Is Vermiculite Biodegradable?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: April 23, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

While vermiculite is common to use in the garden’s soil, a lot of people ask whether or not it is biodegradable. 

Vermiculite is biodegradable, but it takes a long time for the mineral to break down. 

If you were looking for sustainable minerals to use in your garden bed, vermiculite is safe to use. 

People are always asking us “Is vermiculite biodegradable?” when they are looking for materials to use in potting soil. 

On this page, we’re going to discuss why vermiculite is a biodegradable material. 

We will also cover everything else you should know when using this material around other organics. 

Keep scrolling because we have a lot to cover.

What is vermiculite?

Before we get into the real question of “is vermiculite biodegradable?” we should cover what vermiculite really is. 

The put is in simple terms, vermiculite is a natural mineral. It is a hydrous phyllosilicate mineral that expands significantly once it gets heated. 

It has many uses, as it’s a common mineral to use in gardening and building.

This mineral is called vermiculite because when it begins to expand, the long strands resemble worms. 

A lot of gardeners prefer to work with vermiculite because it’s a very lightweight material that doesn’t rot. It is able to help the plants in the garden by retaining water and nutrients. 

Since it can retain up to 4 times its weight in water, vermiculite can keep your plants hydrated.

Is vermiculite biodegradable? 

Vermiculite is biodegradable, but it’s slightly complicated how this actually happens. 

If you were to place vermiculite in your organics bin, you likely wouldn’t see it breaking down with the other items in there. This could leave you thinking that it’s actually not biodegradable. 

Here’s the real deal with vermiculites. It is biodegradable but it takes a really long time. When it’s placed in the soil and left there, eventually it will begin to break down. 

However, this process is so slow that after a few years underground, it will have only partially started breaking down. In some cases, it may not break down fully. 

If you place vermiculite in your garden’s soil, you would not want it to break down fully anyways. 

That’s because as vermiculite breaks down, it releases nutrients like potassium and magnesium into the soil that help your garden thrive.

Can you add vermiculite to compost?

Gardeners can benefit from adding vermiculite to the house plant compost. 

The main reason people add compost to their house plant’s compost is that it helps to prevent them from becoming dehydrated. 

Compost is useful for retaining moisture so the plant can slowly absorb water as needed.

A lot of people prefer to use compost because it eliminates the need to use a fertilizer that could contain chemicals in their plant’s soil. 

If you’re someone who is not 100 % sure about the exact amount of water you should be giving your house plants, the addition of vermiculite could help the health of your plant. 

There are different sizes of vermiculite that you can find for placing in soil. 

If you’re sowing seeds, it’s recommended to use finer vermiculite. For potting plants and other house plants, it’s best to use larger vermiculite. 

Is vermiculite safe for the environment?

A lot of people wonder if vermiculite is bad for the environment. 

Vermiculite has been classified as organic, which makes it safe for the environment. 

You won’t cause harm by adding this material to your soil. However, this all stems down to how the vermiculite has been processed. 

When vermiculite is in its pure state, it’s 100 % safe for the environment.  However, vermiculite in insulation should be carefully disposed of. 

While all modern vermiculite is safe for the environment, this wasn’t the case in the 1990s. 

There was a case in Montana where there was vermiculite used from a mine with asbestos. 

During this time, the mine with the contaminated vermiculite provided the majority of the vermiculite for the US. 

Any vermiculite that is purchased in-store today is marked safe and there is no worry of contaminants, like asbestos. 

This way you will not have to worry about toxic carcinogens in the vermiculite they purchase in-store.

Final thoughts- Is vermiculite biodegradable? 

Vermiculite is biodegradable, but it takes a long time to start breaking down. As the vermiculite is in the soil, it begins to slowly break down. 

This is important to keep your plants healthy and thriving. When the vermiculite does break down, it releases moisture and nutrients that your plants need.

Since vermiculite is organic, it is safe for the environment. 

It won’t cause any harm as it breaks down and releases substances into the ground.

 If you enjoy keeping house plants, you could see the benefits of using vermiculite in the soil to keep the plants hydrated.