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What is vermiculite and how to apply it to plants

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Many experienced gardeners are well aware that without the right care, together with additional components, it is difficult to achieve the desired results when growing plants. To increase productivity, various fertilizers and additives are used, but business is not complete without the use of vermiculite. The natural mineral vermiculite radically changes the microclimate of the root system for the better and provides the plant with a comfortable existence, which has a beneficial effect on its development as a whole.

In horticulture, the use of this substrate has gained popularity due to the large number of positive properties. Therefore, applying it once, hardly anyone later refuses to use this “valuable” material. Let's learn more about this mineral.

What is vermiculite

Physical properties

Bulk material vermiculite, has a plate-shaped porosity, which determines its thermal conductivity, elasticity and bulk weight.

When calcined, its volume increases almost 20 times, and as a result, expanded vermiculite is obtained.

According to lubricating properties, it approaches graphite, but has a high absorbency.

Chemical properties

The following oxides can be found in the composition of vermiculite:

Among the impurities emit chlorine, manganese oxide, sulfur.

This mineral is chemically inert and does not interact with organic solvents, alkalis and acids, which has a beneficial effect on its use for plants, since it does not change the reaction of the medium with its presence.

Agricultural applications

In order to use vermiculite for growing various plants, you need to understand its effect on the soil in which it is added.

This substrate lightens the soil., makes it easier and granular, thereby improving the structure of the soil. This is especially important for loamy and clayey and heavy soils. In addition, it has the ability to retain moisture in the soil, which is very important for plants that do not tolerate drought.

This useful property of vermiculite, as the absorption of moisture, is used in swampy areas, where its excess makes it difficult to cultivate certain crops. The mineral absorbs excess moisture, after which it is gradually giving up, so that the excess is eliminated, thus allowing the root system of plants to “breathe” and develop normally.

This is a very useful property of vermiculite used in industrial fruit orchards, during their laying in areas with high groundwater levels.

Seed germination

It is very convenient to germinate seeds in the substrate. Due to its excellent ability to absorb large volumes of liquid (100 g of the substrate can absorb up to 500 ml of water) this mineral creates an optimal and, most importantly, constantly moist environment that contributes to the rapid formation of a strong and healthy seedling. At the same time, the humidity remains unchanged for a long time, thus avoiding various stressful situations for a seedling that has not yet become stronger.

Later vermiculite can be used when picking seedlings for the preparation of soil mixture. Thanks to this mineral in the soil, aeration is improved, which favorably affects the development of plants.

Another use of vermiculite when sowing is to mix this finely dispersed mineral with seeds to evenly distribute them and protect against mold.

Use of substrate to improve the quality of the soil

This substrate is added to the open ground during planting. fruit, flower and vegetable crops. It plays the role of a kind of passive fertilizer (compounds of trace elements with time under the influence of groundwater are given to plants) and acts as a structurant.

For heavy, dense soils, the mineral is an excellent baking powder, which eliminates the possibility of accumulation of excess fluid. For certain crops whose roots are very sensitive to an overabundance of moisture, this property of the mineral is of particular importance.

The ability to absorb large volumes of liquid without creating excess moisture makes it possible to use vermiculite as a drain for plants. At high groundwater levels, this material is used.

A great effect has a mixture of organic fertilizers and vermiculite. For its preparation will require:

For 100 kg of fertilizer will need 40 kg of mineral.

When using the substrate, the amount of irrigation decreases, which reduces the traceability of micronutrients from the soil, and this, in turn, increases the effectiveness of fertilizers.

Among the positive effects of this mineral on the soil, the absorption of salts of heavy metals and radionuclides should also be noted, which is of very important ecological significance.

Vermiculite in indoor gardening

For indoor plants This substrate is used as a component of the soil mixture. This is a kind of prevention of black legs and root rot. It is added during planting and during the rooting of the vegetative processes, thus creating favorable conditions for the germinating roots and the availability of the required amount of moisture.

Fine varieties of vermiculite are also used as decoration, scattering it on the surface. At the same time, the substrate prevents the formation of a moldy dry peel in flower pots on the surface of the soil, while taking away the excess salts that accumulate if large plants rarely transplant.

Mixtures and methods for their use in indoor floriculture

For the preparation of suitable soils for different types of flowers in indoor floriculture use vermiculite.

The Fine brand is used for flowers whose root system is small or under development.

If the roots are well developed, then a mixture of Medium and Fine (1: 1) will be a good option. For tree-like large plants, a mixture of Large and Medium (in equal proportions) is suitable.

The content of vermiculite in soil mixtures of the total volume of soil is approximately:

For succulents

  • Lithops - up to 50%.
  • Forest - up to 20%.
  • Desert - up to 30%.

Hibiscus, arrowroot, anthurium, alokazy, kaladiumov, dieffenbachy, ficus - up to 20%.

Gemantus, philodendron, ivy, kliviy, monster - up to 30%.

Asparagus, dracaena, tsiperusov, laurels, crotons, date palms, yucca - up to 40%.

Cyclamen, tradescantia, violets, begonias, ferns, gloxinia - up to 40%.

