What is LECA? 💦 🔮

Blossm With Us - May 31 2024

Fed up with overwatering, pesky pests, and running out of space for your plant babies? It might be time to switch things up with LECA!

🔮 What is LECA?

LECA stands for "lightweight expanded clay aggregate," but you can just think of them as tiny clay balls that are perfect for your houseplants! These little guys are an awesome soil substitute and are super popular in hydroponic gardening. They’re made from a mix of clay, brick dust, and leftovers from the mineral albite.

🌱 Can You Use LECA Balls for All Plants?

When changing over to a LECA growing system, it's critical to immediately monitor and tailor each plant's individual watering and fertilizing needs. Not every plant will thrive in LECA and gardeners have varied experiences with different plants. The key is to experiment with growing your plants in LECA.

🔥 Plants That Thrive in LECA

Alocasia Hilo Beauty - Plant mail from @texasaroids that I transferred into LECA

Many houseplants will thrive in LECA, including monstera, orchids, and snake plants. Some drought-tolerant plants that do not mind roots on the dry side may do well in LECA since the balls dry out faster than soil.

Try these plants with LECA:

  1. Philodendron

  2. Alocasia

  3. Jade

  4. Hoya

  5. ZZ plant

  6. Spider plant

  7. Begonia

🛑 When Not to Use LECA

Plants with sensitive roots, or those that can't tolerate standing moisture, or are very light or very heavy drinkers might not thrive in LECA and may do best in soil.

Experiment, but be cautious, when using LECA with the following plants:

  1. Pothos

  2. Prayer plant

  3. Stromanthe

  4. Elephant bush

  5. Ferns

  6. String of pearls

🤔 Pros and Cons of Using LECA

There are many benefits and drawbacks to using LECA when growing plants, all of which are entirely dependent on the type of plant itself.

👍 Pros:

  • Perfect Watering: LECA balls soak up water and release it slowly to the roots, giving your plants just the right amount of hydration and great drainage.

  • Pest-Free: No live organisms in LECA means no pests like aphids or fungus gnats.

  • Space Saver: Ideal for small spaces, LECA needs less storage than traditional soil.

  • Less Mess: No more soil spills—LECA stays put, though you might get a bit of dust initially.

  • Reusable: LECA balls can be reused indefinitely if cleaned properly.

Rooted Monstera Albo node can be put directly into LECA

👎 Cons:

  • Costly: LECA is pricier than soil, but it's a one-time investment.

  • Needs Cleaning: You'll need to wash new and used LECA to keep it free of dust and debris.

  • Fertilizer Required: LECA doesn’t provide nutrients, so you’ll need hydroponic or liquid fertilizer.

  • pH Monitoring: Regularly check the water's pH to ensure proper nutrient absorption.

  • Special Pots Needed: Use pots without drainage holes and keep them filled about ⅓ with water for best results.

⚡️ Tips to Get Started with LECA

Transferring your water-propagated plants directly to LECA ensures a seamless transition.

Ready to dive into the world of LECA? Here are some fun tips to get you started:

  • Pick Young Plants: Start with younger plants or water-propagated cuttings for an easier transition to LECA.

  • Keep Older Plants in Soil: Older plants might struggle with the switch, so it's best to leave them in soil.

  • Experiment: Test your LECA skills with less expensive or less cherished plants to minimize risk.

  • Prep the Roots: Make sure to thoroughly clean off all soil from the roots before transferring a plant to LECA.

  • Don't Forget Fertilizer: LECA doesn't provide nutrients, so remember to add hydroponic fertilizer regularly.

📊 Should we do a blog on prepping LECA and how to transfer plants?

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@westcoastfoliage is the winner of $10 Blossm Bucks by unanimous voting on his method of corm sprouting

@westcoastfoliage has a simple method - set it and forget it!

@westcoastfoliage: I just place mine in damp spagnum moss and then seal it up in a plastic zipper bag. Then I practically forget about it and just let it do its thing. For me, I always make sure to have the new shoot formation side slightly above the surface of the moss and have the rhizome side down. I keep the corm about a foot below a 50W Barrina grow light Panel running 12 hours a day and it seems to love it. I also rarely open the bag until I’m ready to start acclimating it, then I do that slowly over a week or so

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