Traditionally, the most widely used medium for growing plants is soil. However, several growing mediums can be used to grow plants and successfully sustain them. One such medium is perlite which has become widely popular among gardeners.
Perlite is an amorphous and granular form of volcanic glass. Perlite is porous and can retain a lot of water. It retains water, but it also provides good drainage and aeration. Learn everything on how to propagate in perlite and keep your baby plants healthy.
Perlite serves in several ways due to its ability to retain water and provide good drainage. It can be mixed with our growing mediums such as soil and peat moss or used on its own. Learn all the helpful tips and tricks on how to propagate in perlite in the following text.
What is Perlite?
Perlite is a volcanic glass formed by the sudden expansion of glass at a very high temperature. That makes the glass pop like the kernels in popcorn. Perlite consists of white-colored, lightweight chunks or granules of porous minerals.
These granules have very good water retention capacity as well as good drainage. Perlite is sterile and has a neutral pH value that makes it ideal for gardening.
Perlite is often mixed with heavier and compact growing mediums like soil to make it lighter and increase aeration. You can also use perlite on its own to start new cuttings. Perlite has been certified to be used in organic gardening and agriculture.
Why Should You Use Perlite?
Perlite makes an excellent choice to be used for any propagation and new cuttings. There are some cases in which using perlite excels over using any other growing medium. One such case is the propagation of leafless nodes, e.g., monstera.
Perlite is a remarkable choice for propagation because perlite granules are lightweight and airy, with enough spaces in between. It allows the plant to establish and grow its root very easily.
Another reason perlite is considered good for propagation is that it provides excellent support to the small plant. You must have noticed how small plants keep flopping around and falling over in water and soil. It can be frustrating. However, you don’t have to face this problem with perlite since it can hold its structure and shape and provide good enough support for the plant to stand tall.
Moreover, new cuttings can be very sensitive, hard to propagate and require suitable conditions to grow properly. Perlite provides these conditions to plants so they can grow and sustain themselves. Too much water, poor drainage, compact soil, and poor aeration are major problems using other mediums like soil. Perlite provides a balanced ratio of water and air to help the plant’s growth.
In addition, the cuttings propagated in perlite develop much stronger roots that easily be transported to the soil without any damage and shock. On the contrary, roots of propagations done in water result in very weak and delicate roots.
On top of all these excellent reasons, perlite is affordable, easy to maintain, and easy to work with.
How to Propagate in Perlite
Now that you have learned about all the excellent reasons for how perlite can be helpful in propagation, we will proceed with how to propagate in perlite.
Items You Will Need
- Plant cuttings
- Plastic bags or glass dome
- Flowerpots with drainage holes
- Gardening gloves
- Helps prevent soil compaction and promote strong root development
- Enriched with Miracle-Gro Plant Food
- Lightweight media helps start root cuttings
- Improves drainage and aeration in potting mixes
- Use only with container plants
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How to Propagate Cuttings in Perlite
- Begin with collecting all the items from your list and set them up. Before you begin, it is recommended to wear a face mask as perlite may have a lot of dust. After wearing a face mask, thoroughly rinse your perlite in a tub and collect it in a cauldron. Now it is ready to be used.
- Now take a ceramic pot of your choice and fill it with about 1/4th of perlite. This part of perlite will allow the water to soak up so it won’t rot the plant. Fill the bottom part of your pot with perlite at a height higher than the saucer so your plant will not have to sit in water.
- Now place your cutting in the middle of the perlite and add more perlite over it. Fill the pot with perlite until it is 3/4th full. You can easily adjust your cutting between the perlite if it is not sitting right.
- Water your perlite thoroughly once the cutting has been placed, and let the excess water drain from the drainage hole at the bottom. Place your pot in the saucer, and the water will recollect in it. Be sure to keep your saucer filled with water. It will keep the bottom layer of perlite wet, providing enough moisture and humidity for the propagation. Never let your cutting dry up.
- Finally, cover your whole system with a plastic bag or a glass dome. If the pot is small enough, you can place it in a Ziploc bag. However, for larger pots, you will need a glass or plastic dome to cover them.
- You can even cover the pot with some cling wrap. Make a hole in the cling wrap to let the plant stick out. The important thing is to maintain the humidity in the perlite.
- One very important thing to remember is to remove the dome or plastic bag every other day. It will provide your plant with fresh air and prevent mold and fungus from growing.
- Propagation of nodes or any succulent or cacti requires the same process. Be very careful while propagating a succulent or a cactus because they can rot easily. Don’t let them sit in water and reduce the humidity and watering for them.
- To ensure healthy growth, provide your propagation with a warm environment. Place it somewhere that receives warm indirect sunlight. A windowsill makes an excellent place.
- Do not expose the propagation to the sun as the cuttings are young and delicate and can get burnt easily.
- If you do not receive sufficient sunlight indoors or do not have the option to place the pot on the windowsill, you can use grow lights. Buy an LED grow light to provide your propagation with enough light to sustain its growth.
- Keep checking on your propagation regularly. Check the development of roots weekly.
- Once your roots have established, remove your propagation from the high humidity environment and replant your cutting in the soil.
- While watering your propagations, add diluted liquid fertilizer to provide the necessary nutrients for growth.
Growing and propagating plants is a very rewarding process though it requires a lot of patience and care to achieve the results. Propagations are generally a little trickier to care for as they are delicate and vulnerable and need just the right conditions to grow. Perlite serves as an excellent growing medium to start propagations and sustain their healthy growth.
This article has covered everything you need to know on how to propagate in perlite. We have also added some expert tips to ensure your propagations thrive. Share your propagation tips and queries in the comments below!