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Thread: The Beef with Perlite?

  1. #17
    Steve Booth's Avatar
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    I’ve got to stand up for the much maligned Perlite,

    I have never ever washed perlite before use, why is it necessary?
    Perlite does float when full of air, but you get it wet, as it should be in a bog or bog plant pot, its buoyancy is very low, so low it wont overcome the weight of peat above it and float.
    I contains huge amounts of water and or air.
    It opens the texture of the substrate.
    Light and easy to handle and measure.

    I have found using it in bogs for years, that it doesn’t inhibit sphagnum growth, it also turns green when on top of the substrate so doesn’t look so unsightly after a while (and who cares anyway, put some gravel or peat over it if it offends) and if it does ‘float’ to the top, (rather than the peat for sinking, nobody blames the peat for sinking do they? Oh no! it's got to be the perlites fault hasn't it) one assumes that being so light it has the good grace to get blown off and away by the wind, although this doesn’t seem to happen, curious.

    Cheers
    Steve
    Last edited by Steve Booth; 11-18-2013 at 06:59 AM.

  2. #18
    scottychaos's Avatar
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    Steve,
    good defense of perlite!
    but..your only benefits to the plants themselves are:

    It contains huge amounts of water and or air.
    It opens the texture of the substrate.
    I can see how that can helpful for houseplants..but why would you want either of those things for CP's?
    (im talking about mainly VFT's and Sarracenia..Perlite for Nepenthes and Pings can be (and should be) a completely different conversation.)

    VFT's and Sarrs, in the wild, live in very wet peat bogs..
    their roots are designed to be in contact with more water, and less air, than most plants..
    yes, they dont need to be 100% saturated with water, and there is some air in the peat and sphagnum,
    but why would you need perlite to *increase* the amount of air in the mix?
    the plants dont want or need increased air in the mix..

    If sphagnum and peat is what the plants grow in, in the wild, then it seems to me that sphagnum and peat
    in the ideal media to grow them in, in captivity..
    (I also dont like sand in VFT and Sarr mixes, for the same reasons..if they dont grow in sand in the wild (which they dont)
    why should I add sand to my mix? again, I see no benefit or reason for it..)

    so it comes down to..what is the benefit to using perlite for VFT's and Sarrs?
    I see zero benefit, or need, or use, for perlite..
    perhaps using it (if its clean) is "neutral"..no gain, but no harm..
    but if that is the case, why use it at all?

    I think perlite use for VFT's and Sarrs is a "myth" that hasn't quite died out yet..
    people still use it just because they think they should..just because they read it somewhere..
    it probably came over from the houseplant world: "perlite is good, you want it in your mix, period."
    but does it offer any *real* benefit for "bog" CP's?
    IMO, no, it does not..

    Scot

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    I've used mortar/concrete sand (used in construction), for many years.
    It's the perfect grade, course, construction grade, heavy, course sand, mixed with tiny pebbles.
    The sand comes in 25 lb bags for about $5.00.
    You can only find it in the lumber/builders dept. at LOWES!

  4. #20
    Whimgrinder's Avatar
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    There's nothing wrong with Perlite as a soil component as long as you are using it wisely, and in the right context.

    1) As others have pointed out, there's no need to use Perlite in soil mixes for North American terrestrial CPs like Sarracenia, since it doesn't bring anything beneficial to the equation; sand and peat are the two components that are much more suitable for Sarracenia/Dionaea. Perlite is more useful in a Nepenthes media formulation, where the coarse chunks help make a very airy, fast draining media. If you want ideal sand for Sarracenia, go to a building supply place and request Pool Filter sand; that is what I use.

    2) Perlite contains fluoride, and it does leach out of the perlite over time, so it is best to limit how much perlite you include in a mix, just to err on the safe side of avoiding fluoride toxicity. IE: no more than 30% perlite by volume.

