Perlite is composed of small, lightweight bits of minerals that absorb water into their surface. It is often mixed in with potting soil to both aerate it and help increase its moisture retention. It's best to use perlite when growing plants that don't require a great deal of moisture in the soil. Though perlite helps increase soil moisture, it doesn't hang onto water the way that other components might. Creating your own soil mixture that includes perlite is a great and inexpensive way to grow plants, but perlite can also be added directly to the soil in gardens.
Obtain clay pots to plant in when using perlite. Clay pots are great at holding in moisture, and can really boost perlite's efforts.
Include perlite in potting mixes. To make a standard potting mix, combine one part each of perlite, peat moss, potting soil and compost.
Wear a facial mask that covers the mouth and nose when working with perlite. Perlite's tiny fibers can irritate the lungs.
Add perlite to garden beds to help the soil absorb water more readily. Use a garden rake to work up the top few inches of soil, then sprinkle a layer of perlite on top of the dirt. Turn the dirt with the rake.