Leca Balls are known by a variety of names including: –

  • Clay pellets;
  • Leca Pebbles;
  • Aqua clay balls;
  • Hydro balls;
  • Clay balls,

or simply LECA, and are all forms of baked clay pellets.

Leca Balls are created by a process that involves heating to high temperatures and tumbling clay inside of a rotary kiln until it forms lightweight balls. The clay balls or Leca are remarkably porous and readily expand when soaked in water.

The substrate (growing medium) acts in a similar plant to soil. It provides support, moisture, and air to the plant’s roots and stem.

 

Aloe Vera grown in LECA Balls

LECA Balls are a popular substrate is ideal for traditional or hydroponic gardening.

Benefits of Leca Balls

Leca balls have many benefits, including being odorless, reusable, and eco-friendly.

Each ball holds four times its weight in water, and as the clay is porous, water and air move through the substance easily so the plant’s roots can breathe. 

LECA Balls deliver the Correct amount of Water Everytime

LECA provides the correct amount of water for plants to thrive and allows the plant’s roots to absorb water quickly without suffocating them. 

The baked clay balls absorb the water and expand without becoming overly saturated and can hold and release water slowly over time. 

Leca balls are a bonus for the gardener who has a demanding schedule, travels for work, or is heading away on vacation. Your plants won’t dry out and will continue to enjoy proper drainage while watering less often. 

The time between watering is dependent on the environment and heat, so ensure the watering schedule works for you.

Potting Mix and the Dreaded Indoor Plant Pests

If you love your indoor plants but hate the pests that sometimes come with them, as I do, LECA might be the solution.

Certain pests, such as aphids, thrive in damp soil that is rich in rotting hummus. 

Clay pellets contain no living organisms and do not cause pests. 

If you’re tired of dealing with ongoing root rot and fungus gnats, the investment may be worth your while. 

Reduce Storage Space Needs

Bags of potting soil take up excessive amounts of space. 

If you are not lucky enough to have a potting shed or live in an apartment where space is at a premium, then you’ll appreciate the low space needs of LECA. With LECA, you don’t need to have a multitude of different potting soils to meet the diverse needs of various plant varieties, as LECA is suitable for all houseplants. 

Less Mess with LECA

Most gardeners will agree that potting soil is messy. 

The soil spills onto your house’s countertops, floors, and carpeting. 

LECA is clean; you never have to worry about it spilling or overwatering. 

When you first open the bag of LECA, you might notice a little dust, but once you soak the clay balls, they become dust-free. 

Soil can quickly become depleted of nutrients, requiring you to repot the plant regularly.

LECA balls are reusable, and you just take the time to wash the clay balls thoroughly. 

Disadvantages of LECA

Nothing is perfect, and LECA does have some disadvantages, including: –

The Initial Set-up Expense of Leca Balls

Once you invest in LECA, you won’t have to purchase soil.

However, the initial investment is often steep. LECA usually costs approximately three to four times the amount of soil. The initial cost to make a complete conversion to clay pellets can prove costly, but in the long run, the pros usually outweigh the cons for most gardeners.

Must Purchase Fertilizer

Clay pellets contain no nutrients, so you need to feed your plants using hydroponic or liquid fertilizers formulated for your particular plant’s needs.

Remember, LECA only meets your plant’s air and moisture needs; it provides no nutrients.

New Pots and Cultivation Tools

LECA soaks up water, and a pot without drainage holes is required.

The water needs to be approximately ⅓ of the pot so that the clay balls consistently absorb water. You will also need to monitor the water quality and nutrients to ensure the pH level, and a PH tester is recommended.

Replanting with LECA Balls

LECA Houseplants

A diverse range of plants can be grown in LECA, but some grow better than others.

The best LECA houseplants have a fast-growing root system and include: –

  • Aloe
  • Orchids
  • Pathos
  • Bromeliads
  • Spider plant
  • ZZ plant
  • Snake plant
  • Coleus
  • Wandering Jew

 

When picking LECA houseplants, use younger plants because they will have a less dense root system. You can also use cuttings that have been propagated in water.

The root system of LECA houseplants grows differently than in soil, so the transition can often be upsetting for older or large plants when you move from potting mix to clay balls.

How to Use LECA Balls

Tips for using LECA Balls:-

  • Rinse the clay pebbles before using them.
  • Soak the pebbles for anywhere from six hours to 24 hours in water. The pellets will expand and become heavy, but the plants will readily work through the balls to utilize the water.
  • Watch for any whitish residue buildup around the top of the plant and pebbles. If you detect white buildup, rinse the plants and pebbles thoroughly with a pH adjusted liquid.
  • Select the houseplant you wish to plant in the LECA.
  • Fill the pot approximately halfway with clay pellets.
  • Hold the plant or cutting in the middle of the pot and balls. Start placing balls around the sides of the plant to hold it in place effectively.
  • Water the plant and clay balls slowly. The clay balls will hold the plant’s roots in place.
  • Place the newly potted houseplant in an area with the correct amount of light. The plant will slowly start to absorb water from the clay pellets at its own rate to meet its needs.
  • Water the LECA whenever it starts to dry out – remember to add nutrients to meet the plant’s needs. A liquid or hydroponic fertilizer is best. 

Enjoy!