The Schundler Company
10 Central Street
Nahant, MA 01908
732-287-2244 www.schundler.com


By Bruce Schundler

What is Perl-Lome?

Perl-Lome is one of the most basic gradations of perlite.

Perlite is a unique volcanic mineral that expands to about 13 times its original volume heated to a temperature of approximately 1700o Fahrenheit. During this heating process perlite "pops" like popcorn and creates a very light, granular, snow-white material that weighs only five to seven pounds per cubic foot.

Expanded perlite contains both tiny air cells and surfaces that are covered with tiny cavities---providing structural characteristics that make Perl-Lome extremely valuable for horticultural uses.

Typical Characteristics of Perl-Lome:

  1. IDEAL WATER RETENTION - If measured by volume, fine PERL-LOME perlite can hold up to 80% of its volume in water. If measured by weight, Perl-Lome will retain three or four times its weight in water and yet not become soggy.

  2. PERL-LOME can be used to break up hard, clay soils and helps prevent deadly compaction.

  3. LONG LASTING ECONOMY - Perl-Lome is a firm inorganic material that does not deteriorate, will not break down readily, and in most cases will last indefinitely.

  4. CHEMICALLY INERT - Perl-Lome is an inert, inorganic material with an essentially neutral reaction, and thus will not noticeably change the alkalinity or acidity of any soil mixture or propagating medium.

  5. COMPLETELY STERILE - Perl-Lome is sterile and free of insects, diseases, weed seed and other soil borne pests and can be used without steam sterilization or chemical treatment of any kind.

  6. SAFE, EASY TO USE - Perl-Lome is clean, attractive, snow-white in color, odorless and easy to handle and free of all additives and materials that are toxic to plant growth.

  7. SPECIALLY GRADED - Research on the use of perlite for horticultural purposes has proven that almost all grades of perlite can be used for various horticultural and agricultural uses.

    • Traditional "horticultural" grades were very large and screened because they were used in very controlled professional greenhouses mixes with peat moss. Because peat can become so saturated, the media needed something like coarse perlite that could provide aeration, drainage, and still hold a little water.
    • Special "medium" grades of horticultural perlite were developed for seed mixes, cuttings, and other propagation applications.
    • Perl-Lome is a very fine (and much more dusty) grade of perlite specifically designed to hold a lot of water, prevent compaction, and maintain aeration. In outdoor applications, the superior water-holding capacity of Perl-Lome is much more important than the drainage characteristics of the coarser traditional horticultural grades.

Perl-Lome as a Soil Conditioner:

Perl-Lome Horticultural Perlite has proven to be an excellent material to use as a soil conditioner in lawns, gardens, and general outdoor plantings because it provide the following results.

  1. Soil structure is improved.
  2. Cracking and crusting of soil surface is reduced or prevented.
  3. The air holding capacity of the soil is increased and adequate drainage is assured.
  4. Water holding capacity and fertilizer retention is increased.
  5. A more even distribution of the root system throughout the entire growing media is made possible.
  6. Soil compaction is prevented.
  7. Over watering and under watering losses are reduced, due to the near ideal air-water relationship which is developed in the growing medium.

    Other Advantages of Horticultural Perite

    • Improves aeration and drainage
    • Makes moisture and nutrients readily available to plants
    • Is inorganic and does not deteriorate.
    • Has an essentially neutral pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
    • Serves as an insulator to reduce extreme soil temperature fluctuations.
    • Is sterile and free of weeds and disease.
    • Is clean, odorless, lightweight, and safe to handle.

    Vegatable Garden with Perlite
    This garden had approximately 2 inches of Perl-Lome perlite tilled into the soil early in the growing season. The results after an extremely dry summer with almost no watering!

    General Garden Applications

    Soil in vegetable and flower gardens can be conditioned by cultivating, with a fork or rototiller, to a depth of 6-12 inches (150-300 mm). A 4 inch (100mm) layer of 100 fine horticultural perlite, or a mixture of one half horticultural perlite and one half peat moss, then is worked into the cultivated soil. (If the soil is rich in organic material, peat moss really does not have to be used.) The same procedure may be followed in preparing lawn areas for sodding or seeding. Established lawns also may be renovated with horticultural perlite. The lawn area should be spiked or plugged and horticultural perlite spread on the surface and raked into the spike or plug holes. The perlite will work its way into the root zone to provide aeration and drainage.

    If the garden area is very large, the home gardener may condition only the rows or areas where planting is to take place. Thus, if the procedure is continued for 2-3 years, the entire garden area will eventually be conditioned. Because horticultural perlite is inorganic, it will not deteriorate in the soil but will continue to function for many years.

    When shrubs or trees are to be planted, a planting pocket 6 inches (150mm) larger than the plant roots should be dug. A mixture of one-third soil, one-third horticultural perlite, and one third peat moss or compost may be used to fill the hole and compete the planting operation. The shrub or tree should be thoroughly watered. The roots of the plant can easily penetrate and develop in the friable growing media.

    Patio Planting

    Horticultural perlite is an ideal material for patio plantings in container boxes, tubs, and ornamental containers. Because a perlite soil mix is so light in weight, handling headaches are reduced as planters filled with a perlite soil mix may be easily moved to rearrange a patio planting display or to protect plants against adverse weather. A suggested soil mix for patio planters is one third horticultural perlite, one third peat moss and one third composted wood product such as bark or shavings, although 100% fine perlite also can be used! Patio plantings in either type of media will require more frequent watering than garden plantings since they tend to dry out faster.

    Roofscape Gardening

    For the apartment dweller with a limited outdoor roof garden, perlite can be of enormous benefit. The weight of planting mixes is very important when the strength of the supporting structure must be considered. Wet, sandy loam weighs from about 120-140 lbs./cubic foot (1920-2240 kg/cubic meter) while a soil mix consisting of equal parts of perlite and peat moss weighs only about 35 lbs./cubic foot (560 kg/cubic meter), and even less if 100% fine perlite is used. As a result, a perlite growing mix can be several times as deep as a conventional soil mix without increasing weight. This enables the rooftop gardener to grow larger trees. shrubs, and plants and to have more extensive gardens.

    For more information about these uses of perlite in containers, landscaping, and/or gardening,
    please call or contact us at:

    The Schundler Company
    10 Central Street
    Nahant, MA 01908
    (ph)732-287-2244 (fax) 732-287-4185
    email: info@schundler.com

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