Last Updated on October 5, 2022 by Stephanie
Its really simple! Utilizing LECA as a medium for growing your home plants will save you time and, in the end also, money.
Due to the amazing capacity of plants to grow in this clay aggregate, you are able to adhere to a simple monitoring and watering routine.
Select a fertilizer that is ready to use, or follow our directions to create your own. What are you wasting time with? Grow!
Table of Contents
Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate – What is it?
LECA can be a shorthand that is a reference to the word lightweight expanded clay aggregate. It is made from clay which is then treated by baking with chemicals. It is dried in a rotating oven at temperatures of more than 2000 degrees F.
The final product, which is used in the garden at home, is clay balls that range in size that range from 4mm to 25mm in diameter.
After being baked, clay pebbles expand and firm into small balls lightweight, about 250 kg/m3. The clay aggregate is ideal for growing plants, with the advantages of the ability to retain moisture, thermal insulation, and neutral pH.
The growing medium, unlike soil, doesnt break down and give plants nutrients. The clay balls soak up to 30 percent of their weight in water and expand slightly after they are soaked.
How Can You Use LECA Balls Effectively?
Perhaps your houseplant is rootbound? This is the ideal time to plant again using a mix with soil as well as LECA.
Check out my article on how to use LECA balls to take an in-depth look at the process of repotting your plant.
Make use of the LECA to fill one-third of your container to create an illusion of a bottom. Place your plant or seedling in place while filling the rest of the container with a mixture of soil as well as the LECA ball. Fill the pot with water until you get to an amount that is just below the plants roots.
Important An clear container allows you to easily observe the roots of your plant while providing an attractive visual aspect for your collection of indoor plants.
Related: How to Use LECA Balls (Clay Pebbles)
How to Care for Plants in LECA
The care of a plant in LECA is simple. First, make sure your plant receives an adequate amount of sunlight.
Second, ensure that the water level topped up just below the roots of the plant. Thirdly, keep an eye on the leaves of the plant and check the pH levels.
Conductivity tests can be conducted to determine the number of salts dissolved in the solution. The presence of high levels of salt can limit the ability of a plant to absorb water.
Benefits of Feeding Plants While in LECA Clay Balls
The advantages include longer intervals between watering the plants, less chance of root rot, and less chance of pests. It is also easier to monitor your plants.
If you have soil, your watering schedule could require a weekly check-up. Fortunately, LECA regulates the moisture in your planter by absorbing water once it is present and then storing it in a manner that allows the roots around it to take it in at a later time.
A plant that is potted that is surrounded by LECA balls is less susceptible to root rot than a plant that is grown in soil. As time passes, soil begins to shrink and decrease the amount of oxygen that is available to the root system of the plant.
The wide gaps between clay balls aid in evaporating, which increases the humidity in the immediate surroundings of the plant.
LECA does not contain living organisms and will not decompose or turn to rot when immersed in water. If soil remains wet for long periods of time, it attracts insects and other pests of different kinds.
What are the Drawbacks of Feeding Plants in LECA Clay Balls?
The negatives are stunted growth of the root, wilting plants when improperly applied as well as reliance on fertilizer.
How to Fertilize Plants in LECA
Fertilizing plants in LECA is simple and is often less complicated than fertilizing plants in the soil.
The medium that grows releases no nutrients and doesnt break down, which reduces the variables you should consider when you add fertilizer to plants.
Feeding Plants in Semi-Hydroponic System Properly
The semi-hydroponics system makes use of LECA (or an equivalent growing medium) without the need for organic soil for growing plants.
It is a simple system to transform plants into, and it is ideal for plants that need large quantities of nutrients, high humidity levels, or well-drained soil.
Add a fertilizer for hydroponics to your water after youve repotted your plant. Keep monitoring and watering your plant for the first two weeks since an abrupt lack of water could damage the root system.
You should consider investing in a top-quality fertilizer as this is the sole source of food for your plants. Add 1/4 teaspoon in general hydroponics fertilizer for each gallon of water, or follow the directions of the specific product you are using.
After a couple of weeks of monitoring your plant, you can alter the number of nutrients you add. After one week, if the plant isnt flourishing, you can increase the amount to 1/2 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water.
What Fertilizer Do You Use for LECA Plants?
The most effective fertilizers for houseplants that are grown within LECA are specifically designed for hydroponics. These formulas address the nutrients that are not typically provided to plants in the soil.
Can You Use Normal Fertilizer for LECA Plants?
Regular fertilizers cant give a plant that is grown in LECA the nutrients it requires.
Since there is little or any soil within a semi-hydroponic setup, it will be deficient in nutrients and trace elements.
How to Fertilize Plants in LECA
If your semi-hydroponic planter has a lot of water in it, you can add nutrients to multiple batches. Do not overfill your container to avoid spills and waste of mixed nutrients.
Mix the powdered solution of nutrients in water the next day that you plan to drink water to get the best outcomes.
If the water level decreases due to evaporation, you should add fresh water since adding more nutrients can create an imbalance.
