By Angelica Bottaro
Taking care of a garden is serious business. It’s so serious, in fact, that people who haven’t dabbled in the art of keeping plant life alive may look at the growing hobby and think that it’s the easiest thing in the world. In reality, very few things are as complicated as keeping houseplants alive. Simply ask any of your friends that splurged on some greenery to nature up their home space only to realise weeks later that their plant friends were not okay.
Plants need optimal temperatures, sunlight, water, and of course, a good, solid foundation to grow in. If they don’t have the proper foundation, they simply will not get everything that they need to grow big and strong in their new home. One such ingredient that is often used to help keep plants alive is soil—and there are so many different kinds that even choosing that is an overwhelming process.
The nutrients in various soils help build that solid foundation for your plants, but what if you didn’t need to use soil at all? There’s a new player in town called LECA. But what exactly is LECA, and what do you need to know about it to keep your plants alive?
What’s The Difference Between LECA And Soil?
Both LECA and soil are different growing mediums that you can use to keep your natural friends happy and thriving in their environments. However, the two are not one and the same. Soil, the dirt you usually see all plants growing in, is somewhat of a storehouse for everything your green buddies need to survive. It houses nutrients, organic matter, air, and water. It is pretty cool considering all that it does and the fact that if you take care of it properly, it gets better with age.
LECA, on the other hand, is another type of growing medium that isn’t made of soil at all. It is made of baked clay that has been turned into balls, hence the name. LECA is an acronym, which stands for lightweight expanded clay aggregate. The issue with it versus soil is that LECA doesn’t contain any of the needed nutrients found in soil. So, if there are no nutrients in it at all, how could they possibly be suitable for your plants?
What Are The Pros Of Using LECA?
There are many good reasons why making the switch to LECA will keep your plant friends happy.
The roots of your plants are way less likely to go through root rot, which is basically a plant disease that can kill them. It often happens underneath the soil when there’s too much water. The rotting stench of your plant’s life force draining from its roots is something that attracts those pesky bugs because it smells like a 5-course dinner at a fancy restaurant for them. LECA, on the other hand, soaks up all the water, so root rot is a non-issue.
LECA Takes (Some) Hardship Out Of Plant Care
Taking care of plants is challenging. Because LECA has this incredible ability to regulate moisture, it also keeps giving plants the water they need without overdoing it. That means that no matter how much water you pour into the planter, your plants won’t drown. They’ll just slowly sip it up until you refill it again, and the cycle continues. You also won’t have to water as much, and they could end up going weeks without needing a drop, making maintenance pretty low.
It can be used repeatedly as long as you clean and maintain it properly, unlike soil where nutrient depletion happens and your plants try to eat from an empty pot, so to speak.
What Are The Cons Of Using LECA?
Now, onto the negatives of using LECA instead of soil. The first downside is obviously the lack of nutrients. Because there isn’t anything to feed your plants in it, you’ll also have to invest in fertiliser, so the poor things don’t starve to death. Not only that, it has to be a special hydroponics fertiliser.
LECA is also almost four times the price of soil, so you’re going to have to shell out a decent amount of cash to get started with this new plant grower. If your pots have holes, you can’t use them as moisture escapes, so getting new pots for your plants adds to the expense. Initially, there is a time cost because you have to wash all the clay balls properly before even thinking about giving your plant a new LECA-based home.
So, there you have it. The LECA versus soil jury is still out. But if it were up to me, I’d probably still use soil. LECA seems like too much time, and money is involved in making it actually worth your while.