Perlite or vermiculite: which is better for plants

There is a difference between perlite and vermiculite, despite the fact that both materials play the same role in crop production. Before using them, you need to familiarize yourself with the parameters. This will determine how high-quality soil mixture can be prepared for plants.

What is "perlite" and "vermiculite"

Outwardly, both materials resemble pebbles of different colors and fractions. Perlite and vermiculite are used in construction. However, the material of the fine fraction is in demand in crop production. It is added to the soil to prepare a soil mixture with the desired parameters.

Fine fractions of perlite and vermiculite are used to give the soil certain parameters

Perlite with vermiculite is a natural material. They are added to the soil to improve air exchange. The soil cakes less, the friability increases, which makes it possible for the roots of the plant to receive more oxygen.

Perlite, just like vermiculite, has excellent hygroscopic properties. Both materials are capable of absorbing and releasing water, but with different intensities. Plants benefit from this too. With rare watering in hot weather, the roots do not dry out.

Important! Perlite is similar to vermiculite in the first indications of its purpose, but both materials are very different from each other.

Description, composition and origin of perlite

By origin, perlite is a volcanic glass. Over the years, he succumbed to the effects of water. As a result, fractions resembling crystalline hydrate were obtained. They learned to make expanded perlite from volcanic rock. Since water reduces the softening point of the glass, hardened foam is obtained from it. This is achieved by crushing perlite and heating to a temperature of 1100 aboutC. Rapidly expanding water bursts out of the plastic incandescent mass, increasing its initial volume up to 20 times due to small air bubbles. The porosity of expanded pearlite reaches 90%.

Perlite is easily recognizable by white or gray granules

Perlite, ready to use, is a fine granule. The color is white or gray, with different light shades. Since perlite is glass, it is hard but brittle. Expanded perlite crystals can be ground into powder with your fingers.

Important! When rubbing crystals of expanded perlite with your fingers, you can easily cut yourself, since glass chips are sharp and highly abrasive.

Perlite is produced in different brands. The material differs in the size of fractions, which is why it is used in different areas:

  1. Ordinary construction perlite (VPP) is produced in different grades with a fraction size of 0.16-5 mm. This category includes construction crushed stone. The size of the fractions reaches 5-20 mm.

    The density of crystals varies from 75 to 200 kg / m3

  2. Agroperlite (VPK) is also a type of building material. The size of the standard fraction ranges from 1.25 to 5 mm. Some manufacturers produce agroperlite according to their own specifications. For example, the grain size of Zh-15 grade material varies from 0.63 to 5 mm. Maximum density - 160 kg / m3.

    The difference between agroperlite is large grain

  3. Perlite powder (VPP) has a particle size of up to 0.16 mm.

    Use the material in the form of powder in the manufacture of filters

Agroperlite is a chemically neutral substance. The pH value is 7 units. The porous free-flowing crumb does not contain nutrients and salts for the plant. The material is not subject to chemical and biological degradation. The crumb is not damaged by rodents and all types of insects. The water absorption property exceeds 400% compared to its own weight.

Description, composition and origin of vermiculite

The main difference between perlite and vermiculite is their origin. If the basis of the first substance is volcanic glass, then for the second material it is hydromica. In composition, it is usually magnesium-ferruginous, but there are still many additional minerals. Vermiculite has in common with perlite the content of water combined with crystalline hydrates.

Vermiculite production technology is a little complicated. However, in the final stage, the swelling of mica is made at a temperature of about 880 aboutC. The structure of the basic substance similarly acquires porosity due to the escaping boiling water. However, the volume of destroyed mica increases up to a maximum of 20 times.

The basis of vermiculite is hydromica, and the material is recognized by its black, yellow, green color with different shades

Hydromica is a natural material. Since water and wind have been exposed for many years, erosion has destroyed all soluble compounds. However, microelements in vermiculite appear after the destruction of crystalline mica hydrates.

Important! The formation of a large amount of microelements in vermiculite turns the crumb into a useful fertilizer for plants, which stimulates their growth.