How to Choose the Best Clay Pebbles
Although the product is typically inexpensive, selecting a budget LECA product could lead to costly issues in the future.
Due to its robust and long-lasting properties, you wont regret spending more on this expanding medium for the first time.
What can you tell whether LECA balls arent good enough? Clay aggregate must be made using 100 percent clay. After being soaked, LECA balls shouldnt float.
The rough-looking clay pellets may have sharp edges and are not suitable for hydroponics. The size of the clay pebbles is uniform. essential if you want to aim to create a visually appealing backyard garden.
Do You Have to Soak LECA Before Use?
It is always best to make sure you use LECA that is submerged. The water-wicking properties of this medium are that it draws moisture away from the roots of the plant when it is placed in an empty container.
It is recommended to first wash them (avoid the risk of letting clay run into your drainage) and then let them soak for 24 hours before taking them out to soak in fresh water for another six hours.
If you have one with a lot of value, you could cook the LECA balls in your final soak to make sure they are sterile prior to use.
What are the Properties of Clay Aggregate
LECA is a broader but still hard and durable composition due to the use of rotary kilns to dry, heat, and then roast the clay pellets.
This process produces an even closed-cell pore structure which allows the clay to absorb a significant amount of water.
The clay used in the production of LECA is mixed and blended to create a consistent consistency prior to being transformed into pellets.
If heated, the mix of clay contained in the pellets expands slowly up to six times its size. This expands the clay and gives the LECA its lightweight properties.
Expanded clay aggregate is of zero nutritional benefits. Although it is not toxic, insects do not consider LECA to be suitable for habitation.
LECA has an acidic pH, is chemically inert, sterile and incombustible, and resistant to algae and chemicals.
It wont shrink when subjected to the pressure of constant gravity or under any other conditions. LECA balls are unchanged after their use, which makes them long-lasting gardening companions.
The LECA is insulated and keeps an even temperature over different conditions due to its thermal insulation.
Although it is not as important for gardening uses, LECA is also an excellent soundproofing material due to its excellent soundproofing properties.
How to Monitor Ph Up and Down
The majority of plants thrive in soils that are slightly acidic because it allows the plants access to the majority of the nutrients that are available.
In both semi-hydroponic and soil systems, the pH of your growing medium may change. What are the reasons to monitor your pH levels? If the pH is too high or low, the plants will not perform as they should.
This results in a decrease in their capacity to absorb nutrients and to grow healthy.
The alkalinity or acidity of your medium for growing is measured in units of pH on a scale ranging from zero to 14. The pH value of 7 indicates considered neutral. The majority of plants that are grown thrive in an acidic atmosphere with a pH of 6.5.
Each plant has its own preferred pH for soil that must be assessed prior to applying fertilizer to the soil.
With a basic testing kit for pH, you can test your plants individual pH levels effectively. Once you have figured out what your pH level is, you can alter the plants pH either up or down.
If your plants newest leaves turn yellow, this could be a sign of the presence of iron deficiencies. Because the soil is too acidic, the plant is unable to absorb the iron in the soil or in fertilizers.
What Are Some Good Hydroponic Houseplants?
Making a semi-hydroponic system for your houseplants is a perfect gardening venture for beginners. Start by repotting the houseplant you have already planted or transfer your seedlings across.
Herbs like mint, oregano basil, lavender, rosemary, as well as sage are useful and appealing to grow hydroponically.
Related: How to Care For a Fiddle Leaf Fig
Recipes for Hydroponics Nutrient Solutions
Making hydroponic fertilizers is simple to make and doesnt take too long. Are you short on time? You can purchase a Hydroponic fertilizer that is ready for use.
Plants require nitrogen as well as potassium, phosphorus, as well as a variety of trace elements. Here are two fertilizer options that you can make at your home.
How to Make DIY Nutrient Solution
The recipe has many components however it is very simple to mix. It is necessary to mix the following ingredients:
- 255g Potassium nitrate
- 198g calcium phosphate
- 170g magnesium Sulfate
- 43g powdered ammonium Sulfate powdered
- 113g of monocalcium phosphate
- 1/2 teaspoon iron Sulfate.
Simply add 10% of the solution to every gallon of water you require and check the pH before using. Houseplants have their own preferences however, they generally range between 6 and 7.
Be aware that the dry ingredients can cause irritation to the skin, so wear goggles and other appropriate protection.
How to Make Organic Seaweed Solution
This is a natural remedy that you can make a base recipe for. Its affordable and only needs two ingredients, including seaweed as well as Epsom salts. If you notice indications of deficiencies, it is possible to supplement with an already-made liquid fertilizer.
All you have to do is submerge six inches of seaweed in 5-gallon buckets of water. Wrap it in cheesecloth to stop the release of any sediment after letting it sit to dry in sunlight for five days.
Mix 5 tablespoons of Epsom salts. check the pH before applying the solution. Seaweed solutions are typically alkaline and should have an average of 7.