Definition - What does Perlite mean?
Perlite, recognizable as those small white bits present in your potting soil, is an amorphous volcanic glass that is used in commercial and horticulture practices. This mineral is different from other volcanic minerals as it can expand up to 13 times its original size when heated, resulting in a lightweight material.
Perlite helps minimize temperature fluctuations in the soil and has a neutral pH level. While it does retain moisture, it does not get soggy. It also does not pose any type of fire hazard or toxicity and keeps the soil free from disease, weeds, and insects.
MaximumYield explains Perlite
When it is added to a potting mix, perlite helps in draining and maintaining the moisture content of the plant more than other types of minerals. This is because it is covered with several tiny cells that absorb moisture on the exterior of the particle rather than on the interior. Perlite is more porous than other minerals and when added to soil allows water to drain more easily.
For weed-free and compost-rich soil, it is recommended to mix the soil with perlite as it maintains the moisture content, keeps it well aerated, and also facilitates re-wetting. Perlite is also inorganic and sterile, prevents compaction, and does not decompose for years.
Using perlite to grow plants in a container can enable the pot to hold just enough oxygen and water. This mineral is also great for root cuttings and helps to inhabit much stronger roots than those grown in water alone. However, the plant might experience a fluoride burn while using perlite, resulting in leaves with brown tips.