LECA is more than just Light Expanded Clay Aggregate. It is a Semi Hydroponic or Hydroculture growing system. Plant pots that work well as Leca Pots allow your plant roots to self manage their water and nutrients.
The LECA pot you use is an integral part of your success with semi hydroponic growing systems.
For Semi Hydroponics to work you need a well prepared non soil growing medium like LECA, A plant with clean roots (water propagations work best), a proper fertilizer, and a proper plant pot.
The Leca Plant Growing System:
Leca clay balls absorb and wick water. And LECA provides air to the plant roots. This helps avoid root rot.
Etsy has shops that screen batches of Leca to a certain diameter. Some Etsy shops even offer different semi hydroponic growing mediums for plants I haven’t found elsewhere.
I chose a randomly sized bag of Hydroton LECA from Amazon. It’s inexpensive and works great.
Once you decide which Leca you will use for your plants needs, you will need to choose your pot type. And your hydroponic fertilizer.
The LECA, fertilizer, water and pot work together to give your plants an optimum growing substrate.
Types Of Pots Used For Leca Pots:
Self Watering Pots.
The basic idea for planting in Leca is to put a reservoir of liquid nutrients under your plants roots while Keeping roots oxygenated. The Leca absorbs and distributes the moisture and nutrients to the plant roots. The roots take what they need. And get lots of oxygen to breathe.
The pot pictured above is a self watering two pot design. The leca is sitting directly into the liquid nutrients one third of the way up the inside pot.
The roots are planted above the bottom third of the pot. Do not plant roots into the liquid nutrient area.
When you lift the draining pot out the liquid the roots are undisturbed. This allows you to flush the pot And to take a look at the roots occasionally if your inner pot is transparent. Mine is not. I would have to uncover some of the roots if I’m wanting a close look at them.
Over time, The roots grow throughout the LECA balls and enjoy a mixture of oxygen and liquid nutrients that is just right for the plant.
Eventually, the roots will grow down into the reservoir and occasionally need a good trimming to keep them healthy and free of root rot.
Depending on your plant type. Some plants will grow happily in water. Others, not so much.
Self watering wicking pots:
As pictured above you put the clean plant roots into the leca in the INNER draining pot. Once the plant is planted in well prepared LECA it is ready to go into the NON draining outer pot.
I like these self watering pots. They have good drainage in the inner pot. And they come with wicks that go through the drain holes and suck up the liquid nutrients into the top pot.
The roots are intended to sip the water off the leca balls as they condense water slowly onto their outer surface. In this pot the roots stay in the pot above the reservoir.
The LECA will distribute the nutrients and moisture to the plant roots as the plant roots need them. In my opinion, this is the easiest potting system for semi hydroponics.
Watch Kayti Plant a water propagated pothos and a soil planted Monsera Adonsoni into LECA. She is using both of these two vessel style pots.
DIY Leca Pots:
I have seen many self made Leca Pots. The basics are outlined below.
DIY Single Vessel:
You can use any pot or Vase that does NOT drain IF you drill holes in it one third of the way up. This allows the LECA to breathe and transfer air, moisture and nutrients into the plant roots above the reservoir as they need it.
A DIY single vase (or liter size pop bottle) with holes in the sides can work for Leca. Many people choose an old vase, large jar or other single vessel for leca.
However, a single vessel jar full of LECA needs to be disturbed every 2 weeks or so when the pot is flushed out of the old fertilizer and salts.
This is tramatic for the plant. You have to unpot the root system to completely clean out the container. The roots are regularly disturbed with this method. Not Ideal. But many people can make this work with some plants.
Its also somewhat messy. The liquid can easily overflow the holes onto your table surface.
DIY Two Pot Systems:
Alternatively (preferably) You can also use an inner draining pot of any kind. A net pot is good, or even your original nursery pot will work if it is cleaned.
Just set it into a non draining pot with a nutrient reservoir about one third of the way up the non draining pot.
Etsy has many different set ups you can purchase for semi hydroponics using net pots.
A two pot system with an inner draining pot that sits into a NON draining outer pot of any kind is preferable to the single non draining pot.
However, you will have to make your own wicks if you want them. I have used shoe laces and they work well. or a microfiber cloth cut into strips will work. Place the wicks into the reservoir and arrange them up into the leca.
You do NOT want to submerge the leca pot into the nutrients over a third up the leca. You will drown the roots. So fill the bottom pot with leca to hold the top pot above the liquid nutrients.
The wick system will deliver the liquid nutrients to the leca balls and your plant. Or if the leca is partially submerged it will wick up the water on its own.
Where to buy LECA and LECA Supplies:
Follow this link to Purchase Leca Pots from Amazon. They have a good selection at decent prices. But Amazon delivery is currently not that reliable, I’m sorry to say. Hopefully it will get better with time.
Leca Pots and Supplies are also available on Etsy. Etsy shops have a LOT of supplies and options for leca, leca compatible pots, and the proper fertilizers for semi hydroponics.
I prefer the wicking pots for LECA like those you see pictured above. This set up has an interior draining pot with wicks extending through the holes in the bottom.
This allows you to adjust the wetness of the Leca for your particular plant by adding wicks or moving them up in the substrate to retain more nutrients and water around the roots as needed. It gives you the most control.
I hope this has answered some of your questions about which pots works well with LECA. If you have questions for us please comment below. We are happy to hear from you.
A few Plants That Enjoy Growing in LECA:
Most houseplants will grow in semi hydroponics. But epiphytes like orchids, aroids like the neon pothos and Finicky Calatheas are well suited to this growing system.
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