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Perlite or Vermiculite?

Posted by Bob_In_Colorado 5 (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 8, 12 at 21:44

I wanting to use one of these to increase oxygenization in my soil.

I've heard vermiculite releases iron. True?

I've read some of the posts on here, but there's nothing definitive.

Anyone?


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

  • Posted by gjcore 5 South Aurora Co. (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 8, 12 at 22:08

I thought perlite and vermiculite were mostly for container growing and too expensive to use effectively in garden beds.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Perlite can be bought fairly cheaply. The vermiculite is moderately more spendy.

I'm very curious about everyone's opinions.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Perlite is used in potting soil to create more aeration so the roots don't drown, vermiculite is used in potting soil as something to retain moisture, in those tiny layers.

In garden soil, the worms and other critters are going to keep opening up the soil, letting the water drain out more quickly and allowing air in, so unless you have something out of the ordinary, adding organic matter will attract the worms and do that role for you.

Perlite stays intact, vermiculite breaks down into tiny slivers pretty quickly.

That said, I use fairly large 4 x 4 by 6" deep nursery pots to start up my tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse, and transplant the whole bundle of potting soil into the garden. After all these years, the amount of perlite starts to build up, and that soil is pretty nice.

I also do a lot of plantings in containers, and recycle the soil from year to year. The organic matter and vermiculite break down, leaving the perlite, and I just need to add more organic stuff each spring.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

After some extensive reading, I've decided to do both..... Here's why.

The perlite will aerate the soil and create structure.

The vermiculite will do the same, but it holds water and makes it available for the plants. Here's the kicker though, it'll also store and hold micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, etc., and the plants can access it when necessary.

The majority will be perlite simply to make more oxygen available. That was my original goal. I light keep s'more vermiculite closer to the transplants when I put them in to help feed them.

Believe me I understand that in an ideal world I have this here and that there and add this now and do this then. I get the importance of worms. This is all new soil. I raised the level of my raised beds by 2 boards and more than that in my corn garden so that soils not broken in yet and I don't have the time I used to. :-(

We'll see how things go.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Good luck! I wish I could get those big bags of perlite here, but the nurseries don't stock it, and the shipping is prohibitive.

If I could, I'd mix in a whole lot more in my potting soil mix.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

David,
Do you have masonry yards anywhere around you? We buy the big bags of perlite through the masonry yard.We go through so much of it in our container mixes.We found it so much cheaper going through the yard then through the greenhouses..Home depot has had it in a few times here in large bags as well.Bought it on clearance.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

I hadn't thought of that - there may be some down in Farmington, NM, that I can check out.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Bob,
Your last post after research was entirely accurate and clarifies the usage of each. I can get 4 cu ft bags of either here in Bozeman, MT for anyone near this area. The perlite is a nice addition to soil used in large containers or raised beds - it is light weight and doesn't break down quickly into the silt like particles that vermiculite does. As you pointed out, it also doesn't act as a carrier for micronutrients either - just an aerator and soil lightener.
B


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

David - Durango HD has Perlite in the big bags. I need to grab a couple of them to till into the veggie garden before I plant it.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

You know, I drove by there yesterday on a youth sports trip to Pagosa Springs, and thought about stopping there, as well as some brickyard I've heard about up the hill on 550. I will go over next week.

Thanks! I'll get several.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Found a 6 cu foot bag at Cliff Rose, $44.

Any tips on controlling the dust?

(cough)


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

  • Posted by skybird z5, Denver, CO (My Page) on
    Fri, May 18, 12 at 14:33

It's sometimes recommended to add water to the bag before using it, David, but but I question the advisability of adding water and then using it immediately since water can be a "dispersant" when added to "dust" and it seems to me it could make the problem worse in the beginning. I'd try cutting a "hose size" hole in the corner of the bag, adding some water and then waiting 24 hours before using the stuff--maybe agitate the bag occasionally to help wet it completely.

