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Are Vermiculite and Perlite the Same?

By drdawg
January 25, 2015

It seems that many people believe that vermiculite and perlite are similar products used for similar purposes. This is not true.

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Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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Dutchlady1
Jan 24, 2015 6:47 PM CST
Great to have this explained so clearly. Thumbs up
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 24, 2015 6:54 PM CST
Thank You! Hetty.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
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Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
Jan 24, 2015 7:19 PM CST
I was always confused between the two, buying it online (which I need to do here) made it more important that I figure it out. One of the things I need to know about any soil additive is whether it floats or not, many of my potted plants are pond plants and it is a major pain to have a bunch of stuff floating out of the pots. Perlite floats - it will work its way out of the deepest pot. Vermiculite doesn't float if it is well soaked before putting in the pond. Mostly I just remember that the white stuff floats, the beige not so much.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Jan 24, 2015 7:57 PM CST
Thanks for a thoughtful comparison of these two.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jan 24, 2015 8:16 PM CST
drdawg, that was a fantastic article. Great explanation. Clearly explained. Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 24, 2015 9:08 PM CST
Jonna, I don't think I would ever use perlite under water. Heck, 90% of what I use for my tropical plants (orchids in particular) would not be suitable in a situation as you describe. Why would you want to even use perlite or vermiculite under water?
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Marilyn
Northern KY (Zone 6a)
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Marilyn
Jan 25, 2015 1:25 AM CST
Dutchlady1 said:Great to have this explained so clearly. Thumbs up


I agree Thumbs up
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Name: Jean
Fleming Island, FL (Zone 9a)
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qwilter
Jan 25, 2015 4:59 AM CST
Ken - great article. I knew which did which but never the "why". Not even 6AM & I learned something today
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Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
Jan 25, 2015 6:26 AM CST
Really enjoyed reading the difference between the two. I will have to star this. Six months from now I will be questioning which did what Smiling Thank you for explaining why vermiculite is good for seed starting and perlite is good for cuttings. Thumbs up
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 25, 2015 6:54 AM CST
I tip my hat to you.

Thanks to all of you for your nice comments.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
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MaryE
Jan 25, 2015 9:36 AM CST
Thanks you for the clear explanation! I wish the employees at the garden centers knew as much.
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 25, 2015 9:43 AM CST
They only sell them, Mary, not grow them. Whistling

I tip my hat to you. for your kind comments.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Jane
Tobyhanna, PA (Zone 5a)
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PAgirl63
Jan 25, 2015 1:53 PM CST

Wonderful article. I've heard of both, but really didn't know much about them. To me, perlite looks like little pieces of stryofoam. Big Grin
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 25, 2015 2:37 PM CST
It is white and is very light, but it is hard rather than soft. Perlite is a natural, though heated, material. Styrofoam is completely man-made, expanded polystyrene, a plastic. Styrofoam will quickly make its way to the surface if used in potting soil (its 98% air), and though perlite can do the same, it doesn't do it rapidly, particularly if it is wetted before being incorporated into the soil. Some commercial growers (and I guess we hobbyists as well) might use Styrofoam in their orchid media, and the large, fir, pine, or cypress chunks keep the Styrofoam in place.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
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extranjera
Jan 25, 2015 4:30 PM CST
Ken, I am always using old potting soil mainly because I'm cheap I guess. What I discovered the hard way is that I can use it if it has vermiculite in it but not if it has perlite. I've found my pond too many times with a layer of white floating perlite that worked its way out of the soil. It is a pain to scoop it out with a strainer, but that's the only way I've found to get it out of the pond.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jan 25, 2015 4:55 PM CST
Yep, I would expect that. When I lived on the Mississippi Gulf coast I had a really wonderful koi pond, waterfall and all. It was next to my swimming pool deck and the whole area was pretty tropical (though it wasn't even a sub-tropical area. I just used soil, plain and simple garden soil in my pots that grew water-plants.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

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