    Otherwise, there is no reason to avoid using perlite, unless you simply cannot tolerate its physical properties because they offend your sensibilities. Oh, and about perlite dust: it is basically powdered glass, and is therefore capable of contributing to silicosis of the lungs if inhaled, so at least wet it before you handle it! I buy fairly large bags of it and the first thing I do is cut off the top of the bag and pour copious amounts of water into the bag (not before poking a couple of small drainage holes in the bottom), allow it to drain, and repeat once more. Never handle the stuff when its bone dry.

  5. #21
    A leuco by any other name would still be as gluttonous. CorneliusSchrute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottychaos View Post
    VFT's and Sarrs, in the wild, live in very wet peat bogs..
    their roots are designed to be in contact with more water, and less air, than most plants..
    yes, they dont need to be 100% saturated with water, and there is some air in the peat and sphagnum,
    but why would you need perlite to *increase* the amount of air in the mix?
    the plants dont want or need increased air in the mix..

    If sphagnum and peat is what the plants grow in, in the wild, then it seems to me that sphagnum and peat
    in the ideal media to grow them in, in captivity..
    (I also dont like sand in VFT and Sarr mixes, for the same reasons..if they dont grow in sand in the wild (which they dont)
    why should I add sand to my mix? again, I see no benefit or reason for it..)

    so it comes down to..what is the benefit to using perlite for VFT's and Sarrs?
    I see zero benefit, or need, or use, for perlite..
    perhaps using it (if its clean) is "neutral"..no gain, but no harm..
    but if that is the case, why use it at all?
    Excellent rebuttal, Scot! My only counter comment regards oxygen in the media. Though the plants do grow in exclusively peat and sphagnum, the water is usually slowly moving in the wild, isn't it? This avoids stagnation and increases oxygenation. In a potted or stationary bog scenario, wouldn't perlite and sand provide these same benefits?
    Corey Bennett

    My cultivated vegetation, carnivorous and otherwise...

    Formerly cbennett4041

  6. #22
    scottychaos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbennett4041 View Post
    Excellent rebuttal, Scot!
    thanks!

    My only counter comment regards oxygen in the media. Though the plants do grow in exclusively peat and sphagnum, the water is usually slowly moving in the wild, isn't it?
    Perhaps..but its not significant IMO..I have visited several wild S. purpurea and Drosera bogs in upstate NY..they are usually "kettles"..glacial remnants..big holes in the ground, with no outlet, and often no streams as inlets either..just water trickling in from the hillsides when it rains..
    so in those cases, there is really no moving water at all..so I dont see moving water as being a factor..
    the main difference would be the sheer *volume* of peat and sphagnum! the plants are not confined to a small pot..so the huge open area of the bog would probably decrease stagnation, when compared to our plants in captivity..and sure, there will be some bogs, with inlet or outlet streams, where the water is slowly moving..but in the bogs I have seen, not so much..

    This avoids stagnation and increases oxygenation. In a potted or stationary bog scenario, wouldn't perlite and sand provide these same benefits?
    I dont see how..you would have pieces of perlite, or grains of sand, surrounded by peat..the peat "blocks" the air from getting to the buried perlite and sand.
    If you had a pot of *only* perlite, or a pot of *only* coarse sand, then sure! nice and open and airy! air flows right through it..
    but sand or perlite mixed with peat: the peat is still very fine..its still going to "block" air flow from getting to the embedded pieces of perlite..
    so you have tiny islands (pieces of perlite) with a bit of trapped air in them..surrounded by peat, and isolated from each other by peat..what good is that?
    I dont see how peat + perlite is any different than 100% peat..

    I still see zero benefit to using perlite..and *lots* of drawbacks..(nasty powder, possible fertilizer added, possible lung damage, etc..)
    So no benefit + lots of drawbacks = no logical reason for using it..

    still not sold!
    Scot

  7. #23
    A leuco by any other name would still be as gluttonous. CorneliusSchrute's Avatar
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    Again, excellent points made by Scot. The potential lung ailments have always bothered me. Even with a respirator, my shop still gets dusted over when the perlite comes out.

    So far sand has been nearly dust free in my experience.
    Corey Bennett

    My cultivated vegetation, carnivorous and otherwise...

    Formerly cbennett4041

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