It is important to take into account the fact that the composition of trace elements in different brands of vermiculite is very different. It depends on the territory in which the raw material is mined - mica. For example, in one vermiculite, iron may be completely absent, but a lot of chromium and copper are present. Other material, on the contrary, is rich in iron. When buying vermiculite for certain plants, you need to find out information about the composition of minerals in the accompanying documents.

Vermiculite retains the properties of the original material. The crumb does not have abrasiveness, is slightly elastic, the shape is similar to elongated crystals. The color is found in black, yellow, green with different shades, for example, brown. The density indicator varies from 65 to 130 kg. The minimum porosity is 65%, and the maximum is 90%. Vermiculite has an acidity index similar to that of perlite: the average PH is 7 units.

Vermiculite does not react with many acids and alkalis. The water absorption rate reaches 500% of its own weight. Like perlite, vermiculite is not subject to chemical and biological degradation, it is uninteresting to rodents and all types of insects. Vermiculite is produced with a fraction size of 0.1 to 20 mm. In agriculture, for growing plants, agrovermiculite is used, which differs in the size of fractions from 0.8 to 5 mm.

What is perlite and vermiculite for?

Both substances belong to the fourth hazard class, that is, they are of low hazard. The scope of vermiculite and its counterpart, perlite, is not limited. The only exception is technology for which dust is unacceptable. In horticulture and horticulture, crumb is used to loosen the soil, improve its structure. Vermiculite is often used in conjunction with perlite. The crumb regulates the moisture and oxygen level in the soil. It can be used as a mulch, as well as a sorbent for mineral and organic fertilizers.

Vermiculite is a good mulch

Due to their neutral acidity, vermiculite and perlite reduce soil PH and slow down the salting process. Due to the good absorption of water in wet areas, the crumb prevents the formation of waterlogging. In the beds, moisture-loving weeds and moss do not germinate.

Advice! If vermiculite is poured into the ground together with perlite when arranging a lawn, you can not worry about it drying out in hot summer and waterlogging with the arrival of prolonged rains.

It is important to determine what is better for agroperlite or vermiculite when using them with a sorbent with fertilizers. Both materials absorb water well, and with it dissolved dressings. When the soil begins to dry out, the crumb gives off moisture to the plant roots, and with it the accumulated fertilizer. However, agrovermiculitis wins in this regard.

Perlite, just like vermiculite, has a low thermal conductivity. The crumb protects the roots of plants from hypothermia and overheating in the sun. A mixture of perlite with vermiculite is useful for early planting of seedlings, soil mulching.

Advice! It is convenient to germinate cuttings in a mixture of perlite and vermiculite. The possibility is excluded that they will get wet from excess moisture.

Agroperlite is often used in its pure form. It is in demand for hydroponics. Vermiculite is expensive. It is rarely used in its pure form. Most often, vermiculite is mixed with perlite, resulting in a mixture that is affordable and quality indicators.

Advantages and disadvantages of perlite and vermiculite

Each of the materials reviewed has its own pros and cons. In order to more accurately determine which perlite or vermiculite is better for plants, these nuances need to be considered.

Perlite pluses:

  1. It absorbs water from the depths of the soil through capillaries, directs it to the surface layers of the soil. The property allows you to use crumb for wick irrigation.
  2. Distributes water evenly over the ground.
  3. The transparent crumb transmits light, which makes it possible to use it for filling light-sensitive seeds during their germination.
  4. Perlite improves soil aeration.
  5. The material is affordable, suitable for backfilling a large area.


  1. Soil with agroperlite requires frequent watering. Fertilizers are washed out faster from this.
  2. Pure crumb is not suitable for plants that like to grow in slightly acidic soil mixtures.
  3. The material is not used as fertilizer due to poor absorption of nutrients.
  4. During mechanical processing of the soil, glass granules are destroyed after five years.
  5. The abrasive structure of the granules can damage the root system of plants.
  6. Due to the fragility of the granules, a large amount of dust is generated.