The Large brand is also used for drainage, which is usually combined with a layer of expanded clay and is about 2.5 cm for tree-like plants contained in large containers.

Vermiculite brands such as Fine and Super fine are ideal for decorative mulching.

This substrate is actively used for better rooting of flower cuttings. Prepare it with the help of mineral fertilizers, diluted in water and brand Micron. The rooting process lasts 5-10 days.

If flower tubers and bulbs are poured with layers of vermiculite (2–5 cm), they will be well preserved in winter.

Application during vegetative propagation of horticultural crops

Rooting of cuttings can be much easier., if you use vermiculite and peat, which has a neutral pH. This will create an ideal soil microclimate for plants, in which the root system will develop much faster than in ordinary soil.

Vermiculite and peat in such soil mixtures should be kept in equal proportions. The cutting with a correctly processed cut is placed in the prepared soil and the container is covered with polyethylene, which will create the necessary concentration of carbon dioxide necessary for the appearance of the roots.

Large fractions of the mineral are used as drainage, placing it in the planting holes when laying gardens and flower beds.

The use of the substrate in the garden

The use of this substrate at the beginning of the planting season can significantly increase the yield. Mineral is effectively used for the following purposes:

Growing vegetable seedlings

For pepper, cucumber and tomato, the following components are taken:

  • Vermiculite - 2 parts.
  • Humus-3 parts.
  • Earth - 5 parts.
  • Nitrophoska: 10 liters. - 40

Seed germination

In the package (transparent) with the substrate substrate Super fine and Micron put the seeds, then watered and left to germinate in a warm place.

Cuttings

Apply a mixture of Fine vermiculite and peat in a 1: 1 ratio. When planting seedlings, 3-4 tbsp is added to the well of each plant. l Substrate brand Fine. When planting potatoes will need half a cup.

Mulching

The use of vermiculite in this case helps to maintain soil moisture, even during dry periods. For the preparation of compost will require:

Organic mixture of manure, peat, chopped straw - 1 kg.

Vermiculite Medium and Fine - 4 buckets.

Advantages and disadvantages

It is well known from many years of practice that vermiculite, possessing a multitude of useful properties, has established itself mostly only from the positive side when using it. Can highlight the main advantages of using this substratewhich are as follows:

  • Reduces soil salinization.
  • Almost indispensable for the arrangement of drainage.
  • It serves as a good protection against temperature extremes (plants are less at risk of drying in summer or freezing in winter).
  • Does not rot and does not decompose (possesses biological resistance to the action of microorganisms).
  • Increases soil fertilizer efficiency.
  • It is a preventive measure against root rot, fungi and other diseases from which the plants suffer.
  • Promotes hydroponic cultivation of plant crops.
  • Increases yield.
  • It is a passive biostimulant (contains oxides of potassium, iron and other useful trace elements).
  • Increases the duration of the storage period of fruits and vegetables.
  • Accumulates harmful chemicals and heavy metals, removing them from the soil, which contributes to the production of environmentally friendly products.

Although along with these wonderful qualities of vermiculite, It has a number of certain disadvantages:

  • There is a risk of the acid-base balance of the soil moving to the alkaline side if plants or seedlings that are grown in vermiculite are watered with hard water. In this case, it is desirable to use water-softening agents, or use boiled or thawed water resources.
  • When using this substrate, it is sometimes quite difficult to diagnose the appearance of uninvited soil “guests” (worms, etc.) (this is due to the color palette of the mineral, which is yellow and gray, making it difficult to see pests).
  • You can easily overpower the soil with moisture, if you do not take into account the gradual return of water to the plant with vermiculite, while maintaining the usual mode of irrigation.
  • Small fractions of the mineral are very dusty and get into the nasopharynx, eyes, which makes it difficult to work.

Having considered all the pros and cons when using vermiculite in plant growing, everyone can make a conclusion about expediency and usefulness of the use of this mineral.

Gardening and floriculture does not require much financial investment, but in doing this rather interesting thing, you have to spend a lot of time, which can be wasted if the season is “not set”.

And in order to avoid failures when growing plants, it is recommended to use vermiculite, which has a large number of useful properties, and by adding many nutrients to the soil, it will significantly improve the quality of growth of seeds, seedlings and seedlings. The main thing is to follow all the recommendations and rules, and a positive result will not take long to wait.

Vermiculite Description

Vermiculite is a mineral componentwhich belongs to the group of hydromicas. It is formed in the earth's crust and therefore it can be safely attributed to organic and environmentally friendly substance. Vermiculite, which has found itself in the field of crop production, after its extraction is pre-processed under the influence of high temperatures. Such processing allows it to dry and make loose with a scaly structure. For growing plants, this component is suitable because of the large number of natural elements of growth. These include:

  • magnesium,
  • calcium oxide,
  • potassium,
  • iron,
  • silicon,
  • aluminum.

Vermiculite Surface has a scaly structure, which allows you to save a large amount of air necessary for plant life. The substrate helps improve soil aeration rates. More precisely, the soil ceases to coalesce and become covered with a hard crust that needs to be dug, which significantly increases the permeability of moisture. In the field of crop production can also be used and foamed vermiculite, a positive effect on the root system.

