If you are new to gardening, you might not be familiar with the terms LECA and Clay Pebbles. The word LECA stands for Light Expanded Clay Aggregate, a popular substrate among new and experienced gardeners. These baked pellets, also called Clay Pellets, Clay Balls, Aqua Clay Balls, and Hydro Pebbles, have a wide range of applications. This article will discuss the benefits of clay pebbles and different methods for mixing clay pebbles with soil.
What is Leca (Clay Pebbles)?
Clay Pebbles are manufactured by baking and tumbling pure natural clay within a rotating kiln at high temperatures. As a result, the balls are extremely light and porous and expand when moistened. As previously said, Leca is a substrate (or growing media) similar to soil in which plants can be grown.
Benefits of Clay Pebbles
There are various reasons why you might choose to use Leca for gardening. Some of the benefits of clay pebbles for plants are as below:
When it comes to harvest or plantation, drainage is a significant issue. Clay pebbles are excellent for water drainage in regions where there is convenience for healthy growing. Leca are perfect water absorbers; they capture excess water and store it for later use.
It protects the roots from being harmed by too much water. Clay pebbles are typically used as a base layer or beside plants to assist them in acquiring the right quantity of water and air.
Leca is a sterile media that is free of bacteria or contamination. So, mixing clay pebbles with soil can be a good idea for making a kid-friendly soil mix. While expanded clay pellets last a long period, they do not provide any nutritional value to the plant. They are mainly used as vessels for the other food delivered to your plant and have no nutritional value. As a result, they assist in keeping insects and bacteria away from the plant while growing.
Mixing Leca with soil, will not influence the pH of the garden soil. You can use it with any plant solutions and foundation you require for your garden without fear of negative consequences.
Plants might suffocate and struggle to grow under the soil at times. Clay pebbles are light and porous, allowing air to pass through and increasing aeration for the plant’s root system. Clay pebbles are made in such a way that they are light in weight and have enough space inside to absorb air and release it when the plants or harvest require it.
Clay, which is 100 percent natural and environmentally benign, is the essential material in producing clay pebbles. Soil and water are appropriately mixed before being heated in a high-temperature furnace to form small porous balls that are less in weight but have a variety of structural qualities.
Since no toxic gases or components are used in this procedure, the end product is also completely environmentally friendly. It has no negative side effects and is rich in minerals and natural elements that aid plant growth.
Long Life Cycle
The fact that clay pebbles last for a long time is one of the most astounding facts about them. You can reuse these clay pebbles to plant your favorite trees or vegetables several times. These clay pebbles make an excellent gardening substrate for growing without soil. You may always wash and reuse clay pebbles for plants unless there is significant salt deposition or organic buildup on its surface. Clay pebbles have no set expiration date; their lifespan is determined by how they are used.
How to use clay pebbles for plants
Clay balls can be used in a variety of ways for plants. In this section, we will discuss different ways of employing clay pebbles for plants:
Note: Before using clay pebbles, it is better to wash and then soak clay pebbles for an hour so that they absorb enough water.
- Stem cutting medium: Leca is a fantastic alternative to only using water as a medium for stem cuttings since the pebbles will stabilize the plant, give your cuttings more oxygen, and allow them to grow without being exposed to light, making the move to the soil easier.
- Humidity Tray: humidity tray or pebbles tray is a tray filled with pebbles and water. A pebble tray’s primary function is to provide houseplants with humidity.
- Plant growing media: Clay balls alone can be used as a plant’s growing medium. All you have to do is to place your plants into the net pots in hydroponic systems, then fill the pots with clay pebbles.
- Mixing Leca with potting soil: Mixing leca with soil is another way to use clay balls for plants. There are five primary methods for mixing soil and clay pebbles. We will review these approaches in the following paragraphs.
Mixing Clay Pebbles With Soil methods
Mixing Clay pebbles with soil can be done in five different ways. However, there is also one method for using it for hydroponic gardening.
Method 1: mixing Leca With Soil
Mixing Leca with soil is safe and will not harm your flowers or plants. Clay Pebbles can improve mineral absorption and guarantee healthier and faster plant growth.
Clay Pebbles will help keep the soil moist, supply oxygen to the roots, and lower the weight of the pot in general. Remember that if you want to mix Leca with indoor plant potting soil for flowers and houseplants, the amount should be between 10 and 12 percent of the total soil volume. But if you want to mix it with cactus and succulent soil. In that case, the amount should not exceed 5 percent of the total soil volume because cactus and succulents require less water and moisture than other flowers.
Note: Leca can help the soil retain moisture. As a result, excessive usage of them might cause cactus root rot.
Method 2: Leca on the soil surface
Clay Pebbles can also be utilized to cover the pot’s soil surface. For this purpose, you can use any size of Leca. This will enhance your pot’s appearance and help avoid water evaporation on the soil top. Another benefit of placing Clay Pebbles on the soil surface is that pests are eliminated.
Method 3: Clay Pebbles at the bottom of the pot
You can use Leca at the bottom of the pot instead of mixing Clay Pebbles with soil. You can use large and medium Clay Pebbles in this method to help drain the water from the bottom of the pot. This will ensure that your pot is completely dry.
Method 4: Leca on top and at the bottom of the pot
This method combines the second and third technique so that the plant can get the benefits of both at the same time. Place some of the Clay Pebbles at the bottom of the pot and then pour soil on it. After that, pour some Clay Pebbles on the soil surface so that the soil in the pot is between the two levels of Leca.
This technique is ideal for enhancing the pot’s appearance on the soil’s surface, preventing water evaporation, removing pests, and draining excess water.
Method 5: Mixing Clay Pebbles With Soil, pouring Leca on top and at the bottom of the pot
This is the best method for mixing Leca with soil. This approach has several advantages, which are listed below:
- The beauty of the soil surface
- Proper water drainage
- surface runoff prevention
- water evaporation prevention
- pest prevention
- reduction in the weight of the pot
- Increase in moisture absorption
- Proper root ventilation
Method 6: Using Clay Pebbles alone for hydroponic cultivation
In this method, Mixing Clay Pebbles with Soil is not needed. Pure Leca without additive soil is used for hydroponic gardening. Clay Pebbles are solely used for hydronic planting. They can be considered a decent soil substitute.
The following are some of the advantages of using Leca in a hydroponic system:
- Pest-repellent hydroponic cultivation
- Better and faster growth of plants
- water consumption minimization
- Optimal root ventilation
Clay pebbles are now widely utilized all over the world. The benefits of clay pebbles for plants are numerous. They are sterile, environmentally safe, and can improve soil aeration and reduce water drainage.
We can utilize this substrate in hydroponic cultivation or combine it with plant soil to take advantage of its benefits. Mixing clay Pebbles with soil can be done in five ways; which each has its own benefits. The main drawback of this substrate is its price.