Vermiculite – you probably hear that term tossed around quite a bit among garden websites. ‘Add some vermiculite to your soil,’ ‘plant in vermiculite,’ ‘don’t use too much vermiculite,’etc. But what exactly is this strange sounding gardening product and how is it used?
What is vermiculite
Vermiculite is an umbrella term given to hydrated laminar minerals – aluminum-iron magnesium silicates – for example. It has an appearance similar to the natural stone mica, which is a muscovite. It is commonly found in garden soil, appearing like white or off-white, crunchy little pebbles in the soil. It is acceptable for use in an organic garden.
What does vermiculite do
In the context of garden soil, vermiculite helps increase water retention and keeps nutrients in the soil longer. It also aerates the soil, which is important for not just your plants but for the soil biome as a whole. Your dirt may look compact, but it’s actually 20-30% air! Aerated soil is vital to healthy plant growth and soil biome. It is especially helpful for plants that consume a lot of water.
How to use it
Vermiculite has tons of different uses. We’ve already discussed why we add it to potting soil, but that’s not where the magic ends. It can be used as a growing medium for plants that consume a lot of potassium, calcium, and magnesium – it will absorb these nutrients and hold onto them for the plant.
It can also be used for root cuttings. Simply plant your root into a medium grade vermiculite and water thoroughly. Similarly, new bulbs and other root crops can be started in vermiculite. Tomatoes and roses do well went started in vermiculite.
It doesn’t just have garden uses! You can also add it to freshly seeded lawns in order to help retain moisture and key nutrients for the healthy growth of your grass sprouts.
You can also use it as a substrate if raising insects, like crickets. It will help absorb and retain any moisture and humidity in the container you use.
It has tons of different uses for the lawn and garden, it’s really not one of those things you should pass on when starting your garden.
Is it safe?
There have been some health concerns recently with vermiculite, but most gardeners believe that the vermiculite you buy for gardening is perfectly safe. There is no evidence at this time that vermiculite use in the garden results in either acute or chronic toxicity or health problems of any kind.
Where to buy vermiculite
Vermiculite is a very common gardening product and can be easily found in most gardening stores. You can also shop for it online and have it shipped directly to you.