Three Reasons Horticultural Soil Medias Are on the Rise

And What Options Are Popular

Horticultural Soil Medias

The manufacturers and soil mixers of horticultural soil medias and mixes have recently seen an increase in interest and sales. It’s not just horticulturists and agronomists causing the uptick in demand—recreational gardeners seem to have increased needs, too. Dicalite Management Group provides soil and soilless substrates across our three mineral offerings—diatomaceous earth, perlite, and vermiculite—so today we are going to explore the cause of this increased interest and why each mineral is beneficial.

Why Horticultural Soil Media is seeing Increased Demand

1. A Renewed Focus on Self-Sufficiency

With the recent and ongoing unforeseen world events, individuals have taken a greater interest in being self-sufficient, and there is a rise in home gardening interest. Potting mix providers and distributors have seen an increase in demand attributed to that increased interest. Many home growers choose pre-mixed potting mixes over standard soil or compost because they are already filled with substrates that can aid and help to accelerate root growth.

Peat moss is a popular soil amendment that has an acidic pH, which is great for plants that like acidic soil. It can absorb large amounts of water to provide a steady water supply to your seedling’s roots. While helpful for potting mixes, it is not recommended to be used alone, so it is often paired with perlite and vermiculite.

Peat and Perlite Potting Mix: Perlite and peat moss make a great pair. Perlite allows for proper draining to ensure water and airflow around your seeding roots. Generally, an 80% peat inclusion to 20% perlite is found in most mixes.

Peat and Vermiculite Potting Mix: This duo is used to increase the water and air availability to plant roots. Generally, one-part peat moss to two-part vermiculite ratio is recommended.

2. Growing Market for Industrial Hemp

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the land planted with hemp quadrupled from 2018 to 2019. It is even more than the growth rate of the maple sap, the second-fastest crop growth! A mixture of perlite with peat moss and coco coir—both excellent water-retention horticultural soil media substrates—can help increase hemp root mass and overall yield.

While many plants benefit from the addition of perlite, cannabis plants, in particular, show favor to soil media mixes with perlite. The grape-like bubbles in the perlite encourage drainage and ensure oxygen is provided right to the plant roots. In this oxygenated environment, the soil can drain faster, giving you the opportunity to feed your plant more fresh, essential nutrients. For cannabis growing, a medium-sized ore is the most effective because they are sturdy and reliable. To use, simply mix two-parts soil to one-part perlite with your preference of coco coir or peat moss for increased drainage and oxygen at the root zone.

3. Growers Looking for Nex-Gen Horticultural Soil Medias

Growers of high-value crops like cannabis, grapes, almonds, cocoa, and coffee are looking for next-generation horticultural soil media to address problems that arise in the growing cycle. Many growers turn to diatomaceous earth to mitigate unwelcomed plant stressors. Diatomaceous Earth is natural and safe for use in potting mixes.

Dicalite Management Group‘s Mineral Horticultural Soil Media Options

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a biologically generated form of silica. The silica content of diatomaceous earth is absorbed into plant tissue and helps improve plant structure and resistance to abiotic stressors. The use of diatomaceous earth as a soil conditioner also allows for more efficient use of fertilizer and reduces the impact that fertilizer has on the environment through leaching. It has an abundance of benefits, including:

  • Increased plant health
  • Greater yield
  • Reduced abiotic plant stress


Perlite helps break up compacted soil, allowing for better water retention, making it useful for professional growers and hobbyists alike. Perlite is formed by molten rock, also known as volcanic glass, and is one of nature’s most versatile and efficient minerals. It is a lightweight, non-organic soil conditioner that provides a number of important benefits, including:

  • Improved aeration
  • No expiration date
  • Lightweight
  • Water retention
  • Prevents the need for other additives and chemicals

Dicaperl’s Aero-Soil Horticultural Perlite: This perlite is an easy-to-use, lightweight, sterile soil conditioner that is beneficial for commercial growers, landscapers, and home gardeners. It is used in potted plants, for stadium and golf course turf, lawns, shrubs and trees, bulb and tuber storage, cannabis mixes, and hydroponic growing.


Vermiculite is an efficient growing aid often used in the horticulture industry. This hydrated magnesium aluminum sheet silicate mineral is closely related to mica and forms particles that are lightweight and highly absorbent when exposed to heat. It is a popular choice for horticulturists because it acts as a sponge for nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It slowly releases these valuable nutrients back into the soil. Benefits of vermiculite as a substrate include:

  • Improved aeration
  • Moisture retention
  • Faster root growth
  • Retains and re-releases nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium
  • Lightweight

While great in horticultural soil media mixes, vermiculite is especially valuable for passive hydroponics systems.

Request Your Free Sample of Mineral Substrates for Horticultural Soil Medias.

Dicalite Management Group is an international industrial minerals company with a unique multi-mineral platform including perlite, vermiculite, and diatomaceous earth, represented across three brands: Dicalite, Dicaperl, and Specialty Vermiculite. Our sales and technical services team work closely together to ensure you are getting the right product for your application. We know you’ll love the results of using perlite, vermiculite, or diatomaceous earth in your soil mix, so we’d like to send you a free sample. Call us today at 866-728-3303 to request your sample and speak with a knowledgeable representative.

We encourage you to explore our Product Finder. You can narrow down your choices by mineral and use it to find your perfect soil substrate.

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Our blog offers insight and information about new and exciting uses for perlite, diatomaceous earth, and vermiculite deriving from years of research and application. From passive fire resistance to mineral depth filtration, by subscribing to our mailing list, you will receive the latest information surrounding the Dicalite, Dicaperl, and Specialty Vermiculite brands and products.

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