LECA is a popular type of substrate used to grow various types of plants, but can you grow pothos plants in LECA?
Pothos are suited for growth in LECA as the substrate provides a humid environment without soaking the roots in water. It also provides lots of small pockets of air, which is ideal for pothos plants.
There are a few things to consider when using LECA for pothos plants if you want your plant to thrive, and in this article, I’ll walk you through these tips as well as the pros and cons of using this type of medium.
What Is LECA?
LECA stands for Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate and is essentially numerous baked clay balls that form a substrate for plants to grow in.
These balls will absorb moisture and expand as they do so. They are capable of holding moisture for a long time, and the nature of the balls means that the substrate has lots of small pockets of air and good humidity levels.
Benefits Of Using LECA For Pothos Plants
There’s good reason for the growing popularity of LECA over the past few years.
Suited For Pothos Roots
Pothos require a well-draining soil mix that has adequate air pockets. In most cases, pothos soil mixes don’t actually contain any soil at all and instead use mixtures of organic materials such as shredded bark and coco coir.
LECA provides these conditions without the need for any soil whatsoever. It also promotes natural growth, as pothos are native to jungle environments in southeastern Asia where they absorb moisture from the air and organic materials such as damp tree bark with lots of space for oxygen.
LECA balls slowly release moisture over time, which means you don’t need to water them as often as you would with soil or potting mixes.
Free From Pests
Regular pothos soil mixes can attract pests such as spider mites, mealybugs and thrips.
LECA, on the other hand, does not attract pests at all. Baked clay does not contain nutrients that would appeal to pests, and since these balls absorb the moisture it doesn’t create pools of water that can also attract pests.
This is a great benefit as pests can cause all kinds of damage to pothos plants.
LECA is designed to be reused, which is a clear advantage over most soil or potting mixes that lose their nutritional content over time.
All you need to do is keep the LECA balls clean and they are fine to be reused again and again, which does help justify the higher upfront cost somewhat.
Just like growing your pothos in water, using LECA allows you to see the roots develop and grow over time.
This looks pretty cool if you ask me, but it’s also an easy way to check up on the root system and the overall health of the plant too. Problems like root rot should not be an issue when using LECA, but it’s always worth checking up on the roots.
Drawbacks Of Using LECA For Pothos Plants
It wouldn’t be fair to look exclusively at the benefits of LECA for pothos plants, so let’s have a look at the drawbacks (there are some!).
LECA is more expensive than regular potting soil or other pothos soil mixes. Usually somewhere in the region of 2 to 3 times more expensive the last time I checked the prices.
You also need to consider that it requires extra fertilization as the balls themselves don’t provide any nutritional value for the plant. You still need to fertilize a pothos regardless of the soil mix, but it will become more frequent when using LECA which will cost more over the long term.
Need To Keep Up With Fertilizing
If you forget to water your pothos and use LECA as a substrate it won’t have much of an effect for a while, but since LECa doesn’t contain the necessary nutrients for a pothos to thrive it will have much more of an effect if you forgot to fertilize regularly.
It’s still less work overall as watering should take place more frequently anyway, but you’ll need to choose a fertilizing routine and stick to it. I would recommend fertilizing twice as often as you would with soil, at a minimum.
Tips For Growing Pothos In LECA
Here are a few extra tips for growing pothos in LECA to ensure your plant thrives in its new substrate.
Add Water Carefully
When using LECA balls, the idea is to fill roughly 25 to 30% of the container with water (after the addition of the LECA balls).
The roots need to be suspended above the waterline, as they have the potential to rot if they are placed directly into the water. Consider using a large container to allow for adequate room.
Choose A Suitable Fertilizer
Since fertilizer will be the main source of nutrients for your pothos, you need to choose the right one.
Use a complete liquid fertilizer, also known as NPK-complete, which contains equal amounts of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. This ensures that your pothos will get all the nutrients it needs to thrive.