Forum home Plants

Perlite or grit or neither?

Hoping someone more experienced can offer some advice. I’ve got some lilies and dahlias I’ve grew from bulb/ tuber I’m looking to plant out. 
Unfortunately as I’ve learned my garden borders can be very waterlogged (spring bulbs didn’t survive the winter) and I’ve read its best to add some grit before planting these. 
Despite searching everywhere for weeks I cannot get a hold of horticultural grit at the moment and GC’s are still closed in Scotland. 
So what I’m asking is would you recommend simply waiting (could be many weeks till places start to get any aggregates in stock) or would perlite work in a border instead? 
I’ve got plenty of farmyard manure I plan to add in to this area prior to planting and I’m going to try remove the worst of the clay chunks as well. 
Any advice greatly appreciated. 


  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    Two questions: does the bed stay wet in summer and do you plan to lift the bulbs and tubers in autumn? If the plants would be ok this summer, then you lift them, I would wait until autumn and dig in grit and manure then. I have never added perlite to my clay soil. I'm not sure what it is made of.
  • I’ve added a huge about of manure to try break up the clay and improve drainage. I’ve not noticed any water logging in the last 2-3 months so I think that shouldn’t be an issue over summer but winter may be a different story. Time will tell. We’ve dug a drench near the bed and filled with aggregates in order to improve drainage of the lawn near the border also. 
    100% will be lifting the dahlia tubers, too cold here in Scotland. Wasn’t planning on lifting the lily bulbs.
    Never thought of simply holding off till autumn to dig in the grit/ manure. Brilliant suggestion thank you so much!
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,851
    Manure, manure, and more manure @cbennett17
    It will pay dividends. Far better for clay soil than anything else, but you can also add loads of compost, and mix the whole lot in.Are there any riding schools/stables anywhere nearby? I used to work in one, and I just brought a load home over a few days to create a border along my boundary. Did it in late summer/autumn, and planted it the following spring. 
    It would cost a fortune using perlite, and it isn't very effective in borders.
    Lilies can stand quite a bit of wet though, and the more substantial planting you have in a border, the better the soil quality will be as it takes up a lot of moisture. 
    I think the GCs are opening up next week - ish here, so you might be able to get bagged stuff then  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Manure it is 😅 
    I’ve been waiting so long to see if places get grit back in stock but apparently aggregate deliveries are delayed at the moment which is totally understandable. I really don’t want to wait much longer in term of planting. 
    No stable nearby it would be a very smelly 40 mins drive home from the nearest one 😅 although it would be far cheaper than buying farmyard manure bags...I could always leave it in my compost bin to rot down for next year 🤔 excellent suggestion! 
    I was thinking perlite might not work as well due to it weight and risk of being washed away.  Fingers crossed for GC reopening.
    Thank you guys so much. I think I’ll manure as much as I can and then maybe add some grit in over the Autumn when I’m lifting the dahlia tubers. If I choose to lift the lily bulbs is it basically the same process as overwintering tubers? 
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    Thank you, Mikeymustard. 
Sign In or Register to comment.