Soil is soil, but potting soil has other things mixed in. What are the white pellets in potting soil? Are they supposed to be there? Should you remove them? Unless something is very wrong, like whole mushrooms growing in a bag of potting soil, you should leave it alone. Everything that goes into these mixes has been tested and mixed by gardening experts over many generations of growth. Though different plants need more or less of some ingredients, these white pellets are in most blends. Perlite, which is naturally occurring glass, helps your potted plants get what they need from the soil. I did a deep dive into perlite and other egg or pellet-like soil inclusions. You want those pellets. I will explain why and what other round soil inclusions to look out for in order o keep your plants lush and green.
What are the white pellets in potting soil? The white pellets in potting soil are perlite. Perlite is made from volcanic glass, also called perlite. Though the pure form is not useful for gardening, once it is mined and refined, you get the little white balls you see in the soil. When obsidian comes in contact with water, the reaction is explosive, and perlite is the result.
What Is The Purpose Of Perlite In Potting Soil
The white pellets in your potting soil are perlite, but do you really need it? Perlite, like all the inclusions in potting soil, is very intentional. It is a result of years of research and various blending techniques from gardeners worldwide.
Perlite is first mined from sites where volcanoes were located near water. The obsidian glass is initially sixty-five to eighty percent silica and forms a smooth black substance. However, when the still-hot form of obsidian comes in contact with water, the explosive cooling reaction creates perlite. The list below details all the ways this unusual substance helps your potting soil.
How Perlite Helps Soil
At first glance, those weird white balls of perlite can look like a problem. Luckily, perlite helps your plants stay healthy in several ways.
- Drainage- Perlite helps keep water flowing through the soil, so it doesn’t get trapped and drown your plant or harbor mold spores.
- Preventing Compaction- Soil naturally clumps together. By adding perlite, the unique structure helps keep the soil loose and prevents compaction.
- Aeration- Perlite modifies soil substructure in one other vital way. Water isn’t the only thing that needs to flow through the soil. Plants ‘breathe’ through their roots, and perlite helps maintain proper aeration.
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What Are The Small White Eggs In Potting Soil
Unlike the white pellets of perlite, tiny white dots or eggs in potting soil are entirely different. Potting soil mites live in colonies of your plant’s dirt. Much smaller than perlite, soil mites can move around, though you may not notice at first.
Sometimes you’ll see them on the pot as well. Mites are roughly the size of a pinhead. You will also find soil mites in compost as it is rich in decomposing material. Compost may even have been where you got the soil mites in the first place.
Soil mites might seem like a problem, but they are actually an excellent sign. These beneficial bugs are vital to the health of the soil. As part of the decomposition process, these little insects break down plant and animal residue.
Additionally, soil mites eat fungus and bacteria. They are a natural part of the earth’s lifecycle, and like worms, they aid in keeping soil healthy.
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Why Are The Tiny White Fungus Balls In My Soil
There is a form of fungus that looks like white balls or eggs in potting soil. The trouble with this fungus is that it often resembles NPK fertilizer. Unlike fertilizer, these baby mushrooms won’t provide essential nutrients.
Most forms of mold are relatively harmless. However, they take up space, soil nutrients and can cause secondary issues if left to grow. Plus, mold colonies can expand rapidly.
Leaving slime mold in your soil may not harm it, but it could cause issues for your plants. While this form of mold is harmless to humans, your indoor plants are a great opportunity for growth. If slime molds colonize your plants, they may block the light or eat the plants.
Inside small round slime mold, fruiting bodies are spores. Like seeds from plants, these spores spread more mushrooms. You may want to remove them and take steps to prevent further growth.
Oddly enough, these harmless slime molds are more than merely existing on your soil and plants. Single-celled organisms are not known for their brainpower and, in fact, lack brains. However, this smart slime can learn from its environment and even solve mazes.
What Is The White Chalky Substance In Soil
Unlike white pellets or tiny white soil mites, streaks of a white chalky substance is a bad sign. This particular problem is known as mycelium. In short, it’s the baby stage of the fungus.
Not all fungus is bad. More importantly, the most common varieties, saprophytic fungus, are a normal part of the decomposition process, just like soil mites. However, there are a few dangerous or toxic fungi that can cause issues with your plants or your health. When you’re not sure which type you have, it is best to eradicate it.
Removing Fungus From Potting Soil
It’s alright to keep the non-damaging fungus in your potting soil. However, there are several easy and natural ways to get rid of it without scrapping the whole pot of soil.
One surefire way to prevent and kill fungal growth is to sprinkle plants or spray them with a solution of baking soda and water. You can mix baking soda with new potting soil before planting to prevent future issues. Also known as Sodium Bicarbonate, this beneficial and common household powder does more than make cakes rise and deodorize your fridge.
Cinnamon also has natural antifungal properties. Sprinkling regular cinnamon powder from your kitchen on chalky streaks in your potting soil Moreover, it makes things smell nice and may help repel some insects.
Another excellent, common, and harmless option for fungicide is neem oil. Spray a solution of neem, dish soap, and water on your plants every couple of weeks or after it rains, whichever is more frequent. Doing this will keep your potted plants fungus and pest-free.
If you choose to remove fungus manually, please wear appropriate protection. Gloves, goggles, and a mask will keep you from inhaling spores or getting them in your mouth and eyes. Remove the top layer of soil to get the white streaks out of your soil.
After that, you can mix in a fungicide of your choice. Taking this step will prevent the recurrence of the issue.
Do Fertilizer Balls In Potting Soil Work
Fertilizer balls are not the white pellets in your potting soil. However, they are an effective method for delivering much-needed nutrients to your plants. Sadly, there is a downside to this system.
You need to be careful about over-fertilizing. While your plants need their potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen replenished, too much can cause chemical burns. Always read directions and add fertilizer balls no more often than recommended.
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White perlite pellets in your potting soil are not a problem. More importantly, they are there to help. You should leave them alone and mostly just ignore their inclusion.
Other round or white soil inclusions can be beneficial or problematic, but they don’t look like BB-sized pellets. Identifying perlite is simple. When it’s not moving and pre-mixed into the soil, it’s almost certainly perlite.
If you have fungus or insects, treating your potted plants with fungicide or insecticide should solve the problem. Since perlite is made of volcanic glass, it will not simply disappear if you spray with neem or sprinkle cinnamon.