Which is better vermiculite or Perlite..

sanj(Rocky Mtn Z5)May 8, 2006

Hey gang...I cannot readily find vermiculite; but I find perlite easily in local stores. Can I replace vermiculite with Perlite. I heard that vermiculite last for 2 years, until it decomposes, then you have to add it again. However perlite lasts for a long time. Also vermiculite, could have some asbestos, or, asbestos like material/fine dust that could cause some breathing problem down the road. That is why some of the stores quit carrying it. I understand, that only one mine was contaminated, other than that I have not heard anything.

Can you give me some expert opinion on this?

Is vermaculite better than perlite? Do they have same benifits? Are they interchangeable?

Thanks for your response.

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squarefooterg(md z7)

it does not matter as long as where a dust mask which is advisble when gardening any way to keep bugs out of your mouth and nose.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 9:00PM
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josiwax(Z5 MI)

The perlite will float, vermiculite doesn't as much. Perlite is pretty much useless in my opinion. I really don't think you need as much of either as the book says. If you add a lot of peat moss it serves the same purpose of helping the soil hold moisture.

What it is useful for is germinating seeds.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 10:08AM
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Hi Sanj;

josiwax is right, Perlite is useless. Vermiculite is much better.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 11:32AM
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Doesn't perlite create air space for the roots? I don't use much peat because of the whole environmental issue with it. I use mostly compost, lots and lots of compost.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 11:11AM
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Demeter(z6 NJ)

"Doesn't perlite create air space for the roots?"

Not really. It pretty much forms little rounded balls like styrofoam. It tends to float to the top of soils, and it crushes to powder easily. It doesn't really have space where the roots can access air. Vermiculite, however, is thin sheets of material which are expanded to have spaces in between them. These spaces hold water and air and are accessible by root hairs.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 6:07PM
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sanj(Rocky Mtn Z5)

Great guys...based on your comments, I will be buying a big bag of vermiculite for my garden.
Ok since perlite is like styrofoam, can I crush styrofoam, and mix it with soil? will it make soil fluffy as well? Has anyone experimented with this?
I understand that perlite and styrofoam are completely differnt products.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 6:12PM
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Ray_Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)

Perlite is not *that* much like styrofoam, and though it crushes easily, its still a mineral when it breaks down, where styrofoam breaks down into refinery products - which one would you rather eat?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 6:23PM
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RHay(z5 Colorado)

You can get vermiculite in the Denver area at American Clay Works. 303-534-4044. They are a wholesaler to local greenhouses but will sell to the public. I bought some coarse vermiculite for $12.70 a bag versus $20 at the garden centers.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 10:56PM
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I checked American Clay Works. They quoted me $40 a bag. Maybe they realized they could get more for it. That is how much it costs at O'tools or Garden Country in Broomfield. Well that posting was back in 06 so the price has definitely gone up.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 11:15AM
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I left a bag of vermiculite out in the rain and a bag of per lite also. Accidentally of course. The vermiculite seemed to hold water like crazy and per lite just drains. The both help prevent compaction as far as aeration I use the felt smart pots so I'm not too worried about it

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:17PM
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from HGTV web site:
Q: What's the difference between vermiculite and perlite?

A: Both vermiculite and perlite are sterile products used as root-cutting media and as components of various potting mixes, but there's one distinct difference between them.

Vermiculite is a mineral--mica, to be exact. When heated, it puffs up, and in this state it absorbs and holds water. However, due to its tendency to compact, it shouldn't make up more than 25 percent of a potting mix.

Perlite is a white volcanic substance that is a derivative of silica. It too is heated so that it puffs up. Yet, perlite does not absorb water, making this the main difference between it and vermiculite.

vermiculite is used primarily in potting mixes (because of its water-holding capacity) and perlite for rooting cuttings. However, because perlite is sterile, the cuttings must be replanted in a potting mix that contains nutrients. Do this once roots begin to form.

You can use both perlite and vermiculite interchangeably. Because perlite and vermiculite are roughly one-tenth the weight of sand, they are ideal additions to potting mixes for folks who garden on terraces or rooftops where weight is an important consideration.

Note regarding vermiculite and cancer risk: Is there asbestos in the vermiculite sold for gardening uses? from www.health.state.mn.us

Not all vermiculite products contain asbestos, but some do. An EPA study showed some vermiculite products contain low levels of asbestos. Asbestos is found primarily in the unmixed vermiculite product although some was found in pre-mixed potting soils. For consumers using vermiculite on an infrequent basis the health risk is low. Greenhouse workers in daily contact incur a higher level of risk.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vermiculite and Gardening Use

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 7:46PM
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I don't use either one. Twigs, wood shavings, news paper, leaves, yeah just use compost it works well for me.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 1:24AM
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IMO if you are trying to do Mel's SFG method, I think Perlite and Vermiculite aren't economical at all, they are expensive. If you wanted to get the same result with what those 2 things do, then get sand if you want to loosen the soil and improve drainage or mix compost (or clay if you have a sandy soil) into the soil to help with water retention

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 10:38PM
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