What Is LECA and How Does It Help Plants?

3 minutesread

LECA offers a variety of benefits and is easy to use, even for beginners.

LECA is an acronym that stands for Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate. It is made up of little balls of clay a growing media used in place of soil. It is commonly used in hydroponic gardening.

LECA Provides the Right Amount of Water

As the baked clay balls soak up water and expand water goes directly to the root without suffocating them. The clay retains the water and releases it for the plant’s use a little at a time. The clay balls prevent the plants from completely drying out but still provide proper drainage, which means less watering.  This is perfect for those who forget to water or are on vacation. It’s good for busy people! Adding a little extra water, allows the system stays moist longer.”

LECA Keeps Pests at Bay

Houseplant pests such as fungus gnats love to live in damp soil with rotting matter. LECA doesn’t contain any live organisms, which means no pests. This is the number one reason for the switch from what I witnessed in my houseplant groups. Plant lovers were tired of dealing with fungus gnats and root rot, getting rid of the soil and replanting in LECA can make a difference.

LECA Takes Up Less Storage Space

Although there’s such a thing as “all-purpose” potting soil, not all plants love them. Not all soils are created equal, and each plant have specific soil needs. With LECA, there’s no need to purchase different soil for your Orchids, Peace Lilly,  or Succulents, it works for virtually every kind of plant. It’s ideal for an apartment or small space gardeners because it requires less storage than traditional houseplant growing methods. No need to store big bags of soil.

LECA Is Less Messy

 We’ve all done it! When watering a plant in the sink or its spot, soil spills on the floor or countertops; this does not happen with LECA. The main thing you must deal with LECA is the dust when you first open the bag. After the initial soak, the clay balls are dust-free and ready to pot up.

LECA Is Reusable

 Soil does not stay full of nutrients forever. Whenever you repot a plant, you need to replace the soil. You can use LECA balls over, and over again even forever if you maintain and clean it properly. As your plant grows out of their containers, all you need to do is transfer it and the LECA to the new pot. If you are reusing the clay balls for another plant, it needs to be washed thoroughly first.

Instructions

  

  • Wash the portion of the LECA you would like to use for your plant (s).
  • Soak your LECA at least 24 hrs. prior to use in hydroponic or liquid fertilizer LECA DOES NOT provide any nutrients.
  • If reusing LECA after a previous plant soak LECA in a bucket of water with 1 cup of bleach.  This will prevent any fungus or bacteria from previous plant to trespass to your new plant.
  • You will need two pots one clear with holes to see roots a second to serve as a reservoir.
  • Keep container about 1/3 of the way filled with water.
  • A Ph meter. Checking the PH level of your water is crucial because it affects nutrient availability for your growing plants.

  

Tips to Get Started With LECA

  • When selecting plants to transition from soil to LECA, it’s helpful for beginners to start off using younger plants with less dense root systems or to use cuttings propagated in water.
  • The roots of houseplants grown in soil differ structurally from those that grow in water so that the transition can be jarring, especially for older or larger plants.
  • As with any significant change to your houseplants, there’s always some risk to the plant. While you’re building up your LECA skills, start with those that aren’t expensive or cherished plants.
  • You’ll need new tools (a pH testing kit and new pots, among other items) to get started, but these can be easily found online or at select local garden retailers.
  • It’s important to remember that LECA provides water but not nutrients, so growing plants in this medium will require periodic applications of hydroponics fertilizer.
  • Plants needs vary, so put a little time into research, so your plant can thrive in its new environment.