Whatever you do, try to breath as little as possible! Perlite is volcanic, and like other volcanic dust, it's like inhaling microscopic glass shards into your lungs. You don't use enough to probably do any serious damage, but the stuff scares me and I'd certainly go with the Better Safe Than Sorry theory. I used to cringe at Paulino's when they'd bring a yard of soil in and then have the crews dump several large bags of perlite on top of it and mix it in. The dust cloud was so bad at times that you could hardly see across the room! Whenever I saw that I elected to find a job to do outside until the "dust settled" again!

How long can you hold your breath???
;-)
Skybird

Here is a link that might be useful: Perlite exposure (in commercial operations)


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Thanks, Skybird - I put on a dust mask, but I'll try using water as well.

Once it gets turned into the rest of the mix, the dust goes away pretty quickly.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

I just mixed mine into the new vegetable garden. The soil was about the right dampness to till, there was a slight breeze, and I cut a corner off the bag and walked along with it close to the ground. It poured out with minimal dust, and the breeze carried kept it out of my face. I dumped some damp Sheep N Peat and a bag of damp peat on it, raked it lightly to spread it, and tilled it in. It looks great and I'm glad that chore is done.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

I mixed up a few cubic feet of 'rooting mix' in the greenhouse the other day, something that, hopefully, will keep the cuttings aerated and moist at the same time. I'm trying to root a few dozen clematis, the problem I'm having is the rooting soil just stays too wet. The idea is to eventually plant them all along the fence.

The rest of the bag will be incorporated into the filling for the fleet of containers as I go along.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Please post back on how the clematis rooting project goes. Are you trying a mist frame? I thought about setting one up and rooting some of my fav. roses and clematis this year.

A wall of clematis would be amazing. I have a set of plantings taking over a big trellis in the garden - just the cheapie bareroots from Walmart. It took them about 3-4 years to really get a head of steam going (I think I under-fed).


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

David, I'm sure you've thought of this.... Have you tried tipping them in?


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Bob, I've tried several times, but for some reason, I haven't had much luck. It does seem to be the easiest way to do so.

Mexicanhat - for propagating the clematis, I'm using a pair of those one pound size, organic salad containers I buy at Safe Way - pic at the link. Now, I have a enough of these containers to do 10 at a time. - and an excuse to not grow my own salad.

The problem I've been having is the stems rot - hence the vermiculite.

Which, btw, is a whole lot easier to deal with by using a sprinkling can and a qt of water added before diving in.

Here is a link that might be useful: link to pic of hill billy propagation chamber


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

When you tip in, are you using rooting powder or anything? Are you trying to tip into te ground or a pot?

I always use rootone and go into the ground right by the plant. I root grapevines so maybe they're easier. :-)


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

I haven't tried it for a few years, but before, I've tried scraping a bit off the stem and using rooting powder, then putting a rock over it, come back next year. Nothing.

There must be some 'trick' to this, but I've yet to discover it.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

I take the part of the plant that I want to tip in, be sure it has a couple leaf nodes on it, loosen up some soil, put rootone on the node area, put that in the loosened soil, lightly pat it and then put a rock on it. If you do it early enough, you can sometimes sever the new plant from mama before the winter and transplant the little baby.

I wouldn't scrape the plant at all, that would seem to let in chances of infection, diseases, etc.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

David,
Our tip for the perlite, cut a corner off the top fill with water then poke hole in the bottom for drainage,,On mason job sites we do the masks and such because we cannot add moisture,,,,
The clemitis, it really depends on what ones your doing..For most I tend to do I take my cuttings about late June earl;y July when the new growth is just starting to harden,use an internode cutting..dip and toss into my rooting mixture which is perlite/sand/peat on my rooting table with bottom heat..These also do fine out side with a bit less of a success rate...If your going to do them in ground make sure your doing the scrap and dip into a root hormone with new growth which has hardened part way,, June and early Jule in out zones, then toss the rock on or place in in the pot until rooted,, Course I am running on zone 5 montana,, you may need to adjust to early June for your are which seems to be a bit ahead of us..


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Thanks for the tips, folks! I'll report back on the successes/failures.....


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

gardenbutt - how far below the flowers do you snip the cuttings? And how long do you leave them on the heat? And how long - roughly - before they take?


