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Succulent plants require the best potting soil for them to grow effectively. The plants require soils that have good draining abilities, allow air to circulate freely at the roots, don’t retain a lot of water in the containers, and finally have organic nutrients that the plants require for growth and strength.
Perlite is a natural mineral mixed with other elements such as sandy soil for the growth of both succulent and regular plants. Perlite contains many minerals that are beneficial to succulent plants. For instance, perlite contains water and potassium oxide, which increases the growth rate of succulent plants.
Is perlite good for succulent plants?
Succulent plants require specific conditions for them to survive in a dry environment, especially the indoor environment. For instance, succulent plants require soils that drain water and allow aeration to take place at the roots.
Perlite is suitable for succulent plants due to the following;
- Perlite drains excess water from the succulent plants hence preventing them from rotting or dying. They have large particles that allow excess water to flow out of the pot, holding plants as long as they have draining holes.
- Perlite contains organic components such as potassium oxide, magnesium oxide, etc., which apply nutrients to the plants. The nutrients improve the health condition of the plants and increase their growth rate. Also, nutrients present in perlite strengthens succulent plants.
- Since perlites have spaces, they allow free aeration of air, especially in the roots. Aeration increases the presence of oxygen in the roots allowing roots to absorb more oxygen which improves the growth of succulent plants.
- Perlites retain water in the soils for a short time. Once you water the plants, perlite has moisture in the soil allowing the plants to absorb the water required to survive in dry environments.
- Perlite is relatively cheap to buy. Perlites are neutral and therefore do not affect the pH value of the soil.
- Perlite makes soil mixture to be less dense because of its light feature.
Substitutes for perlite elements
Substitutes used instead of perlite include; pumice, vermiculite, styrofoam, sand, and rice hulls.
A. Vermiculite element
Just like the perlite element, vermiculite is used to grow succulent plants at your home. Vermiculite elements have the following features that make them useful for growing succulent plants.
- The element has a good drainage ability to drain excess water from the containers holding succulent plants.
- Provides the plants with nutrients that increase their growth rate and improves the health of the succulent plants.
III. Vermiculite improves air circulation in the roots allowing roots to absorb more oxygen required for their growth. Also, it will enable the roots to breathe freely and improves root strength.
- Also, the element holds all soil elements together.
- Retains excess water from the container.
- It has a neutral pH value, thus not altering soil pH to acidic or alkalinity.
Pumice is the most preferred element than all other substitutes due to the following reasons;
- pumice drains excess water from the container to protect succulent plants from rotting and dying off.
- Retains moisture for a short time to keep succulent plants running in case water supply decreases.
- It increases oxygen circulation in the roots, therefore, improving the growth rate of the plants.
- Since it is obtained from mines, pumice contains nutrients required by plants to enhance their health and increase the growth rate of the plants.
C. Rice hulls
Rice hulls work exactly like perlite and have identical features, and it is fresh. Rice hulls produce steam when exposed to sunlight. The steam kills all gnats, flies, or any pests present in succulent potted plants hence improving the health status of the plants.
D. Styrofoam element
Styrofoam element contains the same characteristics as perlite element. For instance, the styrofoam element is light, and when mixed with other ingredients such as sand, it reduces the heaviness of the soil. Also, the styrofoam element allows the aeration process to take place in the roots hence improving the health and growth rate of the plants.
Sand is the best element that is used in place of perlite despite its heavyweight. Sandy soil has the best draining features because of its coarseness. Moreover, sand soil allows air aeration in succulent plants, thus increasing their growth rate and health.
Despite sand soil having all features required by succulent plants, it is much heavier than perlite elements. Due to its coarseness, sand soil provides better drainage abilities and does not retain water in the containers that will rot and kill the plants.
How to make succulent soil mixture using perlite
- Collect all materials required
Materials required to make succulent soil include; perlite, pebbles, potting soil, and sand. Sand soil enhances better and fast draining of excess water from the container. Perlite element improves draining abilities and holds all elements together to retain the shape structure of the soil mixture.
Pebbles or rocks remove excess water from the container, rotting the plants and eventually killing them. Ensure you use the recommended amount of pebbles to leave room for growing succulent plants. Moreover, potting soil improves the efficiency and draining abilities of the soil mixture.
- Bring the container for growing your succulent plants
Clean the container you prefer using soap and clean water and leave it to completely dry.
- Place all mixtures in the container
First, place pebbles at the bottom of the container and add the soil mixture on top of the gravel. Ensure you don’t fill the container. While mixing all materials, ensure you measure all materials and use correct measurements.
- Locate the center of your container
Using your finger, locate the center of the container and slowly place your succulent plant straight. Ensure the succulent plant does not lean on one side. Water the plant regularly without overwatering it. Also, remember to apply nutrients to the plants to increase their growth rate.
Frequently asked questions:
- Can I use perlite and vermiculite together?
It is not advisable to mix perlite and vermiculite since both are used for the same purpose. Both elements improve soil drainage abilities. They both retain moisture that runs succulent plants before the soil mixture completely dries. Moreover, both supply nutrients to the plants to improve their health and increase their growth rate.
- Can I reuse perlite?
It is advisable to reuse perlite soil instead of disposing of them off. To reuse perlite element, follow the steps below;
- Remove the used perlite from the container slowly.
- Get rid of all plant remnants present. Pick all dirt from the soil, including remnant roots.
- Clean the soil using the recommended solution. Rinse the solution off and leave it to dry.
- Keep the element in a cool, dry place for future use.
Perlite elements have significant benefits for succulent plants. For instance, they retain water giving roots enough time to absorb the required water before the soil mixture starts drying up. Also, they support aeration in soil, which promotes the growth of succulent plants.
If you want to make your succulent soil, the steps above will help you implement the best soil for growing your succulent plants. Finally, you can use substitutes for perlites like sand and pumice if the perlite element is not present.