Vermiculite is a mineral that occurs naturally. The mineral consists of shiny flakes that appear similar to mica. When vermiculite is heated, it expands and becomes lightweight and resistant to fire. The process of expanding vermiculite is known as exfoliation. Vermiculite is used to make a wide array of different items, including wall and attic insulation products. There are various different common gardening uses for vermiculite, as well.
Vermiculite can be used in potting mixes for gardening. As a potting compost, the mineral is very open and light. It holds higher amounts of water and can make rewetting much easier, which can, as a result, increase the time between each watering. Vermiculite offers good ion exchange capabilities, and can absorb any excess nutrients and then gradually release them to the plants through the root hairs.
Vermiculite is useful for germination of seeds in gardening. It is beneficial for seed germination due to its aeration properties, as well as its capacity for holding water. Due to both factors, vermiculite is helpful for directly contacting seeds.
Vermiculite composts are highly useful for cuttings or rootings in gardening. Vermiculite compost can encourage growth of roots, which provides rapid plant anchoring as well as nutrient uptake. Before placing cuttings, it is essential to water the vermiculite thoroughly and make sure to avoid compressing the cutting's base. For cuttings, a mix that is 50/50 is suitable.
Other benefits of vermiculite in gardening include that, when it is dry, it does not deteriorate in storage, it minimizes and insulates fluctuations of soil temperature, it is not abrasive, it is sterile and organic and it is not an irritant. Vermiculite also is entirely free of problems such as weeds, pests and diseases. It is nontoxic and is not a fire hazard.