Get a PDF copy
Home Plant guides The pros and cons of using Leca to grow your plants

Alocasias in Leca

The pros and cons of using Leca to grow your plants

If you're a plant lover, chances are you've heard of Leca. But what is it, and why is it becoming a popular growing medium? In this blog post, we'll cover everything you need to know about Leca so that you can decide if it's right for your plants.

Leca is short for lightweight expanded clay aggregate. It's made by heating clay to high temperatures until it pops like popcorn. The resulting product is a lightweight, porous material that is perfect for use as a growing medium. Leca has a number of advantages over other growing media, including reduced risk of pests, easier plant care, less week-to-week maintenance, and reusable growing medium. However, there are also some disadvantages to using Leca, including higher initial cost to get started, more work to get started, more restricted pot choices , and the need for special fertilizer.

In this plant care guide, we'll look at these topics together:

  1. Pros of using Leca to grow your plants
    1. Reduced risk of pests
    2. Leca makes plant care much easier
    3. Less week-to-week maintenance
    4. Reusable growing medium
  2. A summary of the benefits of using Leca
  3. Cons of using Leca to grow your plants
    1. Higher initial cost to get started
    2. More work to get started
    3. More restricted pot choices
    4. You need to get special fertilizer
  4. A summary of the downsides of using Leca

So, should you use Leca for your plants? Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of this growing medium to help you make your decision.

Pros of using Leca to grow your plants

Back to top

Plants in Leca after watering

Leca is an alternative way to grow your plants, not using any soil. It's a growing medium that's getting more attention recently and people are interested to find out what it's all about. Does it work for any plant? Is it difficult? Is it better than soil? These are great questions to ask. Let's go over the pros of using leca and answer those questions.

Reduced risk of pests

Back to top

As I mentioned before, there are several advantages to using Leca as a growing medium. Perhaps the most significant advantage is that it reduces the risk of pests. This is because Leca is sterile and does not contain any nutrients that would attract pests. Additionally, the porous nature of Leca makes it difficult for pests to establish themselves in the first place.

Another way that Leca reduces the risk of getting pests is that the plant's roots are less prone to root rot in Leca than they are in the soil. When soil is too wet for too long, it'll start to rot and it'll take the roots of your plant with it. This attracts bugs and other kinds of pests. Leca won't decompose, so root rot is less likely to happen.

Leca makes plant care much easier

Back to top

Sansevieria in Leca

Leca is great at regulating moisture, this helps you to consistently water your plant without overwatering it. This benefit alone takes one of the biggest challenges of taking care of plants away from you. The Leca will water your plant for you and all you have to do is make sure there is always water in the pot that the clay balls can absorb.

Your biggest challenge is now to give your plant the proper amount of sunlight. If you notice that your plant starts to change color in some way, you now know that this is due to sunlight exposure. When you're using soil, it could be a combination of watering problems and improper sunlight exposure, but one of the variables is now taken away. This makes even the toughest plants easier to take care of.

Less week-to-week maintenance

Back to top

Leca is also easy to care for and requires less week-to-week maintenance than other growing mediums. This is because Leca does not need to be aerated or watered as often as other media. Additionally, the evenly-sized particles of Leca help ensure that water and nutrients are evenly distributed throughout the media. As a result, plants grown in Leca require less attention and are generally easier to care for than plants grown in other media.

The only time you have to add water to the pot is when the Leca is no longer able to absorb any water or all of the water has been absorbed. This could take weeks depending on the time of year. With soil, you might have to water your plant every week. So Leca helps you to save time when taking care of your plants.

Reusable growing medium

Back to top

Another advantage of using Leca is that it is a reusable growing medium. This means that you can reuse Leca indefinitely without having to replace it like you would with other media such as soil or peat moss. Simply rinse off the old roots and debris before replanting in fresh Leca. This makes LECA an environmentally friendly option for plant owners who want to reduce their impact on the planet.

You can't, or rather shouldn't, reuse soil for your plants. Soil contains nutrients and if you reuse this soil and the previous plant has already absorbed all of the nutrients, there is nothing left for the new plant. If you don't use fertilizer, reusing soil is not possible, because there is nothing for your plant to eat. If you do use fertilizer, you might be able to reuse the soil, but what if a previous plant had some kind of pest and this is now in the soil? Your new plant will now also be affected. You can't really clean soil as you can with Leca unless you take some more extreme measures.

A summary of the benefits of using Leca

Back to top

For plant owners who are looking for an alternative to soil, Leca may be the perfect solution. Leca is a type of clay that has been heated and expanded to create lightweight, porous pellets. These pellets can then be used in place of soil to support plant roots. Unlike soil, Leca does not require watering or fertilizing, and it is also resistant to pests and diseases. In addition, Leca drains well and does not compact over time, making it an ideal growing medium for plants that require good drainage. With all of these benefits, it's no wonder that Leca is becoming increasingly popular among gardeners who are looking for a soil-free solution.

Cons of using Leca to grow your plants

Back to top

Alocasia Zebrina in Leca

While there are many advantages to using LECA as a growing medium, there are also some disadvantages that you should be aware of before making your decision.

There are plenty of reasons not to use Leca and instead use soil to grow all of your plants. If you've mastered the art of properly watering and fertilizing when using soil, there really isn't a reason for you to switch to Leca. Let's go over some of the cons and why you might stay with soil rather than switching to Leca.

Higher initial cost to get started

Back to top

One of the biggest disadvantages is that it has a higher initial cost than other media such as soil or peat moss. This is because LECA must be purchased in bulk and can be expensive depending on where you buy it from.

