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Reusable Soil Alternative For Your Plants? Yes, Please!

Have you plant lovers ever thought about how easy it would be if you had soil that was no mess, and you could just recycle it for multiple plants? I personally am not a plant mom, and I would probably be considered less than a beginner when it comes to plant knowledge, but I do spend a lot of time around one, and I’ve picked up on a few of her tips and tricks. I figured in honor of Earth Day, this is the perfect time to share about the convenience of LECA balls

LECA, or lightweight expanded clay aggregate, is a newfound alternative for soil for your plants at home. To put it simply, LECA is clay balls that expand slightly when you put them in water. The best way to use it is to fill the bottom of your pot with water and the rest with the LECA balls. From there, they soak up water, and your plants can feed out of them whenever they need it.

As described on gardencraft.com, “the little open spaces inside the LECA and the gaps between the clay balls act as wicks or capillaries, drawing water up to the plant.” It's an easy way to avoid overwatering and your plant roots sitting in water when they don’t need it. With LECA, instead of watering the plant whenever the soil looks or feels dry, you just add more water to the pot when it runs out, and the clay balls take care of the rest.

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This is all great and seemingly convenient, but why would you switch out of your normal plant-care routine now? To answer that, overwatering isn’t the only thing LECA prevents. Because of the reduced risk of overwatering, root rot is also more easily avoided. Root rot is what can happen when the plant’s roots sit in water and don’t get enough oxygen. With LECA, the spaces between the clay balls allow for oxygen to flow freely all through your plant’s roots. 

In addition to this, when root rot is avoided, pests are avoided. Not only are bugs attracted to rotting roots, but they also love the nutrients that soil provides. LECA, however, is inorganic, and doesn’t carry any natural nutrients for bugs, and won't help them spread diseases to your plants. And, because the LECA balls are not "alive," they do not break down and rot, meaning they are reusable. Better for your plants and saving the earth… yes, please! When you are done with one plant (whether it dies or you sell it for some profit), you can just remove the LECA balls, boil and rinse them and repeat with a new plant!

If I still haven't sold you on LECA, there is more great information here. But in my opinion, it would make you and your plant’s lives easier if you switch from soil to lightweight expanded clay aggregate.

Claire is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, double majoring in Political Science and History.
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