The main properties of the substrate are the properties to absorb and release moisture when the root system needs it. Favorable conditions, the constant supply of moisture and air contributes to the rapid growth of plants and their survival in a new place. Moisture absorption by vermiculite reaches almost 400 ml of water per 100 g of material. Such properties make it possible to grow plants with the help of hydroponics.

The use of vermiculite in gardening

Vermiculite is used for a variety of purposes, but most often it finds use in seed germination. The method of growing seedlings from seeds with this material is quite simple. To begin with, all the seeds are mixed with pre-moistened vermiculite. All the resulting mass is placed in a plastic bag to create condensate. In this position, the seeds very quickly give the first signs of growth, after which they are transplanted into the ground.

Transplantation into the soil also occurs with the help of the substrate. Vermiculite is mixed in proportions of 2: 1 with the soil, after which it occurs planting sprouted seeds. It is worth noting that this method quickly gives positive indicators. The growth rate of seedlings far exceeds methods that use clean soil. The substrate helps not only to saturate the plant with nutritional components, but also to fight off the “black leg” and the rot that forms on the stem and root system in almost any seedling.

After obtaining seedlings suitable for planting, the plant can be transplanted into open ground, but even then it is worth considering the use of vermiculite. Usually on open ground use less substrate. The material is introduced into the soil along the entire length with the calculation of no more than one tablespoon for every 10 cm. After that seedlings can be planted, and the substrate, in turn, will help plants to settle down better in a new place. Vermiculite can be introduced into the soil along with other nutrients, such as:

  • peat,
  • manure,
  • bird droppings
  • mineral fertilizers,
  • chopped straw.

Usually, everything is mixed in equal proportions and added to the soil before planting seedlings.

Saplings at an early stage of their development require a sufficiently large amount of nutrients and care. to develop your root systemtherefore, vermiculite can also be used here as an auxiliary component. It is especially good to use it in proportions of 1: 1 with neutral peat. Such a composition will provide all the necessary components for the growth of young trees or shrubs, and will protect them in the first years from diseases and nutrient deficiencies. Before planting seedlings fill the hole by 30%.

The use of vermiculite in hydroponics

This method of cultivation, like hydroponics, has found wide application in gardening, but it also has its own negative sides. Lack of soil often leads to the fact that plants take root rather difficult and do not receive a sufficient amount of useful components. This is not to mention the fact that the root system simply can not find the ground and cling to it. Vermiculite in this case greatly simplifies cultivation because of its sterility and lightness. The substrate not only allows you to partially replace the soil for growing plants in hydroponics, but also to create a neutral alkaline environment, along with chemical inertness.

Rules of use of vermiculite

Vermiculite is different in its fragility, lightness and scaly structureIt is therefore not surprising that a large amount of dust is generated during the transportation of the substrate. If this dust is inhaled, it may cause some discomfort, so it is best to pre-rinse the material and remove dust. Even if, at first glance, the dust has completely disappeared, it is recommended to use a gauze bandage and goggles during the preparation of the soil.

In addition, vermiculite, although famous for the creation of a neutral environment, its pH may eventually increase. This happens when using hard water during watering. The accumulation of harmful substances begins, the level of acidity increases, and the neutral medium becomes alkaline, which as a result can destroy even a formed and strong plant.

To reduce the hardness of water, you can use cleansers or, at best, boil the liquid and allow it to settle until all the impurities have settled to the bottom. Полив растений должен происходит намного реже при использовании вермикулита, так как он длительное время сохраняет достаточно количества влаги для жизни растений. Частый полив может привести к переливу растений.

Vermiculite can be in the soil for almost 10 years, but even after this period it can be reused. For reuse, the material is dug out of the soil, washed and dried by calcining in a frying pan.

Positive qualities of vermiculite

The use of vermiculite, as mentioned earlier, can improve the process of growing plants.

  1. In the permanent soil, which has a predisposition to salinization, this parameter is greatly reduced when using the substrate.
  2. Fertilizers last longer because they are stored in vermiculite.
  3. Plants receive additional nutrients that neutralize toxins.
  4. A large amount of moisture is retained in the soil.
  5. Increases the growth rate of the root system in plants.
  6. The level of formation of rot on the root system and the stem of plants decreases.
  7. Improves soil structure and significantly reduces acidity.

Vermiculite is used primarily for growing vegetables, germinating seeds, planting seedlings. Its positive properties find excellent use. when making compost or during mixing with various types of fertilizers and substrates. Adding to the soil occurs in pure form or by mixing vermiculite with sand, peat, or soils similar in structure. The drug can even be used to store the fruits of plants. To do this, just pour it on fruits and vegetables and their shelf life will increase significantly.

Conclusion

Gardening requires small cash investments, but at the same time you have to spend a lot of time, but the expectations may simply not be justified. That is why it is recommended to use vermiculite for plants. This substrate adds large amount of nutrients into the soil, and this significantly improves the quality of growth of seedlings, seeds and seedlings. More precisely, the material can help in the field of cultivation, regardless of the level of development of the plants themselves. The main thing is to follow all the rules and recommendations for the use of vermiculite.

