Are you new to cannabis cultivation? Did you ever ask yourself, what those Styrofoam-like pebbles peeking out of your friend’s marijuana garden are? Are you timid enough to ask him or her? Let me help you with your trouble and introduce you to one of gardening’s essential ingredient, “Perlite.” It is an airy, non-toxic, and easily handled medium that can enhance the growth of any marijuana plant. In the next paragraphs, you will be stumbling upon the vital information we have gathered.
Sit back and start the cerebral high with a mental clarity that lasts long as you focus on this article. Have a euphoric read!
Things You Need to Know About Perlite
Perlite is a type of volcanic rock, obsidian. It is inert in nature with a pH of 7.0. For a long time, this shiny black glass absorbed moisture from its environment. Once mined, it is crushed into small pieces. It is exposed to 850-900 Celsius of heat. The moisture inside evaporates, and the rock will expand hastily. And the result is a white popcorn-like lightweight substance that is occasionally called expanded pyrite or volcanic popcorn.
Industrial settings use this as a mix to lightweight plasters, ceiling tiles, masonry, or as an insulator. It is a famed filtration agent used for filtering grain and other solids out of beer. It is also used in the biochemical industry.
The chemical composition of Perlite varies slightly. Typically it consists of 70 to 75% silicon dioxide. Other chemicals include aluminum oxide, sodium oxide, potassium oxide, iron oxide, magnesium oxide, and calcium oxide. These are natural minerals that are often part of other soil blends.
In the gardening world, it is the most common soil amendment commercially available. It is paired with soil or coco mix. It increases the draining ability of the plant, increases root penetration, and prevent unnecessary nutrient build-up. This results in faster and healthier plant growth.
When Do I Need to Use Perlite?
Soil, peat moss, coco mulch have a tendency to compact. As the media is watered, each particle gets closer to each other, thus shrinking air pores. As a consequence, water will not drain very well, and air will not easily penetrate. A decrease in plant vigor and production will occur.
Due to a lack of oxygen and high moisture retention, roots may fail to grow. They will be more susceptible to diseases. Lichen may spurt on your medium if it remains wet most of the time.
Be a keen observer in your garden. If by any time, you notice that the medium you are using, may it be soil, hydroponics, or coco mix, is becoming compacted or hard and seems to drain out water slowly, you may go and buy yourself some Perlite.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Type of Perlite to be Used
Depending on your growing needs, you can choose from coarse grade or fine grade perlite. The former has advanced drainability and less prone to be blown away by the wind. While the latter is useful for retaining water. The quality and where you get your perlite supplies are factors you have to think about when acquiring perlite.
You have to buy high-quality perlite from a trusted store or supplier. Go for a manufacturer that is highly knowledgeable and has mastery over the product they are selling. You can ask for free samples before purchasing. Find out where the product is produced. This affects the price and delivery time.
Cannabis and Perlite
Perlite is often used as an addendum to grow mediums when cultivating marijuana. You can combine it with organic soil or coco coir. It also goes well with hydroponics. For growing marijuana, fine perlite is the best option.
Most nurseries add perlite to the soil to make handling easier as weight is decreased. If you tend to move your plant a lot to adjust to lighting conditions, this material is perfect for you. It also acts as an insulator that reduces relatively high ambient air temperatures from penetrating the soil.
Perlite is inorganic; thus, there is no risk of introducing harmful fungi, pests, or bacteria. It will not decay or shatter. It is clean, sterile, and poses no harm to the plant.
Perlite and Vermiculite
Perlite and Vermiculite are best used in conjunction with each other. Perlite does not hold more than 1 percent moisture, and Vermiculite holds more water. It is very moisture retentive. It holds a 30 to 50 percent of its volume in water and 200 to 300 percent of its weight. With a balanced 50:50 ratio with Perlite, it will provide media porosity and air. It also prevents plant drought.
The Perks of Using Perlite
- It improves drainage. It is a natural filtration system. Excess water is drained, and enough nutrients are retained. This results in an almost zero chance of drowning your plants.
- Increased aeration is achieved. Oxygen gives life to the roots. Thus, expect a healthier growth from your plants.
- Neutral, as it is, it will not disrupt nutrient concentrations.
