We all know what nursery soil looks like - brown dirt, maybe some bark and/or fertilizer balls, and the most defining feature that separates it from regular dirt - speckles of those white things….
What are those white things in the soil anyway?
It’s PERLITE!! WOO!
......…..What is perlite?
Perlite is made from some of the coolest material on earth - expanded volcanic glass. Being a material of this nature, it is very porous, which means it will help retain water in the soil. However, it also improves drainage by adding space between the dirt for the water to flow.
It not only improves drainage, but it also improves aeration of the soil and helps keep the soil from compacting! This allows oxygen to get to the roots of the plants, helping them avoid suffocating. Perlite is imperative to have when potting a plant that needs good drainage such as succulents, dracaenas, any epiphytic plants and plants very sensitive to moist soil.
Benefits of perlite in soil:
- Improved drainage
- Improved aeration
- Better prevention of root rot
- Keeps soil loose for roots to move around
Propagating with Perlite
You can actually use perlite for propagating plants! Simply pour them into a small pot with drainage holes, moisten them up, and stick the bare part of the stem into the perlite. Increase humidity by adding a top, or a tied bag, to the plant and let them chill in their new home for a few weeks. After a few weeks you should have roots starting to protrude from the stem! It is best to wait until the roots are about 1 inch long before potting!
You can propagate with a mix of 1:1 peat moss and perlite as well!
Tip: Perlite is very dusty so be careful of your eyes and mouth when working with it!
Tip 2: Miracle Gro perlite is cheap, but organic perlite is the best way to go!
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