The Use of Leca in Houseplants
Plants can be grown on Leca without the need for soil whatsoever, which may sound strange to those who haven’t heard of it before. Why would plants grow without soil? Do they need some form of nourishment? Increasing the size and strength of plants requires nutrients, but they are not dependent on soil for this. Let’s compare the advantages and disadvantages of Leca and determine whether it’s best for you.
Pros of Using Leca
Plants can be grown without soil using a growing medium called leca. It is gaining interest recently as people wonder about it. How hard is it to use? Is it as effective as soil? Can I grow any type of plant in it? These are questions we often ask ourselves. Here, we will explore the advantages of using leca.
Reduced risk of pests
Because roots are less prone to root rot in Leca than they are in soil, you will have much fewer pest problems using Leca rather than soil. When soil is too wet for too long, it will start to rot and take all the roots with it. This attracts insects and other pests. Because Leca does not contain any live organisms, it won’t rot when heavy rain falls. Because clay balls are able to hold moisture in small amounts, roots are not overwatered. These two factors reduce the likelihood of root rot and thus keep pests away.
Besides spider mites, there are also pests that thrive in dry environments. Since soil is really good at absorbing moisture, the humidity won’t be beneficial to the rest of the plant. Because of this, it might be necessary to mist your plant to ensure it has enough humidity. In humid environments, spider mites and other pests are kept away and cannot be allowed to settle. The large spaces between the clay balls in Leca provide plenty of opportunities for the moisture it contains to evaporate. This helps maintain the humidity level in the immediate environment of the plant, even without misting.
Easier plant care
Water-regulating properties of Leca allow you to consistently water your plant without overwatering it, which eliminates one of the toughest challenges in plant care. If you leave the Leca watering the plant, all you need to do is keep the pot full of water so the Leca can soak it up.
Now your main goal is to provide your plant with the correct amount of sunlight. If your plants start to change color in some way, you now know that this is due to sunlight exposure. With soil, you might have to deal with watering issues and inadequate sunlight, but that’s one variable taken out, making even the toughest plants easier to care for.
During the last section, we discussed the Leca system, which regulates moisture in your pot and helps the plant absorb it at its own pace. Water will need to be added to the pot only once the Leca is no longer absorbing water or has absorbed all the water. This could take several weeks, depending on the time of year.
If you overwater your soil plant in the summer, your plant will feel dry again within a week or two. If you let the excess water escape from the soil, this will help prevent watering issues. You might only have to water your plant once per month if it follows the pace of your plant.
Leca has the effect of extending the maintenance interval.
Reusable growing medium
Whenever you use Leca, if you want to reuse Leca you have used previously, you can do so as long as it has been maintained and cleaned properly. You cannot, or rather shouldn’t, reuse soil for your plants. Reusing soil without fertilizer is not possible, because the plant that previously grew in it has consumed all of the nutrients, so there is nothing left for the new plant. Soil without fertilizer cannot be reused, as there will be nothing for your plant to eat. With fertilizer you can potentially reuse the soil, but if a previous plant had a pest and the pests have made their way into the soil then your new plant will also be affected. You cannot really clean soil like you can with Lecas unless you take more extreme measures.
The leca can be reused for as long as you wash it thoroughly before planting another plant in it.
Disadvantages of Using Leca
In every situation, there are advantages and disadvantages. If this was not the case, everyone would already be using Leca. There are plenty of great reasons to use soil to grow your plants instead of Leca. If you can properly water and fertilize when using soil, then there’s no need for you to switch to Leca. Let’s review some of the cons and why you might stay with soil rather than switch to Leca.
Higher initial cost
Compared to soil, Leca is about 3-4 times more expensive, and this can be quite a shock to some people. When you are just getting started, purchasing the supplies can seem like quite an investment, and you might be wondering if it’s worth it. Leca can be reused, so it does get cheaper as you use it more. However, it will only be cheaper after you’ve used it three or four times. Of course, it’s worth the investment since it makes growing plants so much easier. This is not necessarily a cost-based scenario. The ease of care may be worth the three to four times higher price. This is an issue you must decide.
The most important part of soil is that you just open the bag, scoop it up, and put it in a pot. The most important part of Leca is that you have to wash all the dust off the clay balls before using them. This can take up to 30 minutes. That’s quite a bit of time just to prepare a plant for transport. If you’re always anxious to get plants home, relocate them, and place them in the perfect spot, you may find this irritating. You might feel that cleaning is a waste of time if you don’t enjoy it. You could’ve spent that time admiring your new plant.
Limited pot choices
Usually if you’ve worked with soil for a while, you’ll have at least a few pots that have a bottom drain hole. These pots are wonderful as excess water can go down the drain, ensuring the soil doesn’t get too wet. These types of pots cannot be used with Leca. Leca needs a pot that can contain water without dripping from the bottom. If you have pots with draining holes and want to convert your soil-based plants to Leca, you will need new pots. There might be a downside to not being able to use a certain pot anymore. You might want to consider this before making the decision to switch to Leca.
Special fertilizer needed
It has been mentioned that Leca does not contain any living nutrients, so you have to add nutrients to the water that you’ll use to soak it. The only time you might want to use fertilizer on Leca is if you have applied it to your soil-based plants before. However, this is not a good idea. You will require special hydroponic fertilizer for your Leca system, not ordinary plant fertilizer, because it’s meant for plants that are grown in soil, not hydroponics. You might not find any hydroponics fertilizer at your local gardening center or plant store, so you must go to other stores or order from the internet, which could seem like a waste. It might also make sense not to switch to Leca from soil.
As we discussed the pros and cons of growing plants in Leca versus soil, we agreed that it is a great decision, especially because it reduces the risk of pest control, makes plant care easier, and allows for flexible use of the growing medium. However, using Leca does have some cons, such as a higher starting cost than using soil, more work required for the first time, more restrictions in pot choices, and the need to get hydroponic fertilizer. In the end, it’s up to you to choose whether or not to use Leca over soil, so you can decide what matters to you. Hopefully this guide has given you some insight into using Leca.