Leca is a growing medium, like soil, in which you can grow your plants. It is a collection of baked clay balls that expand when you soak them in the water! But when you use soil, it’s very easy to feed your plants, because the soil contains nutrients. Leca on the other hand doesn’t contain any nutrients. So you might be wondering: Why would you even consider using Leca for propagating hoya?
To know more, Watch our fun workshop on “How To Propagate Hoya In Leca” with our speaker Moumita Misra Das, a caregiver who started her journey as a gardener in 2018 to reduce her work stress and currently takes care of over 300 plants! You can learn more from her through her Instagram page:And her YouTube channel:
Moumita and her tips for growing hoya in Leca:
“Hello, everyone. Welcome to another workshop by TAOS. Today we have with us, Miss Moumita Das. Today, she’ll tell us about how we can propagate hoya in Leca, the benefits, and cons of Leca, etc. So, let’s start,” said Ishika.
“Hello, all. I started my journey back in 2018 when I used to work as a caretaker of aged people. There was a small plot there where I was given the task to do gardening with them. From there, I developed an active interest in gardening, and from there, I have made this entire current setup using grow light.
So, coming to what Leca is, it is an expanded clay aggregate that can hold water using its pores. They are of two types: one made of clay, the other of clay ash. There is no difference as such, except that clay ash has more pores and can hold more water. We need to consider that we need to give water up to a certain extent only; filling the entire container with water will lead to a lack of its growth.
I actually came to think about Leca when I had to lose a lot of plants in the soil due to my busy schedule. I have made my planters and my containers from waste materials or unused items. Now, we also need to consider the container for the plant carefully. You should always plant a plant in a container in accordance with its size.
I would also like to bring your attention to the fact that many sellers will tell you you can take a leaf of a hoya plant and keep it in water; it will grow from there. I have had a leaf of hoya for 5-6 months now, which hasn’t developed a bit. So, make sure you buy the plant along with a node every time, or growth won’t occur.
Other than hoya, I have grown anthurium, mekan, and various other plants that I have planted in Leca.
So, while planting a sapling in Leca, take a neck pot. Fill it with Leca about half to 3-4th of the container. Now, we also need to keep in mind that Leca lacks any form of nutrient. Hence you need to provide that separately. Other than the neck pot, you can make some vertical holes on the nursery pot and use that, or even glass containers. I have also grown caladiums in leca since their roots grow quickly. It grows well in cocopeat and vermicompost as well. However, I found that it is growing better in water. You will need to clean the container once a week, or there may be pests or algae. Hoya, for example, attracts mealybugs severely. So, I need to clean its roots, spray antifungals, 1% of tatafen in about 1 liter water, and then put it back in leca. When you are bringing plants from the nursery, they may have pests too. So, keep them separate for at least some time and check for the same before you keep them with your plants.
Also, plants sometimes die a few days after bringing them from the nursery. Before planting them in leca, wait for two days, and then take the plant, remove the soil, and wash the roots. You can clean it wait for a 0-point brush, and then plant it in leca,” said Moumita.
“How much water should we take in the container again?”
“This needs to be according to the container’s size. Never fill it to the brim. Leca can absorb the water provided to it. So, overwatering may lead to adverse impacts. Different plants of mine are kept at different levels.”
“Why do you prefer Leca over the soil?”
“Firstly, the problem of watering gets averted when you’re going out. Secondly, you can easily spot mealybugs in water which is not the case with soil. Also, we have small houses, and we practice indoor gardening. Soil may cause dirt and other problems, which again are averted using Leca.”
“Leca lacks nutrients present in the soil. So, how’ll you provide for the nutrients?”
“I use small granules similar to osmocoat which is available on Amazon. You can also use seaweed fertilizer for this purpose. Once in a month is enough for the purpose.”
