The Characteristics and Uses of Perlite

Perlite not only facilitates the drainage of plants, but also enhances them and keeps them fresh. How do you use this substrate, though? Are there any contraindications? Continue reading to learn all about it!
The Characteristics and Uses of Perlite

Last update: 19 August, 2021

Have you heard about the uses of perlite substrate for plants?

Having plants at home has many positive health benefits. In fact, according to a publication in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, plants help reduce stress and promote feelings of peace and comfort. As if that wasn’t enough, they improve any spaces and clean the air.

Do you already enjoy the advantages of having plants at home?

If so, keep reading and learn more about perlite. Its main characteristic is its ability to drain water, improve aeration, and embellish pots. However, there’s more about its uses below!

What is perlite?

Perlite is a natural mineral, classified as volcanic glass.  About 5% of its composition is water, which allows it to expand when subjected to high temperatures. People have been using it in gardening for many years. This is because it doesn’t alter the balance of the soil, it’s light, and it helps prevent pests and diseases.

As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also inexpensive and you can purchase it in almost any specialized gardening store. In general, it’s best for plants that are easily harmed by excess humidity, such as cacti or aloe vera.

Among other things, it’s easy to mix with other organic components that provide nutrients to plants, such as rice husks, coconut fiber, and peat moss.

A person with a handful of dirt mixed with perlite.
You can mix perlite with other organic components for plant maintenance.

The advantages of perlite for plants

The main benefit of perlite is it facilitates pot drainage and, in turn, soil oxygenation. However, there are many other advantages beyond it, such as:

  • It absorbs and retains water so the plant can use it later.
  • It doesn’t interfere with plant and soil nutrients, as it has a neutral pH.
  • In addition, it’s light and non-flammable.
  • Also, it improves the consistency of dense soils.
  • Some believe it has antifungal and pesticide properties.

Some disadvantages of using perlite in plants

Perlite isn’t suitable for all types of plants. In fact, it might have negative consequences under certain conditions. Therefore, consider the following before using it in your garden or indoor pots:

  • It can prevent the healthy root development of plants in low temperatures
  • It’s an inert substrate so it doesn’t provide nutrients and you must add these through fertilizers and other organic materials
  • It increases the need for irrigation, as water drains more easily and there’s a greater risk of dehydration.

Uses of perlite

It’s often suggested to mix perlite with other nutritional substrates, such as worm castings, coconut fiber, peat moss, among other varieties. This increases its potential to retain and drain liquid and facilitates nutrition.

However, don’t overdo it when using peat and perlite. The combination can cause root asphyxia during watering if you’re not careful.

In addition, a plant in dense soil requires a mixture of soil and perlite to soften it and provide better drainage. You also have the possibility of watering this material above the soil to protect the roots from the sun during hot temperatures.

The plants that most benefit from this material are succulents like aloe vera, cacti, and also bonsai, among others. Just add a little water to both the soil and the perlite when mixing it.

A purplish plant.
Perlite helps protect plants from the impact of the sun’s rays, especially during the summer.

The uses of perlite: A complement to take care of your plants

This element is easy to find on the market and, above all, quite inexpensive. Its main function is to improve the appearance of pots and garden soils. It also facilitates drainage and keeps plants cool during hot weather. In addition, its neutral pH doesn’t interfere with soil nutrients.

Depending on the type of plant, you might want to mix it with organic substrates to enhance its benefits. However, pay attention during the winter seasons, as it can interfere with the normal development of the roots.

You’ve got to check it out!

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