WHAT ABOUT VERMICULITE AND PERLITE FOR SOILS

August44

Omono
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Could you more experienced folks chime in here about using these two products pls. I know most don't like the perlite because it gets very lite and will blow off the top of pots etc, and I know nothing about the vermiculite. They are both out there and pretty inexpensive. Maybe one of you knows the properties ( water retention etc) and value for bonsai soil amendments. Help always appreciated. Thank you!
 

Ohmy222

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It is fine for just growing stuff. Biggest issues are they are light and will blow away or rise to the top when watered. Those are problematic in a shallow container. They probably hold more moisture than a standard bonsai mix so wouldn’t work as well with conifers. Cosmetically though, it looks bad to me as perlite is very white.
 

HorseloverFat

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I'm less experienced than most folk. But have used both of these AS WELL as a mixture of them both, for horticultural reasons, ESPECIALLY outside of bonsai.

I'm pretty familiar with their properties and how they work together.

But we'll let a more experienced person fill in those gaps more efficiently.

🤓
 

Paradox

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There is a reason they are not used instead of lava, akadama and pumice. Otherwise, they would be used instead if that "expensive dirt" from Japan.

The solution to the expensive dirt problem is to have less trees that you can afford to care for properly rather than too many in poor health because you cant.
 

Arnold

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Perlite is very similar to Pumice but more light and more porous, Vermiculite is interesting but holds too much water.. you could use it for prebonsai but in bonsai pots not very useful
 

Lorax7

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I’m currently experimenting with using perlite for the bottom drainage layer in a couple of pond baskets, with the usual APL layered on top of it. Guess I’ll find out in a couple of years how that works out.

Vermiculite just has too small a particle size to be usable for anything other than shohin (maybe). Even with shohin I wouldn’t bother. You don’t need very much expensive Japanese dirt for a shohin anyway, so there’s not much point in trying to pinch pennies there.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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If I’m not mistaken I’ve seen that some folks in the UK use perlite in their media.

Here’s the safety data sheets on both. “Nuisance Dust” another name for this dust can be nasty. For good general precautions I’d use a N95 mask for sure if working with these materials unless it was only a small quantity. Not nice to inhale silica based minerals.

Vermiculite SDS - As started before used to keep moisture in soil, holds water and nutrients

Perlite SDS - used to promote drainage and loosen soil

Here’s a side by side summary of the two minerals
Characteristics of Perlite vs Vermiculite. Perlite. Vermiculite
Ideal for seed starting or blending into potting mixesYesYes
Approved for organic gardeningYesYes
Loosens heavy, compacted soilBestGood
Provides drainageBestGood
Retains moisture and nutrientsGoodBest
pH level7.0 to 7.57.0 to 7.5
Decomposes in soilNoNo

cheers
DSD sends
 

Firstflush

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You can get away with perlite/vermiculite not floating or blowing away by not using it in the top inch of your mix.
They do make perlite coarser grained for those of you stating it is too smal. Verm is too expensive IMHO.

For those interested and whatever your opinion is of him, Nigel Saunders of The Bonsai Zone, I believe uses almost exclusively perlite and turface. Some times he adds bark.
 

RKatzin

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I once acquired several Japanese Maples and having nothing else on hand except a big bag of perlite I potted them up in that, temporarily. They stayed in those pots for about seven years and grew up just fine. I just don't like it. It tastes funny and lacks the crunch of pumice.
 

Gabler

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I’ve found them to be excellent for large collected trees planted in big grow-out containers. Depending on the species, I mix anywhere from 50% to 75% perlite with equal parts peat and vermiculite. The peat and vermiculite are fine and water-retentive, and the weight of the water helps hold the soil in place. For those complaining about wind blowing the perlite away, jusy dress your soil surface with sphagnum moss.
 

Firstflush

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I once acquired several Japanese Maples and having nothing else on hand except a big bag of perlite I potted them up in that, temporarily. They stayed in those pots for about seven years and grew up just fine. I just don't like it. It tastes funny and lacks the crunch of pumice.
THIS is awesome!
 

Tums

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I've been told that Perlite contains asbestos. Don't breathe the dust!
No asbestos, but the dust will still shred your lungs! I usually hose it down to help wash the dust and fines out.
 

ghues

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As I’ve grown older and lost the strength I once had.....I have used shifted perlite (<1/16th and >1/4” out, along with SeaSoil and Pumice) in the lower layers on all my larger trees......with decent results.
 

August44

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As I’ve grown older and lost the strength I once had.....I have used shifted perlite (<1/16th and >1/4” out, along with SeaSoil and Pumice) in the lower layers on all my larger trees......with decent results.
"I have used shifted perlite (<1/16th and >1/4” out, along with SeaSoil and Pumice) in the lower layers..."Could you explain this please? also, what is "sea soil"? Thanks!
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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Vermiculite breaks down rapidly into silvery shiny flakes when it's not mixed in potting soil or other organic soils, so using it in something airy like bonsai soils, would not be my first, second, third or fourth choice.
Perlite is cool, but super light weight. Wind can blow all surface perlite from a pot with a light gust.
Perlite is in part expanded glass, and will seriously fuck up your lungs if inhaled. Use it wet only.
 

August44

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Thanks all for all the replies! I always appreciate the help. I don't think I will use either of those products now that I understand to pros and cons better. I asked because they are easy to obtain locally. I have to travel to get pumice, but probably get a safer and better product at the same time.
 
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