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I LECA like that! Spruce up your indoor plants with LECA aqua clay balls

I LECA like that! Spruce up your indoor plants with LECA aqua clay balls

If you’re new to the gardening game, you might not have come across the term LECA before. LECA stands for Light Expanded Clay Aggregate and it’s a popular substrate with both beginner and experienced growers alike. Also known as clay pellets, clay balls, aqua clay balls and hydro pebbles, these baked pellets have a huge range of uses. 


Okay, first things first we're realists! What exactly are they?

Put simply, LECA is made by baking and tumbling pure natural clay at high temperatures inside a rotary kiln. As a result the balls are super lightweight and porous and expand when soaked in water. As we said before it’s a substrate (or growing medium), like soil in which you can grow plants. 


Our preferred brand of LECA is Canna Aqua Clay Balls, as they are manufactured from specialised clay that has low levels of soluble salt. This means they won’t leech salt and are particularly suited for hydroponic and aquaponic gardening (they're the best of the best).


Why do we use them and how can they be used? 

Due to their unique structure, LECA clay balls allow gardeners to control the level of nutrients and humidity their plants receive throughout the growing process. LECA clay balls are inorganic, have a neutral pH value, are fungus free and do not rot. This makes them an ideal growing medium, topsoil dressing, and drainage device for your plants.


1. Growing medium

While it may seem crazy, you can use LECA instead of soil to grow indoor plants. Unlike soil, LECA is a lot less messy than soil and is naturally neutral, making it a great substrate for indoor plants. These clay pebbles can provide an ideal balance of moisture, food and air for your indoor plants


Keep in mind however, that unlike soil (which is fully organic), LECA does not contain nutrients. This means that any nutrients your indoor plants need, will need to be manually added to the plant’s water using supplements. Luckily the porous nature of these clay balls means that they easily absorb water and any added nutrients.


How to use LECA as a growing medium

  1. Soak your aqua clay balls in a bowl for 12-14 hours in order to fully absorb water. 
  2. Select a desired plant (either a cutting that has been propagated in water, or gently clean all the soil from a plant grown in soil).
  3. Find a grow pot with adequate drainage holes or use a net pot (sometimes called hydroponic pots) and sleeve.
  4. Fill up your pot halfway with aqua clay balls and then pop in your cutting in the centre. 
  5. Hold the cutting in place and pour more aqua clay balls around the sides and top of your cutting to plant it in place. 
  6. Then you can add your water (top the pot or sleeve) until it's just under the roots of the plants. How they work is, the clay balls absorb the water, and the roots of your plant then slowly drink the water out from them as they need.. All while keeping the root away from the water.
  7. Place your newly potted cutting in a place that suits it’s light needs and allow the plant to slowly absorb the water through the aqua clay balls at it’s own rate.
  8. Allow the water to completely dry out before refilling to prevent algae growth. Once it’s time to refill, make sure you top the sleeve up with nutrient filled water (to just under the roots).

Choosing the right plants to grow in LECA

If you want to use LECA as a growing medium, start off by choosing indoor plants that aren’t too fussy. Choose a plant that:

  • Likes to dry out between waterings
  • Is able to grow a large root system quickly
  • Doesn’t mind being handled occasionally
  • Likes oxygen rich soil
  • Doesn’t rely heavily on soil to provide it with nutrients

Some great options include:


Once you’ve mastered growing these plants in LECA, you can experiment with cuttings from other plant species too!


2. Drainage

Aqua clay balls can also be used to support healthy plant growth by improving the drainage in potting mix. To achieve this, add a 4 cm deep layer of aqua clay pebbles to the bottom of the pot before adding your potting mix or compost. Their round shape and small size (8-16mm) provides a high level of aeration, extremely quick drainage and unrestricted root growth. 


Unlike potting mix and other solid substrates, it’s not organic, so it’s far less susceptible to pest, algae growth and plant disease. The extra space between the pebbles also allows for all-important oxygen to get to the roots, which eliminates the risk of root rot. 


3. Topsoil dressing

LECA can even be added on top of soil to protect your indoor plants. By adding a layer of aqua clay balls on top of your potting mix you can also greatly reduce the risk of indoor plant pests. LECA is particularly effective against fungal gnats, as they hate landing on and laying their eggs on inorganic material. This disrupts their reproduction cycle and prevents outbreaks.


Better yet, by adding aqua clay balls onto the soil’s surface you can lock in more moisture. By covering the topsoil you can shield your plant’s roots from heat and thermal shock, while creating higher levels of humidity beneath the soil. This is particularly handy in winter (or cooler climates) when the air inside your home can become very dry. As an added bonus, clay pellets also look super stylish!



Join the LECA revolution!

Whether you’re looking for better drainage, higher humidity levels, or a new growing medium to experiment with, LECA is your answer! The best part is, you can use them over and over again (just wash and re-use). Packed in a stylish calico bag and with free shipping Australia wide, you can shop our multipurpose Canna Aqua Clay Balls here.

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