Vermiculite is a mineral from the hydromica group with a layered structure. In nature, it is represented by large lamellar crystals of golden yellow color. Expanded vermiculite is obtained by grinding natural mica, as well as short-term firing in ovens.
At the St. Petersburg mica factory, this process is carried out in strict compliance with technological standards, because this is an enterprise with a long history. Vermisil, due to its porous structure, allows optimal regulation of air and humidity conditions, provides the soil with good air permeability, and also serves as drainage.
Thanks to these properties, the soil does not cake, remains loose, and does not form a crust on its surface. Due to its porous structure, Vermisil granules instantly absorb moisture and fertilizers dissolved in water, hold them, and subsequently release them gradually.
This property of agrovermiculite makes it possible to exclude the rapid drying of the soil mixture, achieve a constant moisture content, reduce the number of irrigations by 2-3 times, increase the effectiveness of fertilizers, reduce acidity and the process of salinization of permanent soils. Vermisil is used on soils of any mechanical composition. Agrovermiculite Vermisil possesses high thermal insulation properties, which provide an optimal temperature regime in the soil, which protects plants from excessive overheating and hypothermia, and smooths out daily temperature fluctuations. Vermisil is used in pure form or in mixtures with soil for germinating seeds, growing seedlings and rooting cuttings.
The root system of seedlings or cuttings under such conditions is formed more developed. Seedlings on agrovermiculite are protected from fungal diseases, root rot. Vermisil must be moistened before use. Seedlings grown on a mixture with agrovermiculite can be easily removed from pots or cassettes without damaging the plant root system. The seeds of the germinated culture are mixed with wet agrovermiculite Vermisil. The resulting mixture is packaged in containers for germination and placed in a warm place until germination. Sprouted seeds are sown in a container with a soil mixture, for the preparation of which 1 part of soil is added to 2 parts of Vermisil and thoroughly mixed.
A soil mixture with Vermisil will help seedlings rise faster, protect them from root and stem rot. Practice shows that with the correct use of Vermisil, it is possible to achieve a reduction in the time for growing seedlings by more than two weeks! Agrovermiculite not only absorbs moisture with fertilizers, which is then gradually and gently given to plants, but is itself a supplier of nutrients: potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron.
It is extremely convenient to use Vermisil in indoor floriculture. It is added to various soil mixtures in a proportion of 15 to 30% when growing most indoor plants. After all, our motto is: VERMISIL - raised and preserved!
Why do we need such materials? Can they completely replace natural materials? Will the quality of the soil decrease over time? Let's try to answer these questions.
The structured soil improves the soil environment, helps plants to quickly adapt to new conditions, to start growing, developing, and forming a crop in a shorter time. As a rule, cultivated plants grow better on light, breathable, neutral soils. The same qualities, of course, are given to soils by manure, humus, composts. But where to get them in the right amount? This ability is possessed by some rocks and sedimentary rocks and minerals discovered by geologists. They are good adsorbents and have high ion-exchange and catalytic properties. These include perlite, vermiculites, zeolites, diatomites, coconut flakes other. Soil improvers arrive in stores in sufficient quantities, packed in bags or in the form of briquettes. They do not have a shelf life, contribute to the rapid structuring of the used soils.
When applied to the soil, it improves its structure. Acts on the composition as follows:
In practice, perlite is used together with vermiculite in different proportions to create soil substrates, and they are selected based on what is best for a particular culture. As a rule, the mixture also includes sand, peat, chalk, and various micronutrient fertilizers. Such substrates can often be seen on store shelves. When choosing what to use, the main criteria are as follows:
This material is commonly used as an acoustic and thermal insulator, in addition to many functions such as a filter element or protection of fragile elements.
This natural mineral is often used in the production of peat pots. To do this, it is simply mixed in equal proportions with peat.
But it is also used in horticulture.
For plants, it can be a complete replacement for sand, peat and perlite.
Improves aeration. It loosens the soil so the roots can grow deeper down more easily.
Enhances drainage. Vermiculite absorbs water like a sponge. It retains this water until the soil begins to dry out, and then releases it. This property is suitable for moisture-loving plants, but not so well for plants that like drier soil.
Increases soil aeration. Unlike compost, which eventually breaks down in the soil, vermiculite does not break down.
Compost does add vital nutrients, but if you need to continually improve drainage, vermiculite is a great solution.
Raises pH slightly. Vermiculite has a neutral pH, around 7.0, but due to some of the compounds in it, it can slightly raise the pH, which is a plus for acidic soils.
Makes other minerals available. Vermiculite naturally reacts with soil compounds and makes other plant nutrients available, such as calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Use vermiculite if:
Vermiculite can be used as a growing substrate to promote the growth of all plant species, provided it is well aerated, due to its high water retention capacity.
When working with large volumes of vermiculite, a protective gauze bandage should be used.
Vermiculite contains potassium, calcium, magnesium and ammonium, which are essential for growing plants.
It is easy to use and mixes well with other ingredients such as peat, coconut fiber, humus and earthworm humus, and is used for seedlings and potted plants.
Before using vermiculite for the first time, it should be rinsed.
With this combination, a very good substrate is obtained.
Its ability to hold water helps in absorbing excess moisture from the soil and gradually releases it as the substrate dries up, making it an excellent moisture regulator that also helps maintain substrate aeration.
In addition, its mineral content is also very beneficial for plants, which absorb the components it needs.
Since it is chemically and biologically inert, you can add vermiculite to any substrate without fear of causing any kind of contamination, and furthermore, its pH is around 7.
This also allows it to be used in hydroponic crops.
Vermiculite is very useful for transporting plants that must be transported in closed bags or containers, as its ability to maintain moisture helps the plant suffer less.
If you are planting in pots, use 1/3 to 1/2 of the vermiculite in your potting soil.
For new lawns, spread a 1/4 ”layer evenly around the cropped area immediately after you plant it, then water well.
Vermiculite will help keep moisture close to the seeds for improved germination.
Vermiculite can also be used to store bulbs and root vegetables during the winter.
It will absorb any excess moisture from the air or from the surface of the roots and bulbs without drying out the roots and bulbs themselves.
Vermiculite is used similarly to perlite, pumice, biochar and rice hulls.
Each material has its own pros and cons and can be used in combination to get the most benefit.
Vermiculite is best for areas and plants that require a lot of moisture because it retains moisture better.
It is not as good at aeration as perlite, so for heavy soils perlite should be used instead of or in combination with vermiculite.
Only use horticultural vermiculite, as building varieties don't work the same way.
The chemical composition of vermiculite includes trace elements useful for flowers: Ca, Mg, K, Fe, Al, Si, Mn. Vermiculite has the property of retaining nutrients that fertilize the soil. And then gradually these fertilizers are returned to the plants.
The mineral does not rot and does not decompose when exposed to living organisms.
It has thermal insulation properties, and also promotes the absorption of moisture in huge quantities: 200 g of vermiculite can absorb about 800 g of liquid. Vermiculite is not vulnerable to all kinds of acids and alkalis; it is an environmentally friendly mineral.
Expanded vermiculite, or in other words, agrovermiculite for plants has a porous structure. It is an almost weightless and crumbly mineral with atypical scales. Agrovermiculite is used to instantly absorb all moisture and the resulting fertilizers. As needed, the mineral returns nutrients, creating favorable conditions for plant roots to nourish.
Vermiculite is an extremely useful mineral used in gardening, floriculture and many other areas. It was first found in 1824 in Massachusetts, but only in the 70s of the XX century, having studied in detail, they found use for it. There are simple and expanded vermiculite in stores. The features of this mineral, possible disadvantages and uses are discussed in this article.