“Okay, so after this, we come to how to propagate them. So, here we have a cumingana hoya. Now, if you are only given a leaf and asked to propagate, roots will develop, but you won’t get a new plant. So, we need to cut it from the node. We can also keep them in rooting hormone or directly put them in water and propagate them as well. When the plant develops few roots, we can transplant the plant in Leca. In places like Bangalore, people plant these in ceramic pots. However, here we have a lot of moisture, so we need to check for the proper container and everything,” said Moumita.
“Can we grow flowering plants and veggies as well in Leca?”
“Yes, they can be.”
“How much time does Leca absorb water?”
“About two to three hours. You can boil it before use to remove any dirt, or you can clean them using an insecticide container as well.”
“You had earlier mentioned that you clean the containers about once a week. Won’t the plant get damaged if you are moving it so frequently?”
“No, it doesn’t get damaged. Leca doesn’t get bound to the pot; you can easily bring out the plant from the pot. I have an enumrikata which, when I planted it in cocopeat, did not respond at all. Then I grew it in Leca, and it showed great growth.
“But are there no damages at all incurred? Also, do they not take time to adjust?”
“Yes, sometimes they do take time to adjust. Hoyas mainly face the problem of moisture. If we find any damage or any problem with the plant after transplantation, we need to cover the plant in plastic. For example, I have a hoya Lisa here. As soon as there was any sign of growth of leaves, they would dry up and die. I got to know that it had a moisture problem, and I soon covered it with plastic, and since then, it has been growing properly. So, this can be done to avoid damage to the plant.”
“I have seen that your plants are pretty dark, that no sunlight is falling on them. So, what substitute do you provide them?”
“I use grow lights on my plants, which I had actually bought to plant leafy veggies. There are certain variants, like pink light, which includes a greater concentration of UV rays. I am, however, using soft light for hoyas.
“How long exposure do you keep them in per day?”
“For about 10-12 hours a day.”
“If you’re going out for about a week, then how do you plan to water them? Won’t overwatering damage the plant?”
“Well, in that case, first we need to take out any remaining amount of water and then rewater the plant, filling the container with a slightly extra amount of water than normal. If the water even dries up till the end of the term, the plant would still keep getting moisture since part of it is present in the pores of the Leca.
“Some people think orchids can’t grow in Leca, due to excess water. I have seen them grow very well in leca. There is a simple trick for the same: only a little amount of water is added to it so that there is no moisture retention. I have also planted anthurium, in the lower part I have used Leca, and in the upper part I have used perlite.”
“Can we reuse Leca?”
“Yes, it is 100% reusable. We just need to boil it, wash it, in order to clean it and then we can use it again for growing a new plant.”
“Are there any drawbacks of growing in Leca?”
“Algae is one primary problem. There are great chances of the container getting infested with algae. The only way out is to clean the container at frequent and regular intervals. Also, there are great chances of the development of larvae of mosquitoes, so the water needs to be changed often. At times, though not frequently, root rotting can also take place.”
“Can we use Leca and soil together to grow some plants?”
“Not really. However, when growing anthurium or caladium, we add Leca to aeriods, since it provides moisture to the plant, and these plants like moisture. For proper air circulation in the soil also, we do sometimes use Leca.”
“You have used reusable pots for all your plants. Are there any specifications for the same? Any suggestions in this regard?”
“Well, for pots, a drainage hole isn’t necessary for the pots. It is preferable to use transparent pots and a low level of water in this case. We need to check various different factors like the climate, sunlight, etc., before taking any decision. We can use pots with holes, and it is important also in order to check for bugs.”
“Any last suggestions before we close this session?” asked Ishita.
“Plants like hoya will sometimes come along with mosses. So we need to clean that first before transferring it to Leca, otherwise, the plant won’t stay healthy. If it comes in cocopeat, then you can readily transplant it. Not all fertilizers can be used in water. You can use Osmocot available on Amazon for the purpose, or seaweed solution as well. So lastly, I would say we need to keep experimenting continually and often times it works wonders for our plants.”
“That was a great session. Thank you for joining us today.”