Semi Hydroponics (photo: pinterest)

Semi Hydroponics. Do you keep hearing about it? Are you interested in trying it out but unsure where to start or overwhelmed because it is totally different from how you are currently growing your plants? Maybe you have no idea what it is about at all. Well what if I told you it didn’t have to be that complicated? You don’t have to suddenly convert all of your plants to passive hydroponics all at once. You don’t have to be an expert to use it either.

What is Semi Hydroponics?

The first question you might have is What is semi-hydroponics? Semi-hydroponics or passive hydroponics is a method for growing plants, using a soiless medium, The most common medium for passive hydroponics is LECA (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate.) Basically, clay balls that expand when soaked in water. This soil-less medium will wick up water to the roots of the plant when needed. Because LECA is inorganic medium, you will need to add nutrients to the water. It may seem like too much work to buy LECA and all the nutrients when you can just buy soil. Semi hydroponics may not be for everyone but there are several benefits for those who want to try it out.

Benefits of Semi Hydro

Prevent Root Rot

If you have a tendency to over or underwater your plants, you may want to try out semi hydroponics. In semi hydroponics the roots of the plant should always sit above the water level. The LECA will wick the moisture and nutrients up to the roots as the plant needs it, keeping the moisture level consistent. The plant will also only drink when needed, so you will only have to keep an eye on the water level in the reservoir.

The LECA also helps provide better airflow to the roots than they would have sitting in soil. Plant roots breathe oxygen just like we do. LECA provides a great environment for proper oxygen flow. While soil may be completely fine, there is greater risk of the soil compacting and restricting proper air flow to the roots. This combination of consistent moisture and oxygen flow to the roots will significantly decrease chances of root rot or dying from drought.

Water Less Often

Since the LECA only wicks water up to the plant when it is needed and this means the time between watering is extended. This can be a great option for those that like to vacation or even those that just don’t have the time to water plants often. Like soil, the temperature will still determine how fast the water is evaporated. So you may want to keep an eye out when temperatures are high. You just don’t want the water to completely evaporate. I find I only need to add water every 3-4 weeks. Some plant could last even longer. Just like soil, the smaller the pot the faster the water will evaporate. Try keeping an eye on your water levels until you can gauge how often they need water.


Another benefit of using LECA is that it is reusable. You can boil it, soak it in rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and it is good to go. Even if you accidentally drop and smash a pot, you can pick up the clay balls a lot easier than salvaging soil. If the clay does eventually break down and crumble you can use mix it into soil for better drainage. You can also use pieces in a pebble tray with water for those humidity loving plants. Who doesn’t love to reuse and recycle?

Saves Money

The initial cost of starting hydroponics may seem a bit high but the fact you can reuse LECA, so many times, makes it worth the initial investment. On top of that, don’t forget time IS money, The less frequent the watering and plant care, the more time you will have for other things. It will make being a plant parent a lot more manageable.

May Reduce Pests

When I first looked into LECA it interested me because I had just dealt with my first spider mite infestation. It was my first encounter with plant pests and I was already over it. I heard that LECA reduces risks of plant pests. Now, it may not completely rid you of pests but it may reduce the risk. I would not necessarily switch for this benefit alone as there is still a risk of plant pests.

Now that you know the benefits you probably want to know how to get started.

( Source:The Peculiar Rose)

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