LECA has quickly become a beloved growing medium for plant lovers and house planters. House planters and hydroponic farmers consider it essentials for healthy plants. And indeed, LECA has garnered rightful popularity due to the use and benefits it provides. This article will take you through the buzzword LECA, the benefits of Leca for plants and much more.
What is Leca?
LECA is an acronym for Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate. LECA or expanded clay is a growing medium used instead of soil or potting mix for growing plants. As given in the abbreviation itself, LECAs are small balls or pebbles made with clay soil.
The clay balls are made up of natural clay soil which is eco-friendly and non-toxic. The clay balls function by absorbing water and giving water to the plants. However, the clay balls do not have any nutrients, unlike soil. For the nutrients that the plants require, one needs to add nutrients into the clay balls separately.
How are Leca made?
Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate is made up of clay soil. The clay is heated up or baked in a rotary kiln and heated to around 1,200 degrees Celsius. On heating the clay, numerous bubbles are formed, producing the honeycomb structure in the clay balls. This structure helps absorb the water and retain moisture.
Why is LECA useful for plants?
The fact that LECA has gained so much popularity and use is proof of its benefits. If you are doubtful of its benefits for your plants, this article will surprise you with the number of benefits it offers. Let us look into what it offers.
Checks on overwatering
Plants are delicate, and their needs need to be attended to carefully. More first-time home planters and even regular plant parents are often guilty of overwatering the plants at home. Unregulated water supply is often the leading cause of dead home plants next to unwatered plants death.
LECA clay balls help regulate how much water the plant requires. While planting using LECA balls, the roots of the plants do not reach the bottom, where it is constantly supplied with water. The clay balls absorb the water, and the roots absorb moisture from the clay balls as per their requirement.
You can quickly know if the plants require water as per the clay ball’s moisture level. Even if you add more water, the clay balls will absorb the water, and the plant will take water as and when it needs it. It regulates the water supply to the plants and does not overwater your plants. LECA helps get the right amount of water to your plants.
Room for airflow and oxygen
LECA is used as a growth agent for plants, and it does so by allowing passage of airflow and supply of oxygen. When you plant using LECA clay balls, the space between the balls allows the free flow of air through the roots and also the supply of oxygen. The clay balls beside the space between them also have air pockets inside the balls, allowing further oxygen supply to the plants. The regulated supply of water and oxygen gives the plants a healthy environment to flourish and thrive.
Reduces the chance of rotten roots
Plants often fall victim to rotten roots due to the lack of oxygen, and the lack of oxygen causes roots to decay or rot quickly. As mentioned above, planting using LECA clay balls allows the oxygen to reach the roots, as the space between the balls allows unrestricted airflow. Hence, it helps your plants thrive.
Reduces the growth of pests, bacteria and fungus
As the LECA clay balls absorb the water and store them for the plants, there is no water left in the bottom. This means the roots of plants do not rot due to proper oxygenation and airflow. Rotten roots attract pests and bugs that become a nuisance for the plants and us. The ample oxygen flow through the clay balls helps reduce bacteria and fungus in the plants, if not prevent it.
Checking your plants get easier
Another perk of planting on LECA clay balls is that you can check on your plants quickly. Growing plants on soil mean you cannot check on the progress of the roots regularly unless you dig the ground to check. However, while planting on LECA clay balls, you can easily see the roots’ growth without digging the ground. LECA balls make the task of caring for and tending to the plants easy.
Ensure the complete supply of nutrients to the plants
Using LECA clay balls ensures the full supply of nutrients to your plants. The clay balls do not have any nutrients, except they are excellent absorbents of water. The nutrients mixed with the water for the plants get absorbed by the clay balls, and the plants take water from the clay balls. While doing so, nutrients are directly supplied to the plants. So you can be assured your plants are getting their necessary nutrients.
Why does using LECA make sense to you?
Besides the number of benefits LECA provides your plants, it also has tonnes of benefits for you. Here is a list of reasons why using LECA makes sense.
Easy to manage
As plant parents and lovers, we all know how messy it gets when repotting your plants or changing the soil of your plants. Unless you have an outdoor space, doing so inside the house is a messy affair. LECA clay balls are easy to manage. They are easy to use and change without any hassle. It does not create a mess like soil does while repotting to changing the clay.
Uses less space for storage
There is always a clutter of different soil bags taking up space at your garage or the garden store. With LECA, you do not have a variety of variants, so storage is easy. It takes less space for storing and is excellent for people who have small apartments or homes.
LECA is Reusable
LECA clay balls are reusable. Unlike soil that needs to be changed with new ones after it loses its nutrients, LECA clay does not need to be changed repeatedly. It can be used over and over again. Since it is an absorbing agent, it can be used repeatedly without buying new ones.
Its reusable property makes it an inexpensive investment. Indeed changing to LECA at first might be a little expensive, but it is a worthwhile investment. Since it can be used repeatedly, one-time investments last for a long time. Growing plants on soil require a timely change of soil which can be an expensive affair.
What makes even more sense in using LECA is that it is environmentally friendly. Its reusable and recyclable properties ensure that it does not affect the environment. If you are someone who is environmentally very conscious, you can rest assured of using LECA.
Initially, starting to grow plants using LECA might be a pinch on your pocket as you will have to buy new pots and equipment. However, using the same can yield more benefits for you in the long run. The benefits it delivers for your plants, and you outweigh more than what you spend initially.