- This is ideal for clones. New roots can penetrate perlite easily as it is lightweight. This leads to faster root growth and quicker turnaround time from cutting to growing the plant.
- It can be recycled. It is easy to re-use than others available in the market. It can be cleaned in minutes. Just remove all visible organic materials and rinse off until it measures less than 150 ppm. If you need to sterilize, soak it in a 10% solution of bleach. Soak for 20 minutes then rinse thoroughly.
- It is cheap and lightweight. It provides superior drainage at a low price and fewer chances of physical exhaustion.
- Considered a staple in gardening, perlite is available in most garden supply stores.
The Downside in Using Perlite
Perlite’s dust is a mess. Though not required, you might want to rinse off the dust before mixing it in your hydro approach. It blocks the tubes and pumps and is detrimental to your health. Listed as a nuisance dust, it can irritate your eyes, mouth, throat, and lungs. It contains alumina silicate that can worsen asthma and with chronic exposure, cause Silicosis (a non-cancerous disease).
Use personal protective measures such as goggles and masks to prevent this. Some cultivators are wise enough to fill the bags with water first before opening to remove dust particles.
If you leave the plant unattended for a long period of time, then perlite is not for you. It is dependent on your input and will not thrive well.
You cannot use Perlite in grow systems where flooding is common. Perlite is inappropriate for deepwater cultivation and ebb and flow. The particles may float and travel towards the surface of growing pots causing uneven distribution.
- It has a damaging effect on the local ecological environment because it is strip-mined.
- Due to the filtered nutrients, you need to control and check the pH level of the plants every time you water.
- As drainage is increased, your watering schedule should be more frequent, as well.
The Best Way to Use Perlite
Perlite can be used solo in hydroponics, or you can combine it with soil or coco coir.
Most sold mediums consist of perlite content. If not, you can put 10 to 50% by volume of perlite. Perlite volume provides a ratio for moisture retention and runoff.
For coco coir and soil, you have to add 10-50% of perlite volume. For a modest nutrient cycle, aim for a 10 to 20%. If you want to go heavy with the nutrients, you can mix 30 to 50% to counter the risk of a nutrient lockout.
How Useful is Perlite in Hydroponic Gardening?
Perlite doesn’t hold water. That alone makes it perfect for the hydroponic method of gardening. It has a neutral pH, non-reacting to water, or liquid nutrients used within the system. A basic reminder, though, is to use it within a hydroponic system in which the plant roots continually stay wet.
One of the most favored ways to use it in hydroponics is in propagating plants using cuttings. Coarse perlite and its well-draining nature tend to provoke the roots to grow quickly as they search for nutrients and moisture hidden within the mineral base. Clonex, a rooting compound, can be utilized to stimulate the growth of your roots. Also, make sure that your cuttings are well-drained to prevent root rot.
If you’re planning to use perlite as a standalone media, drip systems, and bucket systems will operate better than ebb-and-flow systems. It poses a problem in ebb-and-flow systems or deep water culture. Naturally lightweight, perlite, and its high air content will float, and you don’t want them to be washed away by the current.
Another reminder, be cautious not to use perlite in aquaponics as the fish can breathe in the small particles, leading to its death.
Perlite in Soil and Potting Mix
If you buy a potting mix, it is a high chance that you find perlite as one of its ingredients. Its superb soil drainage capabilities make it highly in demand.
When you mix perlite in a container, balance it out with water-retaining and aerating materials. It can also be mixed with your regular garden soil but has less effect due to the increased volume of soil. If you have plants with special water needs, then perlite will be of great help. It won’t affect the pH of the soil since it is neutral. Much significantly, you will not find a finer soil aerator than perlite.
Perlite may be small and light, but it plays a heavy part in a cannabis grower’s world. You need to start using Perlite when you see your medium hardening and not draining properly. You can buy it in small bags or by bulk in most gardening stores. It is advantageous as it is mixed and matches with soil, coco coir, or goes solitary in hydroponics. You can pair it with Vermiculite for better water retention. It improves overall root growth as it aerates, drains, and retains enough moisture on the plant. Though with the disadvantages, the perks of perlite have more weight than its downside.
Using Perlite as your growth medium will inevitably enhance any Indica or Sativa plant growth. With its potency to bring about healthy growth, this brilliant white stone may be a future mainstay in your garden.