Perfect Planting with the Power of Perlite
Whether you’re a home gardener, a commercial grower, a nursery operator, or anyone else that wants the absolute strongest, healthiest plants for their application, you know that health begins in the soil. In fact, poor plant growth and other plant health issues in everything from turf grass to vegetables can be caused by soil problems, including:
- Poorly drained soils caused by soil compaction or heavy clays
- Soil erosion and low nutrient levels
- Soil erosion and low nutrient levels
- Low moisture levels
- Root rot from excess moisture
Fortunately, just by adding perlite to your potting soil, you can improve drainage, prevent soil compaction, and provide adequate aeration for delicate root systems. In addition, perlite additives such as Sil-Ponix can help soils self-regulate moisture, both holding and releasing water to plant roots as conditions change.
What Else Makes Perlite the Perfect Growing Medium for Plants?
Because perlite is a naturally occurring volcanic rock, it is the perfect growing medium for many horticultural applications. Many potting mixes are formulated with polystyrene (Styrofoam) beads that resemble perlite but are markedly different. While perlite is natural, inert, and environmentally sound, Styrofoam is man-made and often petroleum based. The manufacturing process releases huge amounts of ozone into the atmosphere and, when exposed to sunlight, Styrofoam releases harmful toxins into the soils. It decomposes so slowly that is it not considered biodegradable. On the other hand, the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) lists perlite as an acceptable mineral component of horticultural soils.
Want to make sure your potting soil is amended with perlite? Simply pinch the white particles in the mix with your fingers. If they remain spongy, they are styrene. If you can crush them, they are perlite.
Get Growing with Perlite
Perlite comes in a variety of grades from fine to medium to coarse, each with a different ability to hold and release water. Coarse grades release water more quickly and are often used to offset soil compaction for improved drainage and root aeration. Dryer soils and environments may benefit more from finer grades of perlite that will hold more water and release it more slowly. The important thing to remember is that using perlite in soils helps plants expend less energy retrieving water from soils so they can put more energy into developing their roots, leaves, and fruit.
Overall, the type and amount of perlite you’ll use in your perlite soil mix will depend on what you are growing. For example, you can start seedlings in a mixture of half peat and half perlite. To root cuttings, you can use this same mixture or even root them in 100% perlite. To create an optimized potting mix for indoor and outdoor potted plants, mix one-third perlite with two-thirds organic potting soil. For established garden beds, spread a two-inch layer of perlite over the top of the soil and then mix it into the top six to twelve inches of soil using whatever garden tool works best.
For trees and shrubs, consider working closely with your landscape manager or plant supplier to pinpoint the right mix of perlite, soil, and peat, since the requirement for each plant may be quite specific.
Perlite and Nutrients
Perlite is a naturally occurring processed volcanic rock with no additives, so there are no nutrients present in the perlite itself. However, when you add liquid nutrients to soil that has been conditioned with perlite, it will absorb the nutrients along with the water. As conditions dictate, the perlite will release the nutrients slowly to the plants’ root systems to help avoid shock and manage water and nutrients better.
Perlite and Permanence
In the world of horticulture, maintenance of growing conditions is an ongoing battle. Perlite relieves some of the pressure on growers by offering a permanent soil amendment solution. Since perlite is a naturally occurring volcanic rock that has been mined, crushed, and processed at high temperatures, it remains completely inert, lightweight, and sterile. Since there is no organic material in perlite, it does not decompose. As a permanent soil amendment, it permanently changes the texture of the soil to make it a better growing medium for plants. Other than a breakdown in size due to crushing, perlite does not rot or decompose over time and does not require any replacement after initial addition into your soil.
Perlite and Hydroponic Growing
As a hydroponic growing medium, perlite really shines. It doesn’t decompose or transfer disease; it offers a neutral pH that is perfect for nutrient absorption and doesn’t require chemical adjusting of your growing system, and the pore structure within perlite helps it to make oxygen more easily available for uptake by root systems.
Perlite can be reused after being shaken off roots and rinsed, and can even be further sterilized after use when necessary by using a hydrogen peroxide solution. However, because it is inorganic, it requires no sterilization before initial use, unlike many other soilless media choices.
Ready to Supercharge Your Soil?
Whether you are a home gardener or you are interested in horticultural perlite for sales or commercial use, our Sil-Ponix product is perfect for every growing application from hydroponic crops and indoor gardens to lawns, green roofs, raised, beds, and container gardening. Less expensive than other alternatives and easy to set up and maintain, Sil-Ponix provides a safe and easy way to handle amendment for soils that will promote root growth, hold moisture and nutrients, and aerate and drain soils for optimal plant growth and vigor.
This year, supercharge your garden soil by adding Sil-Ponix for consistently high yields without all the fuss and maintenance.