Let’s talk about perlite vs. pumice. Both perlite and pumice are great soil amendments, especially for succulents and cacti. However, the question on most gardeners’ minds even the experienced ones is which better?
There are some factors to consider that will help determine if perlite is better than pumice and vice versa. So, read on to find out about perlite vs. pumice.
Perlite & Pumice
Perlite and pumice are both used to enhance soil aeration that will reduce waterlogging. They don’t retain water, thereby making them an excellent draining soil material. Potted plants such as succulents and cacti cannot do well with just soil. Their soil needs to be amended with coarse pebbles materials to suit their requirements. Thus, soil amendments like perlite and pumice are used.
First things first, let’s take a look at the characteristics features of both so we can determine which is better. It’s good you understand what they are made of and where they came from so you can decide which is better.
Perlite Features & Uses
Perlite is derived from a mined silicon rock that has been crushed, heated, and expanded. They also contain other minerals like iron oxide, potassium oxide, and sodium oxide.
They are lighter in weight and color. Before the process of heating, perlite can be brown, red, gray, green, or blue. However, after the heating process, they become light gray or white.
Perlites are mostly used in ceiling tiles, roof insulation, and plaster. Nevertheless, they are mostly used in gardening and hydroponics. It is also a great choice for seed starters as well as root cuttings.
Pumice Features & Uses
Pumice is derived from volcanic eruptions or explosions and they mostly come from Oregon. The process for obtaining pumice is a lesser and quite environmentally friendly technique than perlite.
Pumice is quite soft but not as lightweight as perlite. They are usually known as solidified rock foam. They are capable of floating in the water and they contain some air that allows them light enough to float on water.
Pumice is mostly used for construction and horticulture. Unlike the regular concrete blocks, the concrete block that has pumice has lesser weight and enhanced insulating features. They are used in the garden as soil amendments and they can also be used as a growing medium in hydroponic gardening.
Pumice is especially great for plants that are heavy and predisposed to turning over as it will keep your plant rooted in one place.
Perlite Vs. Pumice
Let’s compare some features between perlite vs. pumice to know our best pick:
- The pumice comes in various sizes to suit various requirements and they are lightweight but not as lightweight as perlite.
- Pumice is capable of floating but they are still a little heavier than perlite so they can’t be blown away by wind or storm, unlike perlite.
- Heavy potted plants that are capable of tripping over are better off used by pumice rather than perlite to keep them steady. Thus, your plants are safe from wind, heavy rain, as well as routine watering.
- Unlike perlite, pumice does not decompose easily. This implies it can last you for a long time without the need for replacement thus, reducing cost.
- Perlite is not as pricey as pumice. It’s easier to purchase them at your local garden center or nursery.
- Perlite is also easy to access, however, pumice might be expensive in your zone and it might be difficult to get the appropriate sizes of pumice you need. Mostly, bigger sizes of pumice are common. However, smaller sizes may not be always available. The good news is that there are various retailers online where you can obtain the appropriate type of pumice you need. All you need to do is to pay a bit for the shipping fee and have your pumice delivered comfortably to your doorstep.
Perlite Vs. Pumice: The Option Chosen
Even though the two are great, we still have one clear winner. So, our pick is pumice! Pumice is an excellent option especially in enhancing the soil in your succulent.
Both perlite and pumice are great for soil amendments in your garden. They will both enhance soil aeration and drainage for your succulents and cacti.
However, pumice is of greater option because it is long-lasting, doesn’t decompose easily, will hold your heavy plant steady, and so on. The main downside to pumice is that it’s a bit pricey than perlite and it’s not as easily accessible as perlite.
All in all, you should go for the one that will suit you comfortably.