Description and scope of vermiculite

Vermiculite is a natural crystalline mineral with a layered structure. Belongs to the group of hydromicas. It consists of: silicon, iron, magnesium, calcium and other mineral components.

The main advantages due to which the material is used in construction - resistance to aggressive effects, high acidity, preserves integrity for a long time, does not decompose.

Many gardeners are familiar with vermiculite, it is often used as a mulching material, a component of the substrate, an aerator. It is used less frequently in construction, although properties and physical indicators are of great interest for this field of activity. Among the developed areas:

• production of paint and varnish products, soft roof,

• at arrangement of the “warm floor” system,

• as a filler for thermal insulation and decorative plaster mixtures,

• for warming individual zones in the house (chimney, floor, roof, etc.),

• as a component of the mixture for screed.

Vermiculite has good insulating characteristics, so it is used in regions with a warm climate as a backfill in three-layer walls to prevent overheating of the house, and in the northern regions - for thermal protection of housing.

The land in the regions of the central belt and the Urals freezes over during the winter period, which often causes cracks in the concrete basins of the basins. Vermiculite helps to correct the situation. They fall asleep to the bottom, as well as into the cavity between the bowl and the edge of the trench during construction.

Insulation is available in the form of backfill, pressed plates, blocks, pipe segments, liners.

Efficiency

Evaluate the effectiveness of wall vermiculite backfill can be on proven indicators. A layer of natural insulation with a thickness of 20 cm replaces the one and a half meter wide wall of brick and two meters of concrete. Mound in the attic with a layer of 5 cm reduces the heat loss of the room by 75%, and 10 cm thickness - by 92%.

Indisputable thermal insulation qualities are also present in plaster mixtures, which includes vermiculite. Lined facades reduce heat loss to 30-45%.

Vermiculite is often compared to expanded clay, but the characteristics of materials differ significantly. For example, vermiculite insulation weight is lighter, which means that the load on the load-bearing walls and the foundation is minimal. When the cavities fall asleep, a tighter fit of the mineral fragments is achieved than in the case of expanded clay.

Features of installation of interfloor overlapping and roofing

Installation work is carried out according to the technology corresponding to the type of insulation (bulk or plate material). It is worth paying attention to the presence of hydroprotection, otherwise the mineral will pull moisture from everywhere.

Assembly sequence

1. The heat-insulated surface is cleared of debris and dust, freed from items left for storage.

2. A vapor barrier is laid on the interfloor overlap, fixed along the edges with a stapler.

3. A frame is made of wooden timber and slats, the size of which corresponds to the parameters of the heat-insulated area.

4. Vermiculite is poured into the framework cells (or the plates are stacked).

5. A waterproofing film is laid over the frame. Along the edges of the frame is attached with staples. It is important to leave a ventilation gap between the insulation and the film so that moisture is not absorbed by the mineral.

6. Of wooden planks mounted counter crate, which is fixed on top of waterproofing.

7. Next, the roofing material is laid or the floor covering is laid.

Some masters in order to save mixed in a ratio of 1: 1 vermiculite and sawdust. But with this approach it is worth considering that the fire resistance of the filler is reduced.

Wall and floor insulation is performed using a similar technology, but it is more rational to use board material when facing vertical surfaces with a frame and counter crate.

What is zonolite

Mineral vermiculite is actually only a raw material for the production of exfoliated vermiculite - zonithite, occasionally occurring in occurrences. Natural vermiculite is a product of natural erosion of biotite mica from the phlogopite series of hydromica. When they say or write that of these micas in the old days they did windows, this is not true - phlogopite micas are opaque. Before mass production of silicate glass, windows were steeped with almost transparent muscovite mica, starting another mineralogical range of mica. Over 90% of world production of top quality muscovite was given by Russia, which was called Muscovy in the West, hence the name Muscovite.

Natural and exfoliated vermiculite (zonoly)

Vermiculite in natural occurrences layered mineral color from dirty yellow to almost black with green. During firing at 400–1000 degrees, it loses water of crystallization, swells across the layers 15–20 times and changes color — this is already zonolite. For agrotechnology, expanded vermiculite is used, see fig. or highly burned, after firing, it is crushed into granules according to the purpose, see below.

Note: For the sake of brevity, Zonolite vermiculite is called vermiculite later in the article.

Vermiculite and Perlite

One of the main tasks of vermiculite in plant culture is to absorb excess soil moisture and excrete it back into the soil as needed. Vermiculite is in the series of moisture sorbents after hydrogel and zeolites. Compared with gels, the exchange moisture capacity of vermiculite is small (up to 400 ml of water per 100 g of dry matter), but it does not disturb the soil structure and does not impair, but, on the contrary, increases its permeability. Compared with zeolites, vermiculite is cheaper, but it has less moisture absorption and does not possess ion-exchange properties. The closest competitor of vermiculite in all respects is expanded perlite. It is devoid of some of the shortcomings of vermiculite (see below), but much less resistant to the ground (2-5 years). Read more about the comparative qualities of vermiculite and perlite, see the video:

Video: an example of the death of plants due to the hasty use of vermiculite

Such plots cause sharp controversy, and the evidence is quite convincing on both sides. What's the matter? If you look into the comments of the audience, it turns out that: a) the supporters of “for” use vermiculite, we prefer for young plants (seedlings, seedlings) and grafting, or on open ground, b) opponents of vermiculite most of all use it without parsing (see below) in a pot culture of plants of certain species. Hence it is clear that the use of vermiculite must be made taking into account both the properties of the substance itself and the conditions of its use.

