What is vermiculite and how is it different from perlite?

violetta1976(8 Portland OR)November 30, 2008

Hi all,

Sorry I haven't been on much. I've just quietly been watching my collection grow without posting much about it. Here are some recent pics if anyone's interested:

Photobucket Album

My question is this - what exactly is vermiculite and why do I need it? I had been buying my potting mix online and mixing it 50/50 with perlite, but I ran out and don't feel like buying more.

Here's what I'd been using:

Soiless Wicking Mix

I picked up some Miracle Gro AV potting mix and mixed it with perlite until it looked as light as what I was used to using. It's probably 2/3 to 3/4 perlite. Think that will be okay, or do I need this mystery substance called vermiculite that I keep reading about?

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I don;t use vermiculite.. I don't like it (just the feel of it bothers me for some reason--I'm weird that way)

Anyhooz, I use a mix of half ProMix BX and half perlite. All is well without adding vermiculite here :-)

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 3:44PM
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I'm sure you're fine. I think vermiculite and perlite are more or less accomplishing the same thing -- making a potting mix lighter and allowing for aeration, while improving drainage. Vermiculite is just smaller than perlite. Vermiculite is a better water holder though.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 8:02PM
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Perlite is a man made product which when added to a mix lightens it depending on how much you add. Vermiculite is a product of Mica which is found in nature and when added to mix, helps to hold water.
Fred in NJ

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 9:46PM
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violetta1976(8 Portland OR)

Awesome! Thanks everyone. Since the last thing any plants in Oregon need is more moisture, I'm guessing I'm fine with perlite alone. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 11:39PM
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robitaillenancy1(zone 5)

Vermiculite holds water, perlite allows water to drain easily.


    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 1:41AM
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Per Widipedia......"Perlite is an amorphous volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content, typically formed by the hydration of obsidian. It occurs naturally and has the unusual property of greatly expanding when heated sufficiently." It goes on to speak of it's ability to allow air to the potting medium.

Both perlite and vermiculite are naturally occurring substances that greatly expand when sufficiently heated, like popcorn. Perlite has no nutritional value, and vermiculite's is minimal.

Perlite costs about 42.00 a ton. Can you imagine how big a space that would take!?!?!?!?!

I prefer to use the coarse vermiculite in my mix, it doesn't cake.

Barbara, just coming out of a tryptophan come.....

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 12:42PM
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make that a coma.

Geez, it must be worse than I thought!


    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 12:16AM
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I found this website helpful.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 9:51AM
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Sorry, don't know why that did not post as a clickable link, but worth the effort to paste in your browser.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 10:02AM
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