Vermiculite is a water-rich phyllosilicate mineral. Vermiculite forms during weathering or hydrothermal processes where biotite or phlogopite is exposed to water for an extended period.

When people use vermiculite, it is first heated to 800 – 900 degrees, causing the material to melt. The water in vermiculite expands until the particles puff up. Subsequently, the water seeps out of the grains.

What remains is a porous, lightweight particle that can retain a lot of water, similar to Akadama but without Akadama’s draining and ion-exchange properties. Vermiculite can be used to enhance the water-retaining ability in your soil mix. It also provides relatively easily accessible minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Vermiculite is not suitable for acid-loving plants such as azaleas and citrus.

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