Leca for plants is a trick for so many gardeners to grow their plants free from dehydration and suffocation problems. Leca pellets are beneficial to so many plants, so read this article to learn all you need to grow plants with them.
- What Is Leca?
- How To Grow Plants in Leca Growing Medium: An Easy Guide
- Tips For Growing Plants in Leca Substrate
What Is Leca?
Leca for plants is an acronym for lightweight expanded clay aggregate, it is made of clay pebbles. It is used instead of soil to grow plants, especially in hydroponics settings. While leca is not a new type of substrate, it continues to excite gardeners to grow crops magically using leca.
How To Grow Plants in Leca Growing Medium: An Easy Guide
Follow the easy steps below to grow your plants in leca:
– Needed Tools
The items that you need to grow your plants in leca is the substrate itself. You will need a plant-safe Acidic or Basic Solute, plants have different pH requirements, so you may need to alter the pH to match the needs of your plant.
Some hydroponics fertilizer, you need water-soluble fertilizer just like those used for hydroponics plants. Furthermore, a monitor for pH, you may need to buy a pH monitor so that you can monitor the water pH.
Net pot, which will keep your leca as well as your plants in this pot. Outer pot, which will be the pot in which you will keep water and fertilizer that the clay pebbles will absorb. Lastly, you need your Plant, which can be any plant of your choice is good enough.
– Prepare the Pots and Substrate
Begin by filling a third of the net pot with leca, note that you may need to add fewer clay pellets for plants that love a moist substrate and more for plants that prefer dry substrates.
Then, pour water into the outer pot: You want to make sure that the water reaches just above the bottom layer of the leca. Do not use too much or little water so that the plant roots can get just the right amount.
Keep the net pot in the outer pot: After filling the outer pot with water, keep the net pot in it. Make sure that the bottom of the net pot has contact with the water.
Wait a day or two: You want to wait a day or two until the clay balls absorb enough water for the plant roots. You can speed up this process by pouring water directly on the clay balls. However, do not forget about the water level at the bottom. Now, the substrate is almost ready. However, it is time to transfer your plants.
– Transfer Your Plant Into the Net Pot
To transfer your plant to the leca substrate, begin by carefully remove the plant from its substrate: If you were growing the plant in a substrate with soil, you have to remove the plant from its substrate. Be careful with the roots so that you do not damage them.
Wait until the roots are fairly dry: Rinse the roots with clean water and then wait for an hour or two until the roots are dry before you bring the plant to its new substrate. Place the plant on the leca: You only need to put it on the arranged clay pellets. You do not need to dig it in.
Cover the plant roots with more Leca: After keeping the plant in the right position, pour in more leca. It would help to use already-wet clay balls. Lastly, Fertilize the plant: Now you should use a fertilizer that can dissolve in water and is suitable for the plant to fertilize the plant. You have successfully started your leca journey, but you need to make sure that everything is going well.
– Continue To Examine the Plant and Substrate
Examination of your plants, especially when you just transferred them into the leca substrate is very important. You need to check if the roots are doing fine by raising the net pot to check them. You must check if your plant is growing fine and has the right amount of water and nutrients by checking its growth behavior.
You also want to pick up some leca balls and feel how wet they are. Note that the balls above the plant roots, especially those on the surface of the substrate should be as dry as possible. Finally, you should check the water or nutrient reservoir if there are pests in it.
– Fix Problems
There are some problems that you should watch out for and fix when growing plants with lece. For example when the plant showing signs of dehydration, you must be mindful and check if how the plant is not watered enough, it means that the water in the outer pot is not enough or does not reach the bottom of the clay balls. In this case, you should add more water.
Then, another problem is when the plant showing signs of nutrient deficiency. The latter means that you need to increase your feeding rate. Note that plants in leca require a lot of nutrients when compared to other plants.
Lastly, when there arre algae growing in leca. If you can see algae growing in your leca, it means that light is reaching the water reservoir below the leca. It can also mean that you are overwatering the plants.
