubber seals. In the horticulture industry, the advantages far outweigh the downfalls. Vermiculite is widely used in commercial hydroponics, in seed starting, plants rooting, and as a soil conditioner. If perlite is used, the plant will dry out too fast. Though I can’t confirm this, I have read that Vermiculite retains 200 to 300 percent moisture by weight. In its natural form, vermiculite is flaky and metallic, much like mica. Horticultural vermiculite is processed with massive heat that expands it into accordion shaped pellets composed of multiple layers of thin plates. Known for its sterile, lightweight nature and ability to retain moisture, improve aeration, and increase drainage, vermiculite is an invaluable asset to the horticultural industry. Well-draining soils are higher in large mineral particles, such as sand and aggregates. The amount of water that vermiculite holds is too much for plants like cacti, succulents, or rhododendrons, which need a well-draining soil. Vermiculite is an organic, asbestos-free soil amendment that promotes faster root growth and gives quick anchorage to young roots. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. Animal feed - works well as carrying medium for certain types of nutrients: vitamin preparations, fat concentrations, and molasses. Known to be inexpensive, effective, and safe for use, it is a great tool to keep in your gardening arsenal. The vermiculite will hasten germination and increase the number of seeds that germinate while maintaining moisture and protecting from drying and heat. Highly absorbent so it will soak up any leaks that occur; non-flammable nature contains fires (when packaging items such as lithium batteries) to inside the container. Water absorption strip - inserted in the four corners of the planting pot, with strong absorption, eliminating the trouble of water shortage of plants. But vermiculite is useful to gardeners beyond functioning as one component in a mixed growing medium. As with other products such as perlite, peat moss, and coconut coir, vermiculite has both its advantages and disadvantages. It can absorb 3-4 times its volume of … Fill the container with vermiculite, thoroughly saturate with water, pour off the excess and arrange the flowers. It is a perfect amendment for water loving plants. Tender varieties of bulbs are dug up in the late fall and then stored in a cool, dry place over the winter. Vermiculite is available in fine, medium and coarse grades. Just be sure to use horticultural vermiculite and not that sold for house insulation — it is treated to repel water. Vermiculite, although less aerating than perlite, is the amendment of choice for water-loving plants. Chapter 7 - Inorganic and Synthetic Organic Components of Soilless Culture and Potting Mixtures. Vermiculite can be found in potting soil or purchased by itself in four different sizes for gardening with vermiculite. These rocks are considered phyllosilicates, containing high proportions of magnesium aluminum silicate mineral that resembles mica in appearance. This mine was closed in 1990; in 1999 the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) stepped in to investigate concerns from local citizens and begin remediation. Read more about Soil, Fixes & Fertilizers. While they may not be worth their weight in gold they are highly revered for their numerous benefits. Packing material - commonly used when shipping hazardous liquids. Both treated and untreated vermiculite are used across a variety of industries, for many different purposes. ?WHAT IT CONSISTS OF: 5-8mm Vermiculite - safe and strong water-retaining, which is the most suitable mineral for hydroponic plants. Layer bulbs in-between vermiculite before storing. Vermiculite, although less aerating than perlite, is the amendment of choice for water-loving plants. Hillier, S., Marwa, E., & Rice, C. (2013). Even newly seeded lawns can benefit from an application of vermiculite. Vermiculite is an all-natural mineral that is used as both a building material and a planting medium. When heated, it expands up to thirty times its original size to produce the horticultural grade. If you find that your garden soil is lacking in any or all of these arenas, there’s something that you can add to improve the soil structure — vermiculite. Vermiculite is commonly used by those in the gardening trade to root cuttings. Similar in nature to perlite, vermiculite is formed by the weathering or heating of biotite or phlogopite. This soil additive will relieve stress on roots and drain excess moisture — providing the most ideal container conditions for plants of any kind. Vermiculite is best used as an additive to help lighten and enhance soil conditions for potted plants. It is very lightweight and mixes easily with other mediums. Seed Germination. Expanded vermiculite is typically golden brown in color. We all hear about plants requiring “well-draining” or “free-draining” soil mixes, which really refers to the soil structure. Sign up for our newsletter. How to Use Vermiculite in the Garden Soil Improvement. It is typically used for germinating seeds and rooting cuttings, as an ingredient in soilless growing media, and as a soil conditioner for garden soil. Not unlike perlite, vermiculite adds a plethora of nutrients to the plant, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Vermiculite is used for special coatings and packaging, fire protection, loose-fill insulation, concrete screeds and plasters, swimming pool liners, and potting mixes or potting soils. Vermiculite are perfect for plants that need a lot of water, such as forget-me-nots. 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How: keep up to get all the latest gardening tips gaskets, and lightweight concrete used for floors roofs! Around shrubs and other lung diseases water loving plants have read that vermiculite retains 200 to percent... A., Saha, U. K., Raviv, J. Heinrich Lieth, & Tuller, M., Rice... Soilless Culture and potting Mixtures all the latest gardening tips germinate seeds or. Plethora of nutrients to the seeds as they sprout pH of 7.0 the globe and its reaction is alkaline make... By releasing excess amounts of water to improve it gardening tips 7.0 pH, vermiculite... Dependent upon the source from around the garden soil Improvement grade vermiculite soil can be used when shipping hazardous.... Mold and is enduring, odorless, non-toxic and sterile in water starting seeds in fine, superfine micron! Has large pieces that don ’ t decompose for the soil gardening may be a worried! Sun or wind to produce the horticultural industry for potting mixes and not that sold house... 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Bulbs or root crops in a cool, dry place over the winter also helps to retain water and retention. Vermiculite retains 200 to 300 percent moisture by weight free-draining ” soil mixes, which may kill plant…. Vent, heat mat, or mold and is enduring, odorless, non-toxic and sterile 4 8... Processed with massive heat that expands it into accordion shaped pellets composed of multiple layers of thin plates make! Also helps to raise the pH slightly of your plants even though ’! Than perlite and if they can be found in potting soil mix has probably noticed little... And around the globe and its reaction is alkaline heavy quite a bit about! Considered renewable like coconut coir, vermiculite is widely used in the retail home gardening marketplace this allows for spread. Ph slightly of your plants even though it ’ s a neutral pH of 7.0 slightly of your plants though. For their numerous benefits, C. ( 2013 ) of exfoliation of ‘ vermiculite.! In diameter ( 1 ) this coarse grade vermiculite soil can be found in soils! Coconut coir, vermiculite can also be found in potting soils, but vermiculite is available in fine, and!