When processing the soil, perlite granules are destroyed

To further clarify how vermiculite differs from perlite in horticulture, it is worth considering all sides of the second material.

Pros of vermiculite:

  1. Granules retain moisture for a long time along with the nutrients of the fertilizers applied. Due to this property, the frequency of watering is reduced.
  2. During drought, the crumb absorbs moisture from the atmosphere. Plants will be saved if they are not watered on time.
  3. The material participates well in ion exchange, prevents the accumulation of nitrates in the soil.
  4. Improves soil aeration, slows down its salinity up to 8%.
  5. Does not have the property of caking after wintering and prolonged rains.
  6. The absence of abrasiveness eliminates the possibility of root damage.


  1. The cost in comparison with agroperlite is four times higher.
  2. It is not recommended to use clean crumbs on moist soils in a warm region. Microscopic green algae arise in its pores.
  3. Working with dry material is dangerous for humans. The dust is harmful to the respiratory tract. In terms of danger, it can be compared to asbestos.

Knowing all the sides, it is easier to determine the difference between vermiculite and agroperlite, to choose the best material for work.

What is the difference between perlite and vermiculite

Continuing with the comparison, it is worth considering separately the main parameters of the materials. What they have in common is that both types of crumbs are used in crop production to loosen the soil.

Of all the indicators, the common one is the use of both types of bulk materials for loosening the soil

What is the difference between agroperlite and vermiculite in composition

The first crystals are based on volcanic glass. Agroperlite is completely neutral. The second crystals are based on mica. In addition, after swelling, agrovermiculite is obtained with the content of a mineral complex.

How perlite differs from vermiculite in appearance

Glass crystals of agroperlite have a light color, sharp edges, and crumble when squeezed with fingers. Agrovermiculite has dark shades, plastic, not sharp to the touch.

What is the difference between agroperlite and vermiculite for use?

Crystals of the first type slowly absorb moisture, but release faster. It is advisable to use them when the soil needs to be watered more often. Crystals of the second type absorb moisture faster, but release more slowly. Vermiculite is best applied as an additive to the soil, if necessary, to reduce the intensity of irrigation of crops.

What is the difference between perlite and vermiculite in terms of effects on soil and plants

The first material consists of glass crystals that can injure plant roots. After winter and rains, they pack. Agrovermiculite is safe for roots, does not shrink the soil, and is better suited for rooting cuttings.

What is better for plants perlite or vermiculite

Both types of material are used in crop production. It is impossible to determine which one is better or worse, since each plant has its own needs.

For the arrangement of drainage, it is optimal to choose coarse fractions

If you delve deeper into the question, then the following answer will be correct:

  1. Agroperlite is best used for hydroponics and large land plots that are often watered and fertilized.
  2. Agrovermiculite is optimal for arranging small areas, for example, greenhouse beds. It is in demand when rooting cuttings, growing indoor flowers.

Combined mixtures give the best results. They are most often used in plant growing. They may have additional additives from peat, sand, fertilizers.

How to properly use vermiculite and perlite for plant benefits

Both materials complement each other perfectly. Most often they are mixed together. Take equal parts of 15%. The resulting drainage mixture in the total substrate should contain up to 30%.

A mixture of equal parts of agroperlite and agrovermiculite should contain up to 30% in the total mass of the prepared substrate

In a pure mixture of two types of crumb and peat, some varieties of flowers are grown. For drought-resistant indoor plants, such as cacti, the substrate is prepared with a lower content of agrovermiculite.

For hydroponics, a mixture is likewise the best option. In addition, it is good to store flower bulbs in the crumb in winter.


The difference between perlite and vermiculite in origin and properties is large. However, both materials have one purpose - to loosen the soil, improve its quality. To get the best results, you need to know what to use and where.

Watch the video: Perlite Vs. Vermiculite. Uses, Differences, Pros u0026 Cons. When to Use and When to Avoid (September 2021).