Using Perlite To Improve Your Potting Mix

Hand holding perlite at PlantGirl.

Here at PlantGirl we're all about good drainage for your indoor plants. The quickest road to plant death is overwatering, hence why we love to set them up for success from the very beginning. There's lots of things you can do to improve your potting mix and perlite is a super easy one!


Perlite looks like small, powdery white rocks, kind of resembling little bits of Styrofoam - but it is far from it. It has tiny pockets that can store nutrients and some water while draining away the rest.

Perlite begins as an unstructured volcanic glass that has a super high water content, typically formed by the hydration of obsidian. It gets heated to extremely high temperatures which makes it pop like popcorn and expands greatly, resulting in a very lightweight material. This is where it got it's nickname 'Volcanic Popcorn'.

Close up of perlite


You can find different types of perlite ranging from fine to very coarse. Whilst they will all make a difference to your potting mix, we find that the more coarse styles of perlite tend to create better absorbency and drainage for your plants.


Using perlite is as easy as throwing it into your potting mix and blending it in.

How much perlite you use in your potting mix will all depend on the  kind of plant you're potting up. At PlantGirl we are pretty relaxed with throwing in a handful of perlite, there's no need to over think it!

As a rough guide you can aim to add about 10%- 20% of perlite to the total volume of your potting mix.


It's probably best to lay off using perlite if you have a plant that requires high humidity or moisture, as the whole point of this material is to create more of an opposite effect to this.

Also if you have dust allergies or are pretty sensitive to dust in the air - this could be something to avoid. Otherwise, make sure you wear a mask when handling it.

For more plant care tips visit our blog and keep an eye on our insta! Or if you're local please come and visit us at our Marrickville store.

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