Expanded Horticultural Perlite


8 quart bag hess horticultural perlite

Hess 100% Natural Horticultural Perlite packaged in an 8 quart bag. Available by the bag, the pallet, or the truckload.

close-up of expanded perlite

Closeup of Hess Expanded Horticultural Perlite.

extreme close-up (micrograph) of expanded perlite

Micrograph of expanded perlite particle showing light, forthy character.

EXPANDED PERLITE is widely used in horticultural applications because of its lightweight form-factor, water-holding capacity, neutral pH, and pathogen-free nature. Perlite is found in the engineered lightweight soils of roof gardens and planters as well as commercial and bagged potting soils. Perlite also functions as a soilless grow media for hydroponics, seed starting and plant rooting. Perlite also makes an excellent conditioner for garden and flower-bed soils, enhancing both the water-handling function and anti-compaction properties.

Potting and Garden Soil Amendment

Common dirt—even a good garden topsoil—is just not good enough for successful container-growing. Top soil, once placed in a container, is prone to compaction, adversely affecting drainage and root zone aeration. Plants potted in topsoil grow poorly or not at all. Soils developed for containers—typically identified as potting soils, though they contain no soil—are specifically engineered to work within the unique strictures of a containerized environment—ensuring proper drainage, moisture and nutrient retention, and adequate aeration for root zone gas exchange.

Perlite is a tried-and-true component of the potting soil mix formulations and used extensively in commercial potting soils and garden soils. Perlite forms the non-consumable portion of the potting soil mixture. Peat moss, shredded bark, and the varous compost types provide excellent structural aeration, hold moisture while allowing excesss water to drain, but they break down over time and, as they do, they loose their effective physical character. The perlite component provides the same structural functions, but does so indefinitely...greatly extending the life of the potting soil.

Soilless Grow Media

Carefully designed, high-efficiency grow systems utilize some kind of soilless grow media, and here too, perlite is highly effective. Horticultural perlite is economical, easy to source, and easy to use. Perlite grow media can be grade selected, even grade-blended, to meet the unique aeration, drainage, and nutrient requirements of both the commercial crop and the demands of the grower’s system and setup.

Grow-system processes ideal for straight perlite media include common plastic containers, fabric pots, and net cups. DWC, dutch buckets, ebb and flow, and drip systems all work well with perlite. Another advantage of perlite beyond versatility, performance, and predictability: as a non-consumable grow media, straight perlite can be reused if kept free of disease and protected from solids loading.


The global perlite industry actively mines a total of less than 3 square miles, which comes to about 1% of the total perlite deposits available worldwide. Perlite mining has limited environmental impact, as there is little overburden to manage, minimal waste, and no chemicals needed to process the ore. Once mined, perlite does not create by-products during expanding and processing, as only the physical form is altered.


Perlite ore is a dense glassy volcanic rock closely related to pumice, but differs principally in its combined water content, which allows perlite ore to be “popped”—expanded up to 20 times its original volume when exposed to rapid, controlled heating. Super-heating perlite ore to 1,700°F softens the volcanic glass, causing entrapped water molecules in the rock to flash to steam and expand the crushed-ore particles like popcorn. The resulting expanded particles—actually clusters of minute glass bubbles—are spherical in shape, fluffy or frothy, and highly porous (foam-like internal structure) with a very low density. The expansion process also creates one of perlite’s most distinguishing characteristics: its white color. While the ore may range from light pearly gray to glossy black, expanded perlite ranges from snowy white to grayish white.


» TECHNICAL DATA: to review the physical and elemental properties of expanded perlite, see the technical data sheet (TDS).

Lightweight, long-lasting, water and nutrient retentive, chemically inert, sterile, safe and easy to use. Available in 8-quart resealable bags by the single bag or by the pallet.
» Size/Grade: Horticultural Grade (130E)
Technical Data Sheet (PDF) for Expanded Perlite
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