Perlite and Vermiculite in a Soilless Mix


If you could take better control of your plants’ growing environment, would you? When you use a soilless mix instead of soil for growing, you come close to having full control of your plants’ success.

Soilless Mixes

As the name suggests, a soilless mix, or a “substrate” mix, is a growing media that is not made with soil (field, mineral, top, grow, urban, garden, and dirt). Instead, plants are grown in a variety of organic and inorganic materials. Using these materials, rather than soil, allows plants to grow healthier without the threat of soil-borne diseases, bacteria, and fungi. Plus, they are also less likely to be bothered by pests.

The nomenclature of soilless mixes is extensive and sometimes confusing, but according to Dr. Brian Jackson, Director of Horticultural Substrates Laboratory, North Carolina State University, “Substrate” is the most common term to describe the below:

  • Growing Media
  • Rooting Media
  • Growing Medium
  • Potting Mix
  • Soilless Mixes
  • Potting Soil
  • Hyrdo (ponics)

Each option for a soilless mix offers its own benefits. Some are particularly efficient at retaining minerals, some help with aerating, and others retain water. Two popular choices are perlite and vermiculite.


Perlite is formed by molten (magmatic) rock, also known as volcanic glass. When it is heated rapidly in industrial furnaces, the volcanic glass softens, causing the entrapped water molecules to turn to steam and expand the perlite particles—much like popcorn. Expanded perlite is renowned in the horticulture industry for being:

  • Lightweight for easy mixing with other mediums
  • Improved aeration
  • Free of organic contaminants
  • Pest-proof


Vermiculite is an efficient growing aid often used in the horticulture industry. It is a hydrated magnesium aluminum sheet silicate mineral closely related to mica. It is a popular choice for horticulturists because it acts as a magnet for nutrients and slowly re-releases them back into the soil, adding to the growing cycle. Horticultural Vermiculite benefits include:

  • Improved aeration
  • Moisture retention
  • Promotes faster root growth
  • Retains nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium
  • Lightweight for easy mixing with other mediums

Contact Us for a Free Sample.

Contact the perlite and vermiculite experts at Dicalite Management Group get your free sample and explore your options for soilless mixes. Call us today at 866-728-3303 to get started.

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