Chemical composition

Mica in mineralogy are complex aluminosilicates of unstable composition. Technical characteristics of expanded vermiculite and perlite are given in table. in fig. below. The content of the components indicated in it is normalized by the technical conditions on the finished product, but in addition to them vermiculite contains trace amounts of nickel, titanium, manganese and other compounds. Only the manganese is the trace element of plant nutrition; The rest of the trace - ballast, not always useful.

Chemical composition of expanded vermiculite and perlite

But the matter is not only and not so much in ballast. Pay attention to the highlighted red lines. Iron is also a trace element that plants need, but only in 2-valent form Fe (II), 3-valent iron Fe (III) is useless, and its excess harms. Fe (II) is present in vermiculite in the form of nitrous FeO, Fe (III) as Fe2O3 oxide. The shares of the one and the other vary greatly even in samples from the same field, and therefore their ratio is not standardized.

Magnesium is a vital meso element (part of chlorophyll), but in vermiculite it may be in large excess. On the open ground it is not scary: magnesium salts are easily leached and in direct light it is often not enough for plants. But in a pot of magnesium will alkalize the soil, and with a lack of light, plants can deplete themselves with the synthesis of excessive chlorophyll.

Calcium is also a meso element, potassium is the main nutrient. But their oxides, like sodium oxide, form alkalis in the presence of moisture. On the open ground, this is again not terrible: vermiculite is a mineral that is resistant, is leached very slowly, and alkalies are mobile. But from the pot they have nowhere to go in general, and 2-3 months. the period is just enough for plants loving the acidic soil in alkaline soil to wither away: Saint-violet samples from Saint barium, azalea, dieffenbachia.

Granule fractions

Vermiculite is moisture-proof, insoluble in water, and leaching occurs from the surface. The rate of release of alkalis from vermiculite into a substrate depends on the size of the granules according to a quadratic law: with a decrease in the particle size of, say, 10 times, the alkalization of the soil is accelerated 100 times.

Vermiculite granule fractions

Vermiculite for agricultural engineering is produced mainly in 2 fractions: granules of about 1 cm in size (with a nail) and finely ground, see fig. Coarse-grained vermiculite is used in all cases, except for one - sprouting seeds, cuttings and growing seedlings on a mixed neutral substrate, see below. If finely ground vermiculite is used in the pot culture of adult plants, the result is most likely a failure due to alkalization of the soil.

Alkali is not always bad

The results of rooting cuttings in the substrate with vermiculite (b) compared with the control (a)

Potassium, as we see, in vermiculite can be more than in perlite. Potassium is known to promote root growth. Seeds, seedlings and young parts of adult plants (cuttings) put on the verge of survival are much less sensitive to the composition and chemical reaction of the soil, but they need to take root as soon as possible. The main interference with this is a lack of air in emerging roots and spores of pathogenic fungi, but they need an acidic environment for development. Use as a substrate for the germination and rooting of nutritious, but acidifying peat from the soil with finely crushed vermiculite (see below), which has alkalized it, gives impressive results: in fig. on the right, the roots of the control group of cuttings a, treated with heteroauxin and rooted in the usual way, and group b rooted in a mixture of vermiculite with peat with and without a growth stimulator.

Note: when it is better to use vermiculite for seedlings, seedlings and cuttings, and when perlite, see the video:

How to choose vermiculite for plants

The composition of vermiculite within the limits indicated above and the content of ballast trace in it vary greatly depending on the origin of the raw material. The deposit where the source mineral was mined, its quality and suitability for various agricultural purposes can in some cases be determined by the type of product on offer.

Results of growing flower and vegetable crops on vermiculite

The best vermiculite for agrotechnology is light, with a little yellowish Urals (pos. 1 in the figure below). Ural mountains are ancient resurgent. Together with a temperate continental climate, the conditions of vermiculite erosion there are such that iron is contained in it. in the form of Fe (II), and magnesium is just enough for plants. Growing on dry hydroponics with flower and vegetable crops in the Urals vermiculite gives results comparable to those using expensive growth stimulants that require regular use, see table. on right. Alkalization Ural vermiculite gives a slight and easily compensated by the addition of peat brew in a nutrient solution.

Types of vermiculite for agricultural engineering

Kazakh vermiculite from deposits in the young mountains of the Alpine uplift is very similar to the Ural, but slightly paler, pos. 2, because Fe (II) is less in it. But Fe (III) is also less, so this variety is well suited for dwarf and potted plants. It actually did not undergo natural leaching, and therefore, in dry hydroponics and pot culture, it is suitable for plants that like slightly alkaline soil or tolerate it. Application on the open ground and for seeds, seedlings, seedlings - without restrictions.