If you can grow your plants with the instructions above as well as consider the plant-specific requirements, you should increase your leca plants with very few to no problems.
Tips For Growing Plants in Leca Substrate
To grow your leca plants with ease and become an expert at it, use the tips below:
– Start With Younger Plants
You do not want to transfer old or mature plants to a leca substrate. While it is possible to grow older plants in leca, they will require more care and they will need more time to adapt to their new substrate. Also, older plants have more roots, so you may damage a lot of roots during transplanting.
You want to start with young plants that can easily adapt to their new environment and spread their roots in the substrate quickly. More immature plants also show signs of dehydration, nutrient deficiency and other problems quickly, so you can easily detect and fix the issues if any.
– Learn the Specific Plant Care Requirements of Your Plant
Asides from learning how to grow plants with leca, you should ensure that you know how to grow your specific plant in leca. Different plants have their specific requirements, so if you use a general technique for every plant, you may end up with a lot of problems as your plant may not adapt to its environment.
You need to know the light and humidity requirements of your plant so that you will know where to keep the pot. You must be mindful of the water and nutrient requirements of your plant so that you will know the best water to water and feed the plants.
– Clean Your Leca Before Reusing It
If you have completed a growing season in your leca pots, you want to clean the clay balls before you use them for another plant. Remove the balls from the net pot and wash off any roots. You also want to make sure that the balls are dry before you prepare them for the next growing season.
Note that your following plants can get the pests or diseases of the previous plant if you do not properly clean the balls. Also, you should use clean and running water to clean the balls (no need for soap).
– Learn and Practice With Less Expensive Common Plants
While leca is suitable for so many types of plants, you want to start your leca journey with cheap and common plants first before you grow your rare plants with it. Use more common plants so that you can learn enough lessons and make the mistakes that you’d make without killing your rare plants.
As soon as you become an expert in growing plants with leca, you can then grow your more expensive plants with it. Please remember that the growing requirements of your common plant will be different from those of the rare plants, so you want to put that into consideration while changing the plants.
– Propagating Plants with Leca
Even though you are growing your plants on a special substrate, it is still very possible to propagate them. There is no specific method to propagate plants in leca. To multiply your leca plants, you only need to know the particular propagation technique of the plant itself.
If you will be propagating your plant with its cutting or shoot, you can start the new plant in leca or any soilless medium. You only need to plant the cutting or shoot in the leca so that the bottom part or roots can have contact with the fairly wet leca balls below the substrate.
Leca continues to gain popularity and acceptance because of its numerous benefits to plants. Here are some benefits of leca for plants:
– Plant Roots Get Enough Oxygen
While clay itself is heavy, absorbs a lot of water and can suffocate plant roots, leca eliminates the chance of plant roots suffocating. The leca substrate has a lot of air pockets between each clay ball, so the plant roots can grow freely and receive enough oxygen while extending.
Oxygen is very important for plants because, without it, plants will wither and die. This is why a lot of farmers and gardeners invest a lot of money to get just the suitable substrate for their plants. If you cannot make the best substrate for your specific plant, you should use leca.
– Plants Get Just the Right Amount of Water
Even though there are a lot of air pockets in the leca substrate, leca remains what it is – made of clay. As a product of clay, each leca ball continues to absorb water from its surrounding. This means that if you pour some leca in water so that there are a lot of balls above the water surface, each ball (even those above) will become wet soon.
How does this benefit plants? It means that you do not need to regularly water your plants when you grow them using leca because the balls provide just the right amount of water regularly. However, you want to make sure that the water reservoir does not run dry.
– Suitable for Almost Every Crop
It does not matter if you are growing house plants, fruit crops, flowers or even vegetables, you can grow your plants with leca. This is because even though leca is just made of expanded clay balls, you still satisfy your plants with other requirements such as water, nutrients and temperature.
Overall, you need to research the requirements of your specific plant because even though every plant can grow in leca substrate, they each have their different needs. You may also need to compare the growth of your plants in leca with those in regular soil to know if growing your plants in leca is right for you.
