Vermiculite is a mineral that has been used in gardening for many years. It’s an excellent soil additive because it holds water well and allows excess water to drain from plant roots.
On the other hand, Perlite is a volcanic rock that has been heated until it pops like popcorn, creating tiny air pockets throughout its structure. Because of this, perlite acts more like an aeration material than vermiculite does.
If you want to improve drainage and aeration in your garden or potting mix, then using perlite instead of vermiculite will benefit your plants. But if you need something to retain moisture better than both materials combined, then go with vermiculite.
Here’s a brief comparison of the different qualities of both perlite and vermiculite.
Perlite provides better drainage by holding only the necessary water, beneficial for the plant. Because it is porous, it allows excess water to drain more readily than vermiculite and improves soil aeration. So perlite is better when you want proper drainage and less absorption.
Vermiculite and perlite are good at absorbing water, but vermiculite acts more like a sponge, holding much more water than perlite. So if you’re planting something that constantly needs water, go for vermiculite. Perlite is porous, so it allows absorption but much less quantity than vermiculite.
Moisture and Nutrients Retention
Because of its softness, vermiculite holds onto nutrients longer than perlite does. If you want something that will hold onto moisture without too many nutrients, then go with perlite instead of vermiculite. If you want something that will give your plants plenty of moisture without being too heavy, go with vermiculite instead of perlite.
Perlite doesn’t hold onto water as well as vermiculite does. It drains more quickly and provides more aeration for plants roots when compared with vermiculite. Perlite is an excellent choice when using hydroponics or soilless gardening methods where aeration and drainage are keys to preventing root rot from over-watering.