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What is Leca and How to Use?

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What is Leca and How to Use leca balls leca plant
@smallplantmom

If you’re new to gardening, you might not have heard of the term Leca before. The acronym Leca stands for Light Expanded Clay Aggregate, and it’s a popular substrate among both new and seasoned growers. These baked pellets, also known as clay pellets, clay balls, aqua clay balls, and hydro pebbles, have a wide range of applications.

In essence, Leca plants is a soil-like growing medium in which you may grow your plants. Leca is a set of baked clay balls that expand when submerged in water.

Because soil includes nutrients, feeding your plants is simple when you utilize it. Leca, on the other hand, is devoid of nutrition. So you might be asking why you’d use this to grow your plants in the first place. That’s what you’ll learn in this article. You’ll see why it’s valuable after reading this piece, and you might even want to try it out for yourself.

What is Leca and How to Use leca ball leca plant
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Why do we utilize them, and what can we accomplish with them?

Leca clay balls have a unique structure that allows gardeners to manage the amount of nutrients and humidity that their plants receive during the growing process. Leca clay balls are inorganic, have a pH of neutral, are fungus-free, and will not decay. They’re an excellent growing medium, topsoil topping, and drainage device for your plants because of this.

Watering your plants is a lot easier.

The most crucial component of growing your plants in Leca, as I indicated in “How to avoid overwatering your plants,” is that the roots are not allowed to sit in water. You may make a fake bottom with Leca and lift your plants’ roots from the pot’s bottom. Then add water until it reaches just beneath the roots of the plants. Your clay balls might begin to absorb the water in the pot while keeping the roots out of it.

Your plants may now decide how much water they wish to drink. Because your plants aren’t always submerged in water, as is the case with soil, they can drink the water that has been absorbed by the clay balls. If your plants are really thirsty, they will begin to grow toward the water at the bottom of the pot and drink from it directly.

The difference between plants growing in Leca and plants growing in soil is that plants growing in Leca pick when to drink. You’re putting the plant in control of its own care when you utilize Leca. After all, the plant understands what it requires to survive. When you utilize soil, you decide what the plant wants and needs. This may be really difficult at times, particularly for beginners.

leca balls with sansiviera leca plants
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There’s a lower risk of root rot.

When utilizing soil, you water when the soil feels dry or the plant appears to be in a specific state. When you use Leca, watering is considerably easier because you just water when the water in the pot is gone.

The clay balls have soaked it up or the plant has drank it all. Even if the clay balls are still full of water, adding more water will not cause the plant to become overwatered. Your plant will not be overwatered since it decides when and how much to drink. You might destroy the plant by overwatering it if you add extra water while the soil is still wet.

Because the Leca leaves a lot of air spaces between the clay balls, there is less risk of root rot. This aids in the delivery of oxygen to your plants’ roots. A shortage of oxygen at the roots of your plants is a major cause of root rot. This problem is solved with Leca, and root rot is no longer a concern.

Growing aglaonema with leca ball plants
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The chances of becoming infested by pests are reduced.

You water your plants in Leca when there is no more water in the bottom of the pot, as described in the preceding paragraph. The plant will decide when to drink so that it does not become overwatered. Root rot is unlikely to occur since it is difficult to overwater plants in this situation.

This implies that the decomposing roots and soil will not attract pests. Pests are fewer when there are fewer bugs. Another reason Leca lowers pests is that it is not a living growing medium like soil. Soil is made up of organic stuff that contains nutrients and is “living.” This implies that it may also include insect-friendly nutrients. Insects are known to transport and spread illnesses to plants, so avoiding them completely reduces your chances of having to deal with a sick plant.

Plants are easy to manage.

The only time you’ll see the roots when you’re growing your plants in soil is when you’re repotting them. You won’t know what the roots look like or how they’re doing between planting and repotting them.

However, if you opt to grow your plants in Leca, you will be able to examine the roots every day if you so choose. Because some plants dislike change, this is not something you should really do. Every week or every two weeks, I clean the majority of my plants that thrive in Leca. I also make care to clean, or at least rinse, the Leca throughout this procedure. This offers me the opportunity to examine the health of the plants’ roots. This is demonstrated in the image at the top of this page. I can monitor the progress of the roots and alter the plant’s position in the pot as needed.

The ease with which you can “check-in” on your plant is what saved my Alocasias from probable death. I was able to clip out rotting roots as soon as I noticed them and clean the plant well to avoid additional rotting. My plants are repaying me by growing anew, despite the fact that it required a lot of effort.

In Leca, picking the correct plants to grow is crucial.

Start by picking indoor plants that aren’t too finicky if you want to utilize Leca as a growing medium. Choose a plant that satisfies the following criteria:

  • Between waterings, it like to dry out.
  • Is able to swiftly grow a vast root system
  • Doesn’t mind being handled every now and then.
  • It prefers soil that is rich in oxygen.
  • It does not rely substantially on the soil for nutrients.

Philodendrons, Orchids, Monsteras, Pothos, Pileas, and Hoyas are all excellent choices.

Growing plant with leca plants balls
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Dressing the topsoil

To protect your indoor plants, Leca plant can even be sprinkled on top of the soil. You may also dramatically limit the risk of indoor plant pests by layering aqua clay balls on top of your potting mix. Because fungus gnats despise landing on and depositing their eggs on inorganic material, Leca is particularly efficient against them. This stops them from reproducing and causing epidemics.

Even better, you can seal in extra moisture by placing aqua clay balls on the soil’s surface. You may protect your plant’s roots from heat and thermal stress while also increasing humidity levels under the soil by covering the topsoil. This is especially useful in the winter (or in colder areas), when the air inside your home can get quite dry. Clay pellets also have the added benefit of being really fashionable!

grow monstera with leca ball plants
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In Leca, how do you fertilize your plants?

As I previously stated, Leca does not offer your plants with the nutrients they require to grow. Leca is solely responsible for watering your plants. As a result, you’ll have to supplement your water with nutrients. Although most common hydroponics fertilizer is OK, there are several specialized types of fertilizer that might aid your plants.

To assist the roots grow quicker and stronger, they might range from growth hormones to fertilizer. I have no experience with them and prefer to use a standard hydroponics fertilizer. This has worked successfully in the past, so it could be something you want to try.

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