We have all seen those small white particles in soil mixes…..
but what are they? What do they do? Are they just for show?
Perlite are those tiny particles and they work to block the soil from becoming compacted. By doing this perlite acts as an aid to maintaining an adequate air flow (oxygenating the soil) for the produce. This in turn will improve any plant aerobic respiration. Perlite is right for your growing operation, to find out why it is best to dig (pun intended) a bit deeper into just what it is and what it does.
What is perlite?
Perlite naturally occurs as a bi-product to active volcano’s and is made from the heat hitting the sand. Because of this Perlite then forms glass and expands rapidly, the useful parts are then taken and superheated in a kiln until it expands like popcorn.
This further expansion causes it to be very lightweight and gives it an air holding capacity. These crevices also attract nutrient-rich water in the perlite particles and this capillary feature is so crucial to the plant as it will provide moisture and oxygen to your plant.
Perlite is non-fibrous, which means it safe for use. However, it can contain dust particles, so it is best to work with it moist to prevent the inhalation of these particles.
Why should I use it?
Like we said above Perlite is very helpful in improving anaerobic conditions of the soil especially on regular soil. Other soils that can benefit from perlite are peat and coco which are quite heavy and easily compactable.
If the soil is to compacted then the air pores shrink, reducing oxygen flow and water to the plant. This then causes the plant to loose vigour and produce. Another issue with compacted soil is the roots find it harder to grow and expand, decreasing the net gain of nutrients to the plant from soil and water.
So for systems that are struggling for oxygen, perlite is the best option. Its reusable, it’s in expensive and it’s pH neutral so no complicated pH solutions to balance.
When used in the proper ratio perlite will fix the issues listed above. Perlite placed on the surface of the grow media will reduce moisture from the surface and eliminate mold and moss.