Pink vermiculite from Altai and the old mountains of Europe (pos. 3) contains a lot of Fe (II), potassium and magnesium. It is the best substrate for seed germination and rooting cuttings. Vermikulite of similar composition best grows seedlings of Solanaceae: tomatoes, vegetable (sweet) pepper (see video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Stx-yDRxXKo).

Motley vermiculite from the Kola Peninsula and Scandinavia (pos. 4) is similar in composition to the Urals and Kazakhstan, but contains a lot of potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and trace contaminants. Good fine crushed for germination and rooting in a mixture with peat. Brown of subtropical origin (pos. 5) and red (“red”, pos. 6) tropical vermiculite is a less expensive alternative in substrates of the same purpose. They are not very suitable for open ground due to low moisture absorption, and are not suitable for pot culture because of the high content of Fe (III) and components that produce alkalis.

On open ground

Vermiculite on open ground is also used dry or soaked in such cases:

  • For sowing seeds in the soil they are mixed with soaked vermiculite fines in a ratio of 1: 2-1: 4 by volume and sown. When spreading by hand, seeds are distributed more evenly, they grow faster, more friendly, and the shoots are more resistant to frost and disease.
  • When planting seedlings preim. in areas that are transitional to arid ones: if the average annual evaporation is equal to moisture during the growing season or exceeds it by less than 20% (for maps of the Russian Federation, see the article on hydrogel). In this case, in the landing wells pour 0.5-1 tbsp. l soaked light vermiculite fraction of 0.5-0.7 cm (with a finger of the little finger).
  • When planting fruit and berry. After dipping the roots, add 30% -40% by volume (3-4 liters per bucket) of the soaked vermiculite of any sort of the largest fraction (2-5 cm) to the remainder of the mullein solution. The mixture is filled with planting pits at the rate of half a bucket on a tree and a quarter of a bucket on a bush. Then poured a layer of 15-20 cm of land, planted, watered. The affection of seedlings of fungal diseases is sharply reduced.
  • For disinfection and loosening of sour nutritious mulch with mullein or bird droppings, variegated, brown or red vermiculite of fractions 0.5-1 and 2-3 cm are added to the mixture in equal parts per 6-8 l of vermiculite per 1 square meter. m pristvolny circle or ridge.
  • As a durable soil baking powder and moisture sorbent for lawns on heavy soils. When laying out a lawn, soil is dug up or plowed to a depth of 25-30 cm, vermiculite is scattered of any kind of medium fractions of 0.5 liters per square meter. m and harrow. The soil is abundantly watered and sown or spreading rolled lawn and watered.

Note: under strawberries and other grassy berry crops that do not tolerate alkaline soils, vermiculite can not be made!

In pot culture

Vermiculite for indoor plants is best to take medium size (with nail) yellowish, pinkish or pink. Very bright is worse: it contains too much calcium, magnesium and not enough Fe (II). For cultures on dry hydroponics, leaching of vermiculite is not essential, since nutrient solutions are acidic. Высокий дренаж (на 1/3 высоты горшка) из вермикулита имеет смысл делать для суккулентов: они выносливы к щелочам и засолению почвы, но не терпят перезалива. На высоком дренаже из вермикулита крупности 1-2 см суккуленты отлично развиваются, цветут, но загнивания шейки и полегания кустов (напр.aloe tree) does not happen.

Some potted crops also do not tolerate flooding, but require abundant watering, for example. azalea, hydrangeas, gloxinia. All of them and similar to them "sour lovers" and die in alkaline soil. High vermiculite drainage in this case is inapplicable, even if each irrigation is done with the release of water to a saucer - ascending capillary currents will draw alkaline solutions to the roots. High drainage and soil fluff for these crops should be made from zeolites, they soften the water.

Seed storage

For storing seeds in sacks, bulbs and tubers for planting, any small vermiculite is initially slightly moisturized: spread out in a thin layer and sprayed from a spray bottle. Then put it in a box with a tight lid, leave it still open and control the moisture content in the mass with a hygrometer. When its optimum indicator is reached, bury the seed in the mass and close the lid. Moisture in the mass periodically checked, if necessary, spray it on top.

Note: fruits cannot be stored in this way - silicate dust is absorbed into them.

Regeneration

Vermiculite for storing seed, germinating seeds and, to a lesser extent, from high drainage in the pot can be used repeatedly. For regeneration, it is first washed in soft water, heavily polluted with an additional boil of approx. half an hour. Then scatter in a thin layer, air dry to dry from the surface and calcined on a baking sheet in the oven. The loss of the volume of granules from one regeneration is 5-12%, the exchange moisture capacity is 10-25%.

Precautionary measures

Vermiculite is safe in circulation, but the smallest dry dust is very dusty with very harmful silicate dust. Therefore, it is necessary to work with it on the air or in an uninhabited ventilated room, and protect the body, hands, respiratory organs and eyes acc. tight working clothes, latex gloves, respirator-petal and goggles.

