I would really like to make a soil mix with some perlite, so it becomes really light and has good drainage and won't hold up too much water.

This is to use on potted plants.

But I couldn't find any perlite to buy near me. What can I use as a substitute?

I was thinking of maybe some crushed expanded clay pellets. Could it work?

Does anybody have a better suggestion?

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  • Is this for a particular sort of plant? Aug 23, 2020 at 2:35
  • @PolypipeWrangler Thanks for your comment. No, just a light-weight soil in general. I tend to over-water my plants sometimes, and I'd like a soil that will drain excess water efficiently. Aug 23, 2020 at 11:35
  • Pumice or Vermiculite might be available in farmer supplies shops that you could use for gardening. Feb 8, 2021 at 20:06

2 Answers 2


You could use rice hulls or biochar as well as the above mentioned. Would stay away from using styrofoam, no need to add more of that to our environment when there are so many other solutions.


Been bag pellets. Vermiculite, Shredded styrofoam.

The process o shredding styrofoam is difficult or messy for an individual to do. Industrially they make equipment to do it. You can use a wood chipper, but bits of styrofoam go EVERYWHERE. Keeping the styrofoam wet with water with just a touch of salt in it will help, as static charge is one of the reason it goes everywhere.

Chunks of wood -- wood chip mulch will help. It will also increase the nitrogen demand. Soak in water for week before mixing in.

Charcoal briquets crumbled up coarsely. This is also messy.

Pumice works well too. Again, the problem is breaking it up.

I would expect broken up polyurethane foam would work too.

  • 1
    Thanks! Is there a risk of the plant absorbing some substances from the bean bag pellets or the styrofoam? Some of the plants are herbs and spices that I'll use for cooking. Aug 23, 2020 at 11:33
  • 1
    That would depend on the source of foam. Beanbag pellets may not be the best choice. Look for foam that was originally used for food grade or at least horiticultural use. Beaver Plastics used to rent a block shredder for their used styroblocks -- in their case blocks used for growing forestry seedlings. Aug 23, 2020 at 12:46
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    Please don't add Styrofoam to garden soil. It will create a huge litter problem and may not even have the desired soil aerating effect. See airseacontainers.com/blog/…
    – Kilobyte
    Feb 8, 2021 at 19:45

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