Horticultural Perlite PERLITE

Basic
Brochure
PRODUCT GUIDE
The Schundler Company
150 Whitman Avenue
Edison, New Jersey 08817
732-287-2244 www.schundler.com



HORTICULTURAL PERLITE
FOR COMMERCIAL GROWERS


This very basic, introductory brochure on some of the uses of perlite was developed and published by The Perlite Institute in 1978. Some of its information is dated, and some of its recommendations have to be evaluated carefully in light of current horticultural practices and techniques. Nevertheless, we have included it here since it still gives a good, basic description of how and why perlite is used in the greenhouse industry, in gardens, and for landscaping.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Characteristics of Perlite
Grading
Perlite as a Soil Conditioner
Potting Plants and Container Grown Nursery Stock
Greenhouse Benches
Perlite as a Propagating Medium
Use of Perlite for Drainage in Containers
Other Horticultural Uses of Perlite


Horticultural perlite is a grade of perlite developed for soil conditioning and other horticultural uses. It has been tested successfully at University Experimental Stations in various parts of the country. The use of horticultural perlite has gained wide acceptance with nurserymen, commercial growers, landscape architects and florists. Much of the knowledge accumulated through these tests, experiments and uses is presented in this booklet. Recommendations for the horticultural uses of perlite are based upon scientific data believed to be true and reliable but because conditions of use are beyond our immediate control, no warranty is expressed or implied concerning this material

CHARACTERISTICS OF PERLITE

Perlite is a unique volcanic mineral which expands to about 13 times its original volume when it is heated to a temperature of approximately 1700. During the heating process the mineral particles pop like popcorn and form a granular, snow-white material so light in density that it weighs only about 5 to 8 pounds per cubic foot.

Each particle of perlite is comprised of tiny closed air cells or bubbles. The surface of each particle is covered with tiny cavities which provide an extremely large surface area. These surface cavities trap moisture and make it available to plant roots and to the stems of cuttings. In addition, because of the physical shape of each perlite particle, air passages are formed in the growing mix providing optimum aeration.

The development of near ideal structural conditions in growing and prop-agating media is made possible by the following characteristics of horticul-tural perlite:

GRADING

Horticultural perlite is available nearly everywhere and it is packaged under various trade names. Most products fall into one of several gradations or classifications. For instance, The Schundler Company has several grades: Super Coarse Grade, Choice Grade, Soilac Grade, and PerlLome. (see both "Standard Gradations of Perlite---Fine, Medium, Coarse Defined " and also "Schundler Company Products and Brandnames Described ")

PERLITE AS A SOIL CONDITIONER

Commercial growers often use the terms "soil structure" and "soil texture" interchangeably in discussing soil characteristics, but this is neither accurate or correct. Soil texture refers to the size of the soil particles present in any mass of soil,while soil structure refers to the arrangement of these particles. Texture is more or less a permanent property of a basic soil a grower uses which he can usually change very little. Soil structure may and usually does change however. These changes are brought about by variations in the nature of the materials present in the soil which bind the particles together in several arrangements. These changes are accomplished by the manner in which the soil is cultivated, handled or used.

The maintenance of proper soil structure is equally or more important to the commercial grower than the maintenance of soil fertility. From a practical growing standpoint three types of soil structure are readily identified by the commercial grower, landscaper, or homeowner--single grain structure, crumb structure and "puddled" soil.

While soil texture is a more on less permanent characteristic of any soil, texture can readily be changed to provide conditions for maximum plant growth by the addition of soil amendments or soil conditioners. The addition of these materials changes the arrangement of the particles in the basic soil, so that a suitable mixture for growing plants is developed that has the ideal crumb structure necessary to produce maximum plant growth.

The addition of soil amendments or soil conditioners is a common practice followed by most commercial growers in preparing soil for growing plants in pots, containers, greenhouse benches, nursery beds or nursery stock in the field.

Soil structure is often modified by adding organic matter, a good soil conditioner, gypsum, sulphur, and through the use of proper cultural procedures.

Horticultural perlite has proven to be an excellent material to use as a soil conditioner because it has certain characteristics Which provide the follow- ing results:

POTTING PLANTS AND CONTAINER GROWN NURSERY STOCK

TYPICAL MIXES

POTTING PROCEDURES

NUTRIENT FEEDING OPERATIONS

GREENHOUSE BENCHES

A mixture of 1/3 perlite, peat moss and 1/3 soil is a good growing medium for these crops, or the stan4ardized medium can be used with nutrients added as recommended for container mixtures.

Prepare a mixture of one-part wet hor-ticultural perlite and one-part wet peat moss or other organic matter and spread in a layer two and one-half or three inches deep over the area and mix or cultivate well into the top six or eight inches of soil and add nutrients in the amounts recommended for con-tainer growing.

PERLITE AS A PROPAGATING MEDIUM

When used as a medium for propagation perlite will:

CONVENTIONAL VEGETATIVE PROPAGATION
Mix one part wet perlite and one part of wet coarse peat moss by volume and fill propagating bench or flats. Stick the cuttings into the mix, firm lightly into place and water well.

MIST PROPAGATION
Mix three parts of wet perlite and one part of moist peat moss by volume and fill propagating bench or flat and fol-low usual mist propagation proce-dures. Perlite used alone without the addition of peat moss is also used by some commercial propagators

SEED FLATS
Mix one-half wet perlite and one-half wet peat moss by volume. Fill seed flats or pots with mixture. Screen one-sixteenth inch of sphagnum or peat moss through a fine screen onto surface of flat or pot and sow seeds. Use screened material for covering seeds when required.

SEED BEDS
Spread one inch of wet perlite and one inch of wet peat on surface of seed bed and work well into top six inches of seed bed. Level surface of bed carefully and sow seeds in usual manner.

USE OF PERLITE FOR DRAINAGE IN CONTAINERS

Before potting plants in pots or nursery containers place two inches of wet perlite in the bottom of the containers. This will insure adequate drainage and maximum root growth.

OTHER HORTICULTURAL USES OF PERLITE



The Schundler Company sells through distributors. To purchase any of our products or comparable brands, please contact your local garden center or retail store, or your local "Do-It-Yourself" center, or mass merchandizers like Home Depot, Lowes, K-mart, Wal-Mart, etc. If you have any problems, please let us know!

For more information,:
email: info@schundler.com
or
The Schundler Company
150 Whitman Avenue
Edison, New Jersey 08817
(ph)732-287-2244 (fax) 732-287-4185
www.schundler.com

Back to Horticultural Main Page