Vermiculite water

The alkalization of the soil with vermiculite is sharply accelerated and enhanced if irrigation water is hard (over 12 German degrees of calcium hardness). The physico-chemical mechanism of this phenomenon is rather complicated, it suffices to say that the alkalization of the soil in this way with peat extract and acid solutions of fertilizers is not eliminated.

In the regions of the Russian Federation south of the chernozem belt, all soil waters, except for artesian, are hard. Watering the area with separated rainwater is problematic due to the small amount of summer precipitation: you need to build a closed catchment basin for winter waters. Filtration of tap, well or borehole water through a household permutite filter will give soft irrigation water at best for plants on 2-3 window sills. Therefore, in such conditions on open ground, more expensive zeolites or hydrogel have to be used as moisture sorbents.

Composition and properties

Vermiculite has a light, porous and free-flowing structure. It has good noise and heat insulation qualities. It can absorb liquids up to 5 times its own weight. However, it absorbs steam poorly from the air - no more than 10%.

  • environmentally friendly material
  • does not interact with chemicals
  • good thermal conductivity - 0.05 W / m · K,
  • not flammable
  • resistant to microorganisms,
  • does not rot
  • does not dissolve in water
  • there is no smell
  • not of interest to rodents and insects,
  • has a neutral pH - 7.0,
  • non toxic

It is produced in granulated form of different fractions - from 0.25 to 10 mm. Used in many industrial, construction, chemical and other industries, as well as in agriculture.

Application in gardening

Vermiculite, introduced into the clay soil, makes it looser, and it also helps to retain moisture in sandy soils. Due to the neutral pH, vermiculite helps to reduce acidity and reduces the likelihood of soil salinity, prevents waterlogging due to heavy precipitation. Agrovermiculite has a low thermal conductivity, therefore it protects the root system of plants from freezing.

Use of vermiculite in gardening:

  • for rooting cuttings, germinating seeds, hydroponics,
  • used in the form of mulch,
  • as bulk soil - for storing flower bulbs and vegetables,
  • drainage under pot plants,
  • It is added to the soil as a hydrogel for planting flowers.

During planting, seedlings, vegetable crops and flowers, make half a glass per well for 1 plant, for sowing potatoes - 1 cup per tuber, for planting fruit trees and bushes - from 1 to 4 liters per sapling.

Vermiculite is used as a bulk mix for storing and transporting vegetable crops and flower bulbs, as well as rhizomes to protect against bacteria, viruses, excess moisture and premature germination.

The effect of vermiculite on the soil

How agrovermiculite affects the soil:

  • makes the soil looser,
  • prevents the formation of a crust on the surface of the soil,
  • the earth remains wet longer, which requires less watering, and also eliminates the possibility of waterlogging, since vermiculite absorbs moisture,
  • the soil warms up better and retains heat longer at the roots of potted crops and seedlings,
  • soil saturation with air is improved, which contributes to good plant development.
  • Vermiculite mulching is done after digging the ground - with a little powdering it with the soil.

Features of use in crop production

Agrovermiculite is used for drazhirovki small seeds. As a result, their shelf life increases, germination improves, and it is also easier to sow them evenly.

It is added as a baking powder to various fertilizers, plant protection products against weeds and pests. It also contributes to their better distribution when introduced into the soil.

Vermiculite for plants: the pros and cons of using

Positive sides. Agrovermiculite when introduced into the soil helps to improve porosity, increasing its breathability. Prevents the formation of lumps and hardening of the soil.

The use of expanded vermiculite as an additive in soil mixture for pot plants reduces the total weight of the earth. When watering and feeding, nutrients and water are absorbed into vermiculite, and then gradually distributed along the root system, and not evaporated from the soil surface. As a result, the number of treatments with fertilizers decreases and the number of waterings is reduced.

Disadvantages. Expanded vermiculite fines highly dusty, because of what it is necessary to further moisturize. When using a light gray material, it may be difficult to find soil pests: the larvae of the mushroom mosquito, mealy and rootworm.

What is the difference between perlite and vermiculite?

Expanded vermiculite, unlike perlite, is not compressed and does not damage the roots of plants. At introduction does not form emptiness and has the lowered hygroscopicity.

Perlite compared with agrovermiculite easier to give away water and dries faster between irrigations, and evenly gives moisture from its entire surface.

Expanded vermiculite is an excellent option for improving the structure of the soil, while having a low cost. You can buy it in large quantities, since it has an unlimited shelf life.

What is vermiculite for?

Vermiculite mineral found its use at the beginning of the last century. It is used in various industries: in construction, in mechanical engineering, in power engineering and the nuclear industry, as well as in ornamental plant growing and in agronomy. Here, for example, almost all mixtures for fertilizing houseplants contain vermiculite.

However, of course, this mineral is used not only for flowers. It is also used in construction. It is an inexpensive and quite affordable mineral. Its high environmental friendliness, durability and fire safety sometimes come in handy. Vermiculite is used as sound and heat insulator. Many construction mixtures contain vermiculite in its composition.

