Hydroponics and semi-hydroponic growing methods are increasing in popularity among houseplant owners, and many monstera lovers are starting to grow monstera plants with LECA balls.
If you’re totally confused, here’s a quick rundown of these terms:
Hydroponics refers to any method of growing plants without soil. (Yes, it’s possible!) It often means growing plants in water only! Semi-hydroponics is a similar term that usually describes a method of growing plants in an inorganic growing medium.
One of the most popular and successful semi-hydroponic growing methods for monstera plants is growing in LECA balls. If you’re up for a new adventure with your monstera plant and struggle with overwatering, you just might fall in love with LECA!
Intrigued? We knew you would be!
What is LECA?
This is our favorite semi-hydroponic growing medium!
LECA balls are small porous clay balls used as a growing medium to prevent root rot, acidity, and pests. LECA stands for “lightweight expanded clay aggregate.”
LECA balls are very porous, which increases drainage and aeration to keep the roots healthy and the plant hydrated by retaining moisture from water.
The main downside to LECA balls is that they can dry out your plants. While LECA balls are great at assisting with water drainage and can retain some moisture, they have a poor water-holding capacity, and they dry out really quickly after they are drained.
If you tend to overwater your monstera, these might be a great choice!
Advantages of Growing Monstera Plants with LECA
Say goodbye to pests. Insects like the dark, damp conditions you often get with soil, but they won’t last long in LECA.
No more overwatering (or root rot!). LECA balls dry out faster than soil, so this is a great option if you tend to love your monstera to death by overwatering it! LECA balls are also sterile, so the fungus and bacteria that can cause infections like root rot aren’t present.
Excellent root aeration. LECA balls are very porous, so you’ll never have to aerate your monstera’s roots or worry about compacted soil.
LECA balls are reusable. You can recycle your LECA to use over and over for different plants! Just make sure to use isopropyl alcohol or peroxide to rinse and sterilize the LECA between recycling them.
How to Grow Monstera Plants with LECA Balls
We love LECA and we’re sure you will too!
Step 1: Prepare your LECA balls. Rinse new LECA balls with clean lukewarm water to remove dust. Then soak the balls for 6–24 hours until none of them float to the surface. You may need to use a heavy object to hold them down during this process.
Step 2: Transfer your monstera. Remove your monstera from its pot and massage the dirt from the roots of your plant. Run the root ball under lukewarm water if the soil is being stubborn. Then, add a 1-inch layer of LECA balls to your plant’s new, clean container (choose a waterproof plastic or glazed ceramic pot for this). Place your plant in the container and fill the remaining space with pebbles, then add another inch of LECA balls, leaving about 0.6 inches of space on top for water.
Step 3: Water and fertilize when the LECA dries out. When the LECA balls dry out, water and fertilize your plant. LECA is completely sterile, so it’s important to add fertilizer to your water to provide your monstera with nutrients. Monstera Plant Food is perfect for this!
Note: If you weren’t able to get ALL the soil off your monstera’s roots, you’ll want to remove your monstera from the pot the first 2 or 3 times you want and rinse the roots and LECA to remove any lingering fungus or bacteria. Don’t worry, you won’t have to keep doing this once the roots are completely clean.
You’ll find LECA in most garden centers and online. Give them a try and let us know what you think!