My grandmother has flowers in her garden, and recently there has been a lot of white, squishy / soft bits in soil. I do not think they are perlites, as they are soft. My grandmother is convinced that as soon as they appear they ruin all the roots of the plants. Had a look online and cannot find anything! They look like perlite, but damage the roots.

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    what evidence have you that suggests any roots are damaged,that is, what symptoms do plants you think have damaged roots show?
    – Bamboo
    Jan 24, 2017 at 23:24
  • It would be good to post additional information such as types of plants you are growing, type of soil, when this garden was created, etc. Welcome to the group!!
    – JStorage
    Jan 24, 2017 at 23:48
  • Thank you both for such quick replies. My grandmother has planted various types of flowers in this soil and they all seem to start looking like they are dying, then when she picks them up, they are very easy to remove from the soil, as no roots are left. So the plant just comes out really easily. Garden has been created few years ago, never had these white bits until recently, and thats when the plants started to die. We just use normal soil bought from supermarket and plant variety of flowers.
    – Alisa
    Jan 25, 2017 at 0:26
  • Would also like to add, that this problem was never there untill these white things appeared. Before all the plants were healthy and growing steadily. Thank you!
    – Alisa
    Jan 25, 2017 at 0:27
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    Knowing whether this soil is in a container or in open ground is critical - can't answer accurately without knowing that, so please supply the information requested in my comment just above
    – Bamboo
    Jan 25, 2017 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


These 'white bits' are vermiculite or perlite. They are added to potting soil to keep the soil from compaction. They have absolutely nothing to do with plants getting root rot if that is indeed what is happening. Are these plants in pots? Or did she dump potting soil on the ground to try to grow these plants? What else was in this potting soil? Water absorbers or fertilizer?

If she did dump potting soil on top of garden soil she's created a perched water table exacerbated by watering too much. That is all. Plants have to have drainage or the pores in the soil stay saturated too long and ta da, root rot. If we are looking at potting soil in pots, did she put rocks or gravel beneath the soil 'for drainage'? Again a perched water table. Let us know how often she waters, what the soil situation is (pots/garden indoor/outdoor) and what fertilizer she's using.

You HAVE to send pictures of the plants, the environment, the root rot as well, please! Also your zone, where you live, her maintenance habits...

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    I'm waiting for your answer to gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/30560/… Jan 25, 2017 at 8:31
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    @GiacomoCatenazzi Hope you also see Graham's answer. It is perfect. He actually posted an article by one of my instructors in Puyallup, WA. This was a bone of contention for a long while among us Master Gardeners and Pesticide Peoples. I am the LAZIEST gardener in the world. I hate doing more than necessary. My two things are raised beds by double digging and adding decomposed organic matter (and fertilizer for my almost pure pumice soil). Then all a gardener needs to do is add decomposed organic matter and/or cover crops to the top of the bed. Know how to manage the soil you have...
    – stormy
    Jan 25, 2017 at 19:33

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