Vermiculite is a natural occurring mineral and there are large commercial mines in Russia, South Africa, China and Brazil. Vermiculite has numerous uses in many industries but is exceptionally useful in Horticulture, as when it is incorporated in to soil or compost it will provide several benefits for the plants being grown.
Perlite is an amorphous volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content, whilst being exceptionally light in weight. Perlite is also a naturally occurring mineral with Greece currently being the largest commercial producer in the world; China, USA, Japan and Turkey also mine Perlite.
perlite and vermiculite are much lighter than sand and, therefore, much easier to handle
The Benefits: Vermiculite and Perlite are used in a similar way to sand or grit:
Either will open up the structure of soil or compost to aid drainage of excess water, which prevents plants from being waterlogged. All types of pelargoniums and many other types of plants prefer their roots to be in a free draining medium and as they grow they will be much happier and healthier.
Both act as a soil or compost conditioner and are a good addition to the growing medium anywhere in the garden; incorporate in to clay or heavy type soils in the garden to aid drainage.
Add to multi-purpose compost for pot plants and containers to loosen the texture. This will allow air to circulate and excess water to drain away.
Vermiculite and Perlite particles retain moisture and this helps to stop soil and compost from drying out so quickly. However, plants will still require watering.
Both Vermiculite and Perlite are used as a growing medium in hydroponics and for raising cuttings without the use of soil or compost.