Perlite or Vermiculite?

How do you choose which one to use? 

For Drainage: Choose perlite
For Water Retention: Choose vermiculite

For planters, I suggest using a little of each as they have complimentary properties.

The ratio should be 25% of one or both of these total to potting soil. So that means ¾ of the volume of potting soil and the rest (¼ of the volume) can be any balance of perlite and/or vermiculite.


  • white granular particles
  • a form of volcanic glass
  • containing about 6% water
  • neutral pH
  • surface area of the particles are covered with little indents that hold nutrients and water
  • clean, odourless, sterile and non-toxic
  • will not rot or mold
  • better for drainage than vermiculite
  • lightweight substitute for sand
  • can float to the top of potted plants due to its light weight
  • holds 3-4 times it’s weight in water


  • silicate mineral resembling mica, the colour can vary
  • retain moisture and plant nutrients
  • mixes well with soil
  • clean, sterile, odourless, non-toxic
  • cheaper than perlite
  • contains trace minerals
  • retains water, air and nutrients
  • not as durable as perlite
  • can trap too much water causing soggy, mucky soil


One thought on “Perlite or Vermiculite?

  1. Todd

    February 23, 2018 at 11:17am

    Vermiculite cheaper than Perlite? What country is that in? Not the USA! Mix for best of both worlds? They have two different purposes. Vermiculite will cause root rot in plants that like the soil to dry before watered again (Nightshades and Squash while fruit develops and Cucumbers until flowering and fruit set). Perlite doesn’t retain water for plants like lettuce and broccoli that like constant water (the soil temperature will rise faster also, causing them to bolt earlier in the season). Vermiculite adds potassium and magnesium to soil while Perlite contributes nothing. It depends what you are growing in order to decide ONE OR THE OTHER!

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    • Author


      February 25, 2018 at 3:05pm

      I’m sure the price points are different depending on where you live. Your point is good. I agree, the purposes are different and the two products do different things, and more detail should be there related to individual plants.

      Regarding your second comment: I did not delete your post, it gets held in moderation until I approve it. But given your unnecessary hostility in it, I will not be approving anymore of your messages. Thank you for your input.

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