In this article, we’re going to talk about what leca pebbles, also known as clay pebbles, are and how they can help improve the health of your houseplants.
What are leca pebbles?
Leca pebbles are clay pebbles that have been heated and cooled for the purpose of removing all unwanted materials while preserving nutrients. The clay is then dried in an oven to maintain a consistent moisture level.
Leca clay is essentially clay that has been cleaned and sterilized in order to be used for plants. Leca clay does not contain any herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or other chemicals which may have adverse effects on your plants.
Photo credit: Ley (admin team)
These clay pebbles have a neutral pH of 7.0 to 8.5 which is great because different plant types prefer different pH levels but it’s hard to get the perfect combination with traditional soil and compost mixes!
How are leca pebbles used?
Leca pebbles can be used as a stand-alone medium for container plants. But they’re usually mixed with seeds or small starter plants to provide all the nutrients and support that the plant needs.
When leca is mixed with other materials like soil, sand, or vermiculite, it’s called a “soilless mix.” These soilless mixes are often used in potting combination for both indoor and outdoor plants. The main benefit of using soilless mixes is the ability to keep the plants in your home, office or garden healthier for longer periods of time.
How are leca pebbles different than other mediums?
Aside from knowing that leca is often found in concrete walls, you probably haven’t heard much about this unique potting medium. Here’s how it stacks up against other popular materials:
1) Coco Peat
Coco peat is often referred to as a “bio-charcoal,” because it’s created when coconut husks are heated to high temperatures. Because of this process, coco peat has similar elements and properties to charcoal. It’s highly absorbent and retains water well, but doesn’t offer much in the way of nutrients or support for your houseplant. Coco peat is often used to help control the pH balance of soil and coco mixes, but it’s not a very effective fertilizer by itself.
It’s also important to note that coco peat can be quite heavy and bulky when fully soaked with water. This makes transporting plants and pots more difficult.
2) Peat Moss
Peat moss is a harvested plant material that’s made up mostly of sphagnum peat moss, dead grasses and sedges. It’s very popular in the potting industry because it reduces soil acidity due to its high pH levels. However, over time, peat moss breaks down and degrades, making it a poor long-term solution for your plants.
As mentioned above, leca pebbles are often compared to peat moss because they’re both high in pH levels. But unlike leca, peat moss is very dense and heavy. This means that soilless mixes made with only peat moss have a tendency to compact over time. This makes it difficult for roots to grow and absorb the nutrients needed for healthy plant growth.
As you might already know, soil is made up of many different minerals, nutrients and organic materials that help plants absorb water, sunlight and other essential elements during their lifespan. That means soil can provide the support and nutrition plants need to thrive.
However, just like peat moss, soil can compact over time when it’s mixed in a soilless potting mix. And because soil is often treated with chemicals and additives that aren’t always good for outdoor or indoor plants, you should avoid using it as an ingredient in your potting mix.
Vermiculite is a mineral that expands when it comes into contact with water. It’s often sold in bags and used for making potting mixes. Perlite is another similar material, but it doesn’t expand as much as vermiculite when wetted. Because they both help water drain well, perlite and vermiculite are often used as components in many soilless potting mixes.
But like leca pebbles, vermiculite/perlite can be very light and airy in texture. This helps keep the mix loose and more aerated for your plants. However, it can also require more frequent repotting as your plants mature.
Leca pebbles are also very porous. This allows plants to easily absorb and retain water, helping them stay hydrated over time. They’re also able to provide support and structure as your plants grow, making it easier for roots to access the nutrients they need for proper growth.
Benefits of using Leca Pebbles
1) Improved drainage and aeration
Because leca pebbles are very porous, they’re able to drain away any trapped moisture and help prevent root rot. They also provide abundant amounts of oxygen for roots to soak up, which helps prevent any fungal or bacterial growth that can cause disease in plants. As your plants grow, the soil in your pots will also have better aeration, which can help cut down on any root rot problems.
2) Lightweight and easy to store
Unlike coco peat or peat moss, clay pebbles are extremely lightweight and loose when dry. This means you can easily transport both plants and pots without causing strain to your back. It also means you can store more pots in a smaller area, which can help cut down on storage costs or space.
Leca pebbles are also quite porous. This means they can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, making them a great long-term solution for watering plants without the hassle of constantly having to fill up your pots with water. If you’re looking to lower maintenance costs while still giving your plants all the nutrients they need for healthy growth, this is another reason why it’s important to use leca pebbles.