– Prevention of Pests and Diseases
When you grow your indoor plants in leca substrate, you eliminate the chances of your plants getting attacked by root rot, fungus gnats and other pests or diseases. This is because many of these pests usually prefer plants that are already suffering in a water-logged substrate.
A popular secret in farming and gardening is that you only need to grow healthy plants to prevent pests. Leca makes plants grow more beneficial as they get just the right amount of water, air, and nutrients. Therefore, pests will find it more difficult to attack your plants. Also, your plants in leca will never get root rot so long as you use the right amount of water and leca.
– Suitable Substrate for Hydroponics Plants
While you can grow any type of plant in leca, leca is best for hydroponic plants. Hydroponics plants are plants that you are growing in a hydroponics system which is a system that uses nutrient-rich solution instead of soil. In the method, leca is the most common substrate for plants because it easily aerates the plants.
You should consider growing hydroponic plants, especially if you are living in a place without access to a lot of sunlight. You can produce every type of root plant in your hydroponics system so long as you can grow them in the right (controlled environment).
– Leca Is Reusable
One of the coolest benefits of leca is that it is fully reusable. This means that you only need to buy it once and only need to buy more when you want to grow more plants. You can grow so many sets of plants in your leca so long as you prepare the leca for the next set.
Well, remember that you need to prepare your leca for the next growing season. Preparing the leca can include different processes such as washing the leca and removing the roots of plants. So long as the leca is well-prepared, the next set of plants will grow just as healthily as the previous.
– Prevention of Spillage and Mess
If you are growing indoor plants with soil, you must have known the mess that watering your plants can make. Watering the plants can either make soil splash or ruin the ground. Also, nutrients and soil can leave the pot when excess water is flowing out through the drainage holes. This can be dirty.
Asides from eliminating splashing and spilling of soil and water, leca also makes it easy to repot your plants and check their roots. When repotting your plant, you need to carefully rinse off soil from the roots. With leca, you can easily remove the plant from the growing medium and you do not need to wipe the roots.
– Expensive At the Beginning
To start growing plants with leca, you will need to buy a lot of clay balls, a net pot, and a larger pot without drainage holes. Also, you will need to buy a pH monitor as well as an expensive fertilizer for the plants. This means that you will need a lot of money to start the project.
– Requires Expensive Fertilizer
Hydroponics fertilizer is usually expensive as you need to use a lot of it throughout the growing season. This is not a slow-release fertilizer that can continue to feed your plants for a long time, so you always need to be regularly adding nutrients. Note that if you change the water in the outer pot, you must fertilize the plant.
– Reusing Requires a Lot of Work
If you have a hydroponics system or any medium that requires a lot of clay pellets, you may find yourself getting tired from the hectic task of cleaning the balls. You need to remove roots as well as scrub algae or dark spots on the balls, if any. Also, the balls are usually heavy to lift.
– Not the Best for Beginner Gardeners
If you are just trying gardening for the first time, you need to learn how to comfortably grow your house plants in the soil before you should try growing them in leca or a soilless medium. This will help you understand your plants’ requirements before you start growing them with leca.
– Not Ideal for Non-Hydroponic Plants
While you can grow your plants successfully with leca, you should use leca in a hydroponics system instead of a static pot. This is because the water and nutrients in hydroponics are well-aerated and the plants grow faster.
In a static system, you might encounter challenges such as unsuitable temperature because the water in pots usually gets fluctuates in temperature.
Growing plants in leca is fun, effective, and educative. Please take note of the following:
- You should start your leca journey by using young common plants so that you can be an expert before you use rarer plants.
- Remember to use only fertilizer that is suitable for hydroponic plants for your leca plants, as the fertilizer needs to be fully dissolved in water.
- When growing plants in leca, check for problems such as algae in the pot as well as a plant showing signs of different situations.
- Growing a plant with leca requires you to fully learn the plant’s requirements.
- Remember that you should wash your clay pebbles before you reuse them so that the new plants do not get pests or diseases from the old ones.
You are entirely ready to start your leca journey. If you get stuck in the way, you should come back to this article.
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