Vermiculite Soil: The Benefits And Uses
Although vermiculite soil is usually found packaged next to other potting soil, it is not technically soil at all. It is, however, a mineral that has a strong resemblance to mica and when treated with heat the vermiculite expands into particles that are not only lightweight but also contain many layers. These particles help to lighten up heavy soils while the layers hold nutrients and moisture to help plants grow.
Vermiculite takes a layered form of flat sheets in its natural state. When it is heated to create vermiculite soil, it expands the layers to about 25 times their original size. Small nuggets that are about a half-inch long and absorbent and lightweight are created when heated.
Function And Benefits
Vermiculite soil can be used to aerate and lighten heavy soil, germinate seeds, or use it as mulch for outdoor shrubs and plants. It is also ideal to keep your house plant’s soil well-drained.
This soil is odorless, non-toxic, and sterile and it will not rot or mold. The absorbent properties in vermiculite soil allow it to retain the magnesium, calcium, and potassium that plants need. Additionally, if you mix it with composted pine bark or peat you can create an excellent home to hold plant food and moisture. Vermiculite soil also mixes fabulously with herbicides and pesticides.
A medium-grade vermiculite soil is a standard that is used by professionals for most horticultural tasks, especially the insertion of cuttings. It can be used straight out of the bag, insert the cuttings and water thoroughly. You need not be concerned with over-watering as long as the container provides drainage. This soil will promote better-than-average root growth in less time.
If the native soil is sticky or heavy, mixing in a bit of vermiculite soil creates air channels that allow the soil to breathe. If you mix it in vegetable and flower gardens as well as potted plants, you can provide the necessary air needed to maintain vigorous plant growth. Also, sandy soils mixed with vermiculite will help the soil hold water as well as air that is needed.
Vermiculite soil eliminates the packed-down soil problem that often occurs in flower pots. You will mix the vermiculite with composted pine bark and/or peat. This will provide incredible moisture and air control, lighten and aerate the soil, and allows the roots to spread out in the pot requiring less watering.
Winter Or Summer Mulch
Using a couple of inches of vermiculite soil as a mulch around roses, shrubs, dahlias, garden plants, and tomatoes prevents them from drying out and insulates them against cold weather. Plants that are protected can withstand winter temperatures easier. Also, it does not become soggy or matted due to its pore structure keeping it from becoming too saturated. additionally, if you apply it directly after the first heavy rain of the summer you can prevent the soil from drying out which causes damage to the plant.
Vermiculite and Roots Transplanting
Dig your hold a minimum of six inches larger than the roots of the plant. Mix the vermiculite soil with the removed topsoil and place this mixture around the roots. This will protect the roots from the sun and wind and provide even moisture control resulting in healthier plants.
Home Floral Arrangements
Fill your container with vermiculite soil and level it off. Thoroughly saturate with water and pour off any excess and then insert your flowers in for a neat arrangement. This type of floral arrangement will allow the flowers to stay fresh for days without any water spillage issues.
Advantages of Vermiculite
Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral material that has been used since the 1940s as an insulating and flame-resistant material.
Some of its advantages include:
- It is lightweight and has high compressive strength, making it ideal for use in containers.
- Gardeners can recycle it with relative ease.
- It quickly breaks down in the environment when exposed to humidity and heat.