3) No pests, weeds or disease
Because clay pebbles are made up of 100 percent volcanic rock, they don’t have any nutrients that attract insects, snails and other pests that can harm plants. They also don’t create the conditions needed for weeds to take root or spread throughout your soil. Because leca pebbles don’t contain any organic material, they help to repel insects that can harm your plants and contaminate their soil.
4) Healthy for your plants
Like soil, leca pebbles are also rich in essential nutrients that promote plant growth. But unlike soil, they won’t compact over time, which means they can provide steady support for years to come.
The porous texture of clay pebbles also helps prevent any over watering issues that plant owners sometimes have with regular potting mixes. Because water is able to drain quickly and easily through the soil, your plants won’t be susceptible to root rot or fungus problems caused by excess moisture.
5) Improves oxygen levels in soil
As mentioned above, leca pebbles are quite porous, which makes them better able to absorb and retain water without becoming compacted over time. This can also help improve the aeration of your potting mix, making it easier for roots to absorb nutrients they need for healthy growth. In pots with less aeration, roots can also become stressed over time because they’re constantly struggling to take in the oxygen they need for energy and growth.
6) Good for long-term plant use
As your plants grow into mature specimens, it can be difficult to find a potting mix that provides them with enough support to continue growing as they need to. But if you use leca pebbles in your pots, the support and structure helps roots grow stronger for long term use.
The lightweight design of leca pebbles also makes it easier to transfer plants from one pot to another without causing damage or stress. This can help save time during plant growth cycles and make it easier to provide your plants with the structure and soil they need without having to worry about damaging them or over fertilizing.
7) Suitable for a wide range of growing conditions
Because clay pebbles don’t absorb water, you can use them in pots that have both wet and dry soils. It’s also possible to use them with plants that require a more balanced level of moisture.
If your soil is dry but the plant itself is still moist, you can simply add water to leca pebbles before placing the plant back in its pot. This will help keep both the plant and soil hydrated for long term use.
8) Safe for pots and plants
Because leca pebbles are made from volcanic rock, they can withstand high temperatures without losing their shape. This means you don’t need to worry about the material melting if you use pots that place hot lights under the plants, or if you’re growing in a greenhouse where excess heat and light may distort the appearance of your potting soil.
When you use leca pebbles in pots, there’s no need to worry about the material damaging or discoloring your plants. Leca pebbles won’t lose their shape or integrity under heat.
9) Can help plants grow faster
Some plant owners also report that leca pebbles can help plants and flowers grow more quickly. The porous texture of the volcanic rock helps seeds to germinate and roots to expand freely, which makes it easier for them to take in necessary nutrients at an accelerated rate.
10) Economical solution
As a loose material, leca pebbles don’t come with the high price tag that you’ll find on many potting soil options. Because they’re lightweight and porous, they also take up less space than traditional soil mixes, which can help keep costs down as well. If you grow your own plants from seeds, leca pebbles can also come in handy because they’re easy to rinse and reuse for a second germination cycle.
The main drawback of using leca pebbles is that you need to dedicate a lot of time maintaining them. Because the material isn’t as dense or compacted as traditional soil, it’s prone to drying out quickly, which means you’ll need to add water regularly.
11) Can help plants breathe more easily
The porous texture of leca pebbles allows roots to take in oxygen from the soil more easily. This can help keep plants healthy and active for long periods of time, even if you don’t have a particularly large pot.
When it comes to using leca pebbles as a gardening material, they’re often better suited for houseplants than outdoor gardens. Although leca pebbles hold water well and provide ample support for roots, they don’t contain the nutrients found in traditional potting soil mixes. If you try to grow vegetables or fruits with leca pebbles, they may not develop correctly and could be more susceptible to disease or harmful insects.
12) More environmentally friendly
Because clay pebbles are made from natural volcanic material, they don’t contain additives or chemicals that can leach into the soil and affect your plants. The lightweight texture of the pebbles also means it’s easier to ship and distribute them without damaging crops or farms in any way. Many producers claim that the material is also good for both human health and the environment.
Leca pebbles are a unique and fun way to grow your plants in. They offer some advantages over soil for houseplants, but they’re not perfect either and won’t be right for everyone. We hope our article will help you determine whether or not to switch your plants from regular potting soil to leca pebbles then give it a go! You might find that you prefer this method of plant care. If you think about what we’ve discussed today, those few extra steps will help keep your plants happy and healthy from now until forever. Let us know how this goes – we’re really interested in hearing if anyone has had success using these nifty little things with their plants.