The perlite is a rock, more specifically a mineral of the group of silica. To have the appearance of styrofoam balls that we see in the perlite commercial it has of being subjected to a thermal process. So what was before a mineral of high hardness becomes a kind of balls cork white. But in reality it is a mineral compound and inorganic.
Widely used in the composition of substrates specially for the cultivation of plants, the perlite is an important element in the cultivation of the interior. Used to improve aeration and increase moisture retention at the same time on the substrates. But it can also be used outdoors with the same purpose. Initially its use was intended for the construction, for the composition of mortars light, but it was soon discovered by the gardening. To be a material that is completely inert and free of any contaminants, fungi, insects or other seeds that may be harmful to the crops.
The perlite is inert, lightweight, does not absorb too much water, and remains unchanged with time. The perlite is developed from volcanic minerals treated at temperatures of about 800 ° to 900º C. The high temperatures cause the particles to expand up to 13 times its original size, resulting in an extremely lightweight material, with the appearance of polystyrene beads or tiny popcorn. The final product of this process only weighs between 6 and 10 kg per cubic metre. This material is extremely porous which facilitates aeration of soil and is very beneficial for the growth of the roots.
The roots need to breathe and this is impossible in a compacted soil, so that the mixture of perlite provides aeration necessary due to the high porosity of the material. Although it does not retain water, helps the soil retain moisture better. This contributes to that the roots have a better supply of oxygen and water. When used as the cushioning also increases the irradiation of the plant to reflect a lot of light. At the time that acts as an insulator in times of much heat, protecting the roots of the same. By that great light irradiation deters many insects and mites that prefer conditions of less brightness. And finally, also in the case of using the perlite as padding, it will help us to avoid the proliferation of weeds.
The perlite may be used in various ways. Can be mixed with peat and substrate in a ratio of 25-30%, so that it improves the aeration and retention capacity of the soil moisture. The perlite is also a good medium for rooting cuttings and for the production of clones, as it promotes and facilitates the formation of roots much more eficientememte that other substrates that contain earth or soil. It is a natural material, without chemical treatment or additives. Does not generate waste and its durability is very high.
In short, these are the most important advantages of the use of perlite in gardening:
- The addition of a layer of perlite on the substrate increases the irradiation of the plant.
- In conditions of very high temperatures acts as an insulator so that the roots do not suffer from too much heat.
- The increase of the reflected light repels some insects and can also prevent the emergence of weeds.
- Mixed with the substrate significantly improves the aeration and drainage of the same.
- Can be used as a means for germination of seeds and for rooting cuttings.