Mineral characteristics

This natural material has a number of valuable qualities. One of them is fire resistance. It starts melting at t more than 1300 ° С. It also perfectly maintains low temperatures down to -260 ° C. He has excellent fluid absorption capacity. Thus, it can draw in such a quantity of moisture that is more than 5 times its weight. However, it does not absorb atmospheric moisture. Even if the humidity of the ambient air is 100%, the moisture content of the mineral vermiculite will be no more than 10%.

The mineral is different in that it does not rot and does not decompose. Anaerobic putrefactive microflora does not decompose. And, of course, insects and rodents also do not find in it favorable conditions for life. The mineral is inert; therefore, it is resistant to the action of chemical reagents - alkalis and acids, without interacting with them. Its acid-base balance is neutral. In its composition, vermiculite does not contain toxic and harmful substances, as well as heavy metals.

The use of vermiculite in construction

Mineral vermiculite application, as already mentioned, found in the construction industry. Thanks to him, the buildings are given fire resistance, sound insulation, heat insulation. Vermiculite for buildings is used in such works as:

  • in the manufacture of concrete blocks and slabs as insulation,
  • for floor screeds,
  • in the manufacture of steel foundations for building foundations as fire protection,
  • for plastering work.

These are just a few points where this mineral can be used. It is used in other construction works, and no doubt that its use will only expand, since its remarkable properties can significantly improve the quality of buildings.

Noise isolation is one of the main requirements at present for residential buildings. This mineral is very good at this task. Therefore, equipping the floors in attics, in the basement, you can use it for sound insulation layer.

The described mineral is also used in the insulation of chimneys. This can significantly improve their work. More precisely, using vermiculite, it is possible to install a chimney on different fuel resources: liquid, solid or gaseous. In addition, there is no need to install a condensate trap. The chimney does not need additional insulation and insulation. Due to the special properties of vermiculite, soot appears much less, its main mass is emitted along with the outgoing gas. In addition to the above, if you use vermiculite in the weather where building materials are in contact with the pipe, you can eliminate the possibility of smoke. And also installation of the chimney itself is much easier, and it becomes possible to design and install it many times faster.

The use of vermiculite in crop production

For application in planting suitable vermiculite, past high temperature processing. This mineral is called agrovermiculite. Among the many positive characteristics it should be noted that the mineral vermiculite has a beneficial effect on plants. It can be used at any stage of growth and development of cultivated plants. Used also in gardening. It contributes to the creation and maintenance of the moist environment required for the plants, as if “conditioning” the soil.

The structure of the soil when introducing vermiculite is significantly improved due to the fact that the drainage is increased, the porosity increases, and, as a result, the soil aeration. Even with prolonged droughts, the mineral particles, due to the characteristics of their structure, are capable of retaining the amount of water that is five times as much as their own weight. The soil does not crack and is not compacted, which allows the roots of plants to be located in it evenly and freely.

As well as vermiculite, due to its thermal insulation properties, it maintains an optimum temperature for plants in the thickness of the soil. And plants are much better tolerated by both drought and frost. According to gardeners, crop yields are significantly increased. In addition, it well nourishes it with inorganic compounds and minerals necessary for plants. Therefore, it is a very necessary material for improving the quality of the soil.

This mineral contains in its composition calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium. And all of them are in a form, accessible to plants. The soil is remarkably enriched, the plants grow and develop much more actively. In addition, diseases also threaten them less. Accordingly, the yield and quality of the harvest also become much higher. At the same time, the mineral does not have any negative effects on plants. On the contrary, it absorbs heavy metal salts, thus cleansing the soil from them. In addition, petroleum products and radionuclides are also partially neutralized due to the fact that they pass into insoluble compounds, and the plants do not assimilate them.

Vermiculite is used as a carrier of fertilizers (nitrogen, potash, phosphate, etc.). They are absorbed by the granules of the mineral and then gradually go into the soil. In this way, the root system of different cultures feeds remarkably well. When growing potatoes, for example, adding a small amount of vermiculite to all wells will significantly increase the yield. Special fertilizers are also used with it for indoor plants.

Difference of perlite from vermiculite

In addition to vermiculite, a material such as perlite is used to improve the soil. It is a mineral of volcanic origin, which is subjected to hydration by groundwater (obsidian hydroxide). Like vermiculite, it is used in construction as well as in plant growing as a soil improver. However, there is a certain difference between these minerals.

Before use, perlite is heat treated in furnaces. Under the influence of high temperature the mineral swells. So get agroperlite, which is used for soil.

Compared with vermiculite, perlite particles are harder. The perlite's moisture absorption capacity is lower, but it loosens the soil better, due to which drainage and aeration are increased. Water is distributed more evenly, and the possibility of remoistening is eliminated. Vermiculite adsorbs the mineral substances of fertilizers and then gives them out gradually, thus there is no excess feeding. Vermiculite has a neutral pH. Due to this, it shifts the acidity of the soil in the alkaline side when in contact with hard water. Perlite does not enter into any reaction.

Perlite and vermiculite are often used in plant growing simultaneously. Thus, the positive properties of these minerals are able to maximize the soil.

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