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Smart gravel with plant in Leca

Growing your houseplants with Smart Gravel

Semi-hydroponics has been a popular topic in the houseplant community for the past year or two. Growing with semi-hydroponics means that you grow your houseplants without using any soil. One of the most well-known ways to do this is to use leca.

When you use Leca instead of soil to grow your plants, it's much easier to water your plants and you have less chance of pests and root rot. Leca is excellent for growing your houseplants, but there are a few downsides that you can solve by using Smart Gravel instead.

In this plant care guide, we're going to look at Smart Gravel and how it compares to Leca. These are the topics we'll go over together:

  1. What is Smart Gravel?
  2. Smart Gravel vs Leca
  3. The advantages of Leca over Smart Gravel
  4. The advantages of Smart Gravel over Leca

Let's dive right in and see how Smart Gravel can save you time and help you to take care of your plants.

What is Smart Gravel?

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Bag of Smart Gravel

Smart Gravel is a growing medium that's made of recycled plastic. They're small, hard plastic balls that are the same size as the Leca clay pebbles. These plastic balls don't absorb any moisture, won't go bad, and are easy to clean.

Smart Gravel doesn't absorb any moisture, so how can this help your plants? The biggest benefit of the plastic balls are that they're great at improving drainage. The balls don't absorb moisture and don't compact over time, so they're great at letting water drip down to the bottom of the pot. This helps you to prevent root rot and other overwatering issues.

One of my favorite things about Smart Gravel is the fact that it's made from recycled plastic trash. It's not only good for you and your plants, but you're also helping to reduce plastic pollution.

Smart Gravel is a product that's good for the planet, good for your plants, and great for your time management. Now that we know what Smart Gravel is, let's see how it compares to Leca!

Smart Gravel vs Leca

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Size comparison Leca and Smart Gravel

If you've read any other guides on this website before, you'll know I love using Leca. Leca makes watering your plants much easier than using soil. I'm a little biased towards Leca, so Smart Gravel has to convince me to be the favorite here. And it convinced me!

I've moved a few of my plants that were already growing in Leca to Smart Gravel to see how they compare. Now that the plants have grown in Smart Gravel for a little while, I've noticed a few differences with Leca.

These are the advantages Leca has over Smart Gravel for me:

  • Watering your plants throughout the pot
  • It's a little bit cheaper

And these are the advantages Smart Gravel has over Leca:

  • Ease of use with your houseplants
  • Cleaning the plastic balls
  • Reduces plastic pollution

Let's break down these advantages and see if Smart Gravel is a good option for (semi) hydroponics for you!

The advantages of Leca over Smart Gravel

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Plants in Leca after watering

Watering your plants throughout the pot

One of the most important things that I love about Leca is that the clay balls absorb moisture well. This helps you to water your plants more evenly, because the Leca balls keep a little bit of moisture through the entire pot. When the moisture is throughout the entire pot, you can have plants of different sizes in the same pot. You won't have to think about if each plant is getting the moisture it needs.

Smart Gravel doesn't absorb any moisture and lets it all sink to the bottom. This is great for plants that have large roots, because they will get their moisture from the bottom. But, if you have plants of different sizes in a single pot, the smaller plants might not be able to reach the bottom of the pot and won't get enough moisture.

Leca is a little bit cheaper

Smart Gravel is quite new and Leca has been around for a long time. Because Leca has been around for such a long time, it's gotten cheaper over time. Smart Gravel doesn't have this advantage just yet and is still a little more expensive. But, the advantages of Smart Gravel might be enough to convince you that it's well worth the price.

The advantages of Smart Gravel over Leca

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Alocasias planted in Leca and Smart Gravel

Smart Gravel is easier to use than Leca

If you've followed any of my other guides about using Leca with your houseplants, you'll know that you have to wash the clay balls before use. You have to wash them, because there is a lot of clay dust in the bags. You don't want this clay dust in your pots or in your hydroponics watering system. If you're using a lot of Leca at a time, this washing process can take you anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.

Smart Gravel is just a collection of solid plastic balls. You won't have to clean any dust off before using it with your plants. Since you don't have to clean Smart Gravel before use, you can pour it right into your pots when you've bought a new bag. This is one of my favorite things about it, because it saves me a lot of time when I want to repot a plant.

Smart Gravel is easy to clean

Both Leca and Smart Gravel are reusable growing mediums. When you're done with using it for one of your plants, you can reuse it for another without any problems. Before you reuse your growing medium, you need to wash it. There will be old roots and other organic material on the pebbles after you've used it.

Washing Leca isn't very difficult, but it takes more time. The clay pebbles have rough surfaces that hold onto a lot of things, like old roots. These roots can often grow into the clay balls and can be tough to clean off properly.

This is much easier for Smart Gravel, because it's very easy to clean. The plastic balls have smooth surfaces, which makes it easy to clean and no roots will hold onto it easily. You can reuse your growing medium for another plant much quicker this way. It's a real time saver.

Smart Gravel helps you to reduce plastic pollution

If, like me, you're very cautious about your use of plastic, Smart Gravel is a great way to help reduce plastic pollution. Arqlite, the maker of Smart Gravel, says that one bag of Smart Gravel is the equivalent of 7,200 energy bar wrappers removed from the local environment. That's a lot of plastic!

You can help your plants with a great growing medium that's easy to use, help yourself by saving a lot of time, and you're also clean up the plastic pollution at the same time. Reducing plastic pollution won't make your plant grow better, but it definitely helps you to help solve a huge problem.


Smart Gravel and Leca are both great growing mediums for growing your plants without any soil. As we've discovered, Smart Gravel is better for those of you who grow plants of similar sizes in a pot and don't mind spending a little more to save a lot of time. Smart Gravel is better than Leca if you don't want to spend a lot of time preparing the growing medium for use in your pots or watering systems. It's also a better fit for you if you actively want to help reduce plastic pollution while taking care of your houseplants.

Now it's up to you to decide which growing medium to use for your (semi) hydroponics setup. There is no wrong choice: they're both really great! Personally, I will be using both of them. I love the ease of use of Smart Gravel for my larger plants and the amazing water abilities Leca has for my smaller and mixed sized plants.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: hydroponics, leca, smart-gravel, growing-medium

Posted on: Jul 10, 2021 Last updated on: Jul 10, 2021

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