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Thanks for the link, David. I use those containers for peat pots, but didn't think about stacking them to make a tall chamber. Good plan!

Hattie


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

David,
It really depends a bit on what type of clematis I am rooting. The Rogerson site is pretty close to how I propagate mine..Here is the link if you scroll down to the Propagation info put on in 2009, they explain it a bit better then I do..
http://rogersonclematiscollection.org/?cat=12
Mary


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Thanks, Mary - thats extremely helpful. - pure perlite, etc.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

NEITHER! OK here's why,EVERYTHING you know about them was generated by the people who sell the crap. BIOCHAR (look it up ) is 10 times as good and even lighter,RED LAVA screened at 5/16th ROCKS.
why NOT you say, I will not site my tests and experience as a worm farmer for 30 years,because that makes me the Big Kahuna of f%%$-all I will simply say..make two compost heaps,with worms,in one put all your old perlite and vermiculite leftover potting soil,in the other just put food and veggies. watch the worms.Worms trump pretty much anything as a soil additive they MAKE the stuff.

Other reason KILNS burning 24-7 are an environmental nightmare,and that's what you support when you buy their BS.

under a microscope perlite is broken christmas balls,Vermiculite is broken window glass,jee which one would you prefer in your LUNGS!?>

put a pile of each and a pile of red lava in your yard ,next year you will have PLANTS growing all over the red lava,and pollution in the other two.
the ONLY reason the Industry prefers it is less weight for shipping,they save Money at your expense,as usual.
nico


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Ah, let me take this chance to report on my experiences of using pure perlite for propagation.

This works wonders. Its sterile, holds moisture but allows air to circulate, and I've been able to propagate roses, clematis, salvias, petunias, etc. with a much higher success rate.

I'm using the same, doubled, 1 lb boxes of organic salads from Safeway, although I recently purchased some high domes that fit the standard trays. Fill clean pots with perlite, snip the cuttings, dip in rooting hormone (for roses, use a sharp knife, slit an inch cut by a node, then dip). Water in, solidifying the perlite around the cuttings, until water starts to run out the base of the pot. Put in clamshelled, clear salad containers, in indirect light, and come back in 6 - 10 weeks. That amount of moisture is perfect to keep the whole system going - condensing on the top,dripping down the sides.

So, here we have some clematis, snug in their perlite, w/o the lid, but just imagine another, identical container flipped on top....

 photo IMG_0657.jpg

and the result: happily rooted clematis cuttings, after 10 or so weeks.

 photo IMG_0658.jpg

I potted these cuttings up and left them in the greenhouse, and have already made cuttings from their new growth this year.

So, re propagating, pure perlite is 'da bomb'.


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

Absolutely David 52;
I use perlite for rooting cuttings as well!

could probably kiln fire some red lava(to sterilize it) and it would work even better!

Nico


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RE: Perlite or Vermiculite?

David,
Thanks for the pictures of your success...Love seeing them..The pure perlite has worked well for me for quite a few cuttings and others I use my standard mix...Congrats on the successful babies,, now where you going to put them??? LOL

Nico,
I am still not sure on the bio char.Not gardening in ground it has not worked quite in the same way as it is said to..Here in Montana it is available from a company in the Bitteroot over 20lbs goes at 75 cents a lb, which is pretty decent.and a several hour drive ,,LOL,,,.I have not noticed any major changes in 2 years of using a biochar product compared to any of my other container mixes at this time..It has raised my alkaline levels a bit which would be a real problem if it was in my soil.In containers of soil I mix myself I can adjust easily enough for it..That said my concern and reason for not recommending it to others at this point is..Montana gardens generally are high alkaline to begin with...Not sure about other rocky mountain states..I tend to tell people if they want to try it look for lack of nutrient signs and adjust.My containers are being remixed this year with more compost which along with the 2 years of break down I hope not to have to deal with correcting nutrients as often..As for the red Lava I use it for a few things but in hundreds of planters and straw bale gardening it has not been at the top of my list..
Mary


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