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Rice Hull Uses in Succulent Gardening – Rice hull vs. Perlite

Succulent gardeners and enthusiasts are turning towards a new sustainable and environment-friendly soil amendment in recent times. This alternative is the natural, discarded product of milled rice grains, known as rice hulls or husks.

Rice hulls are the thin outer covering that forms a protective shield for rice grains within. To make it easier for human consumption, rice millers remove these flaky, brown outer layers. And the discarded waste matter is what makes a rice hull.

When used in potting soil for succulents, they are natural, biodegradable and can act as an ideal substitute for other toxic fertilizers. It can also be used as mulch which can stop weeds from growing in your potted plants.

Succulent growers looking for an effective all-organic, sustainable soil mixture can try rice hulls for renewed growth and a boost of other rich nutrients in the soil. 

How to use rice hulls in succulent gardening?

Using rice hulls as part of your soil mixture can work wonders in your succulent growth. But at the same time, not implementing them properly in your soil can cause more harm than good to your plants.

Follow these simple but effective steps of using rice hulls to derive the maximum benefits to your succulents:

·      Step 1:

It’s important that the rice hulls you use do not contain any unwanted materials such as rocks and other toxic chemical components. These minute particles can mix in your soil and cause damage to the root system.

For procuring organic rice hulls, you can directly try from your nearest rice millers or from your trusted garden stores.

·      Step 2:

You can take your regular succulent potting soil mix and add 10-30% of rice hulls as per the capacity of the potted succulent. You can mix them thoroughly with the rest of the soil, for good aeration and water holding capacity.

·      Step 3:

Another method of using rice hull as fertilizer and soil conditioner is by incomplete or partial burning of rice hull called Carbonized Rice Husk (CRH).

This method is done by burning the rice hulls on hot charcoal for effective release of high organic carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium and micronutrients.

This blackened rick hull can then be applied on the top layer of your succulent soil.

·      Step 4:

It is vital to monitor the watering of your succulents when rice hulls are added. This is because over watering can make the soil dense and compact.

Water only when the soil is dry for efficient utilization of rice hulls in your succulent garden. Over time, it can eventually break down and get converted into rich nutrients for your succulent soil.

·      Step 5:

You can apply rice hulls to your succulents periodically, once they get saturated within the soil. The best time to add these soil amendments is during spring. You can also use them when you’re repotting your succulents.


Perlite and its uses in succulent gardening

Perlite is a natural mineral that forms as a volcanic glass which is found in certain mines around the world. This mineral has found various uses in construction and manufacturing. But they are popularly used in gardening because of its well-draining features.

These minerals are mined and made into useable granulated forms for soil mixes. These white, lightweight particles are widely used among succulent gardeners for giving structure to the soil.

For succulents and seedlings with drought-resistant capability and which require less water, Perlite is one of the well-known contenders for soil mixes, along with rice hulls.


Rice hulls vs. Perlite

Both represent unique characteristics when added to your succulent soil mix. The following mentioned distinctive advantages and disadvantages of rice hull and perlite can shed light on choosing the best soil amendment for your succulent garden:


Advantages of Rice hull:

·      Sustainable soil mix:

Rice hull is a discarded product that is abundantly available in rice growing regions. Other soil mixes such as peat moss, perlite and others, damage the ecosystem through mining and environmental disruptions that upset the balance of nature.

·      Water holding capacity:

During high temperatures in the day, rice hulls help in retaining water in potted succulents. This keeps the plants enriched and the moisture level intact throughout the day.

·      Mulch:

Rice hulls also act as effective mulch for succulents. This reduces water evaporation during summer and keeps the weeds from taking over your plants.

·      Well-drained soil:

Due to its porous and granulated texture, rice hulls aid in keeping the succulent soil well-drained. It also keeps the soil well aerated for healthy root and plant growth.

·      Adds silica:

Rice hull is high in silica which is essential for succulents, as it protects against pests, droughts and heat. It also fights against various fungal diseases that develop in soil and roots.


Disadvantages of rice hull:

·      Compact soil:

Over watering of succulents with rice hull can get saturated over time, which can lead to compressed soil. This can turn the soil dense and compact.

·      Impurities:

As the rice hulls are waste product of rice grains, it can contain various unwanted substances that can damage the succulents when introduced to the soil.


Advantages of Perlite:

·      Lightweight:

Perlites are small, white granulated product that are lightweight and can easily mix with any soil type. Succulent growers prefer this soil mix because of its easy to handle characteristics.

·      Soil structure:

It aids in giving structure to the soil through its well defined form. This is efficient in plants like succulents, cacti which require less water.

·      For seedling growth:

Perlite is best preferred when growing delicate seedlings. With its porous texture and firm soil structure, it’s ideal for seedlings to thrive in the initial stages of growth.

·      High humidity:

Because of its large surface area, perlite can generate high humidity in the soil. This protects succulents from overheating during summer months from scorching temperatures.


Disadvantages of Perlite:

·      Non-renewable:

As perlite is a natural mineral which is mined for various uses, it is determined to be non-renewable. The current world reserve of perlite is said to be 700 million tones.  

·      Lacks water holding capacity:

Due to its lightweight characteristic and textures, it lacks the capacity to hold water in the soil, leading it to drain away easily. Perlite also has the tendency to float in excess water.

·      Excess fluorides:

Perlites can tend to cause fluoride burns in succulents, with leaves tips turning brown. It also needs frequent watering as it dries up fast.

With many of our natural reserves being exploited due to growing urbanization, people are turning towards a more sustainable way of life. This includes using natural sustainable and renewable soil amendment such as rice hulls for their plants.

Choosing the best alternative for your succulents can go a long way in rendering healthy and vibrant growth of your succulents. You can follow the above mentioned pros and cons to provide the best suitable soil mix for your succulents.

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