If you're an individual and want to buy a few bags per year, Leca will be much more expensive than buying soil. In fact, Leca is 3-4 times more expensive than soil and that can be quite a shock to some people. When you want to get started and have to get the supplies, it can feel like quite the investment and you might be wondering if this is all going to be worth it in the end.

Earlier on I mentioned that you can reuse Leca, so it does get cheaper if you start to reuse it more. But it'll only be cheaper after you've reused it 3 or 4 times. Of course, you might want to do the investment, because it makes taking care of plants much easier. The monetary investment isn't always the only cost in this scenario. Maybe the easier plant care is worth the 3-4 times higher price. This is something that's up to you to decide.

More work to get started

Back to top

Alocasia Zebrina growing in Leca

Another disadvantage of using LECA is that it can be more work to get started than other media. This is because LECA must be prepped before use by rinsing it thoroughly and soaking it in water overnight. Failure to do this can result in poor drainage and plant death.

When you're using soil, you can open your bag, grab the soil, and put it in a pot. This ease of use is very nice and definitely not something Leca is able to match. When you get a new bag of Leca and you want to use it for your plant, you have to wash all of the dust off the clay balls first. This process could take up to 30 minutes. That's quite a bit of extra work just to get a plant in a pot. If you're always very excited to get a plant home, get it in a pot, and place it in the perfect spot, this could be a drag to do. If you don't enjoy the cleaning process, it might feel like wasted time. Time that you could've spend admiring your new plant.

More restricted pot choices

Back to top

When you've used soil for a while, chances are that you have at least a few pots with a draining hole in the bottom. These pots are great for use with soil, as the excess moisture can escape and the soil will never be too wet for your plant. You can't use these types of pots with Leca. Leca requires a pot that can contain water without it dripping out the bottom. If you're in a situation where all of your pots have draining holes and you're looking into converting your soil-based plants to Leca, you will have to invest in a few new pots. It could be a tough choice not to be able to use a specific pot anymore. This is something you might have to think about before making the choice to convert to Leca.

You need to get special fertilizer

Back to top

Finally, because LECA does not contain any nutrients, you will need to use special fertilizer designed for plants grown in inert media. Without proper fertilization, your plants won't live for more than a year.

We've gone over the fact that Leca doesn't contain any nutrients and it's just clay balls. This means you have to add nutrients to the water you're using to soak your Leca with.

If you have used fertilizer on your soil-based plants before and you still have a lot of it left, you might want to use that fertilizer for use with Leca as well. However, this is a bad idea. When you're using Leca, you need to get special hydroponics fertilizer instead of normal plant fertilizer. Normal plant fertilizer is meant to be used with soil-based plants and not hydroponics. Your gardening center or plant shop might not have any hydroponics fertilizer, so you have to go to other stores or order from the internet. This might feel like a waste of perfectly good fertilizer and could also be a valid choice not to switch from soil to Leca.

A summary of the downsides of using Leca

Back to top

Sanseveiras on Leca

Leca is a type of lightweight aggregate that is often used in hydroponic gardening. While it has some advantages, there are also several disadvantages to using Leca. One of the biggest drawbacks is the higher initial cost. LECA is more expensive than other types of hydroponic media, such as Rockwool or coco coir. In addition, it can be more difficult to work with and requires special fertilizer. Another downside to using Leca is that it limits the types of pots that can be used. Leca must be placed in a pot with good drainage in order to prevent overwatering. Overall, while Leca has some benefits, there are also several significant drawbacks to consider before using it in a hydroponic system.

Conclusion

Together, we went over some pros and cons of using Leca rather than soil. There are great reasons to switch to Leca, including the reduced risk of pests, caring for your plant becomes easier, less maintenance, and you can reuse your growing medium. However, like always, there are also cons to using Leca, including the initial cost of Leca is much higher than using soil, it's more work to use Leca for the first time, you have more restricted pot choices, and you need to get special hydroponics fertilizer. All of these are valid reasons to use and not use Leca over soil and in the end, it's up to you to decide what matters to you. Hopefully, this guide has taught you something about using Leca.

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: leca, alocasia, sansevieria

Posted on: Jun 20, 2020 Last updated on: Nov 9, 2022

Are you ready to put your new knowledge into practice?

Get your own products from the links below and support us in our mission to help people take care of plants like this.

This page contains affiliate links. Support me and my mission by ordering through my links. Thank you!

Frequently asked questions

Does Leca work for any plant?
Yes, Leca is great at regulating moisture throughout the pot. This works well because the plant can now decide how much water it needs to survive. Because of this, you can use Leca for very thirsty plants, but also plants that should be kept in a dry environment, like a Sansevieria or Succulent. So yes, Leca works for any plant. The difference is that thirsty plants need to be watered more often, but that's the same for soil.
Is Leca difficult to use with plants?
Leca is very easy to use, but it has a learning curve. Once you've converted one plant from soil to Leca, it'll very a very easy and straightforward process. Leca is very easy to use, because you don't have to worry about watering your plant too little or too much. This takes one of the major causes for a dying plant out of the equation. However, you do need to maintain your Leca. It does need to be cleaned every few weeks to avoid a fertilizer build-up.
Is Leca better than soil?
There is a very short answer for that question: it depends. If you have trouble watering your plant, Leca is better. If you don't have fertilizer and don't want to use fertilizer, soil is better. So it really depends on your preferences. If you want less maintenance week-by-week, then Leca is a better option. If you don't want to spend an hour or two every few weeks to clean all Leca in your house, soil is a better option for you.

More relevant resources

You can find more relevant information about this topic here:

Pin this plant guide

More guides by Plant care for Beginners