We recommend you add some Perlite, to loosen the soil. Perlite is a very absorbent media and will release the water only when soil is dry. It also improves aeration and drainage. Our Perlite has a neutral PH, is sterile, and can absorb up to 4 times its volume. Make sure you also plant some water-loving plants like Bearded Iris (Iris germanica), Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii), or Daylily (Hemerocallis).
Do I need to mix the perlite with some type of soil, or can it be used as a growth medium on its own?
This is a soil additive. Among other things, it helps against soil compaction. Although it works best if mixed with soil, it can be also mixed with Sphagnum peat moss to create a soilless media.
Our clay pebbles can be used for several grow cycles. Just rinse any organic matter and you're good to grow. Their ability to block light from reaching the reservoir makes them perfect for hydroponic systems. Also, their porous structure ensures excellent root aeration and help beneficial bacteria to colonize.
From our experience, they can both be used alone or combined with various orchid media, like bark, charcoal, coconut husk chips, etc. Used on their own, the clay pebbles stock the water and distribute it continuously, while providing excellent aeration for your flowers’ roots.