Monstera plants have fairly straightforward care requirements and can even be grown in LECA.
LECA, which is an acronym for Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate, is a growing medium that some gardeners are ditching their potting soil for. Growing Monstera in LECA makes watering the plant so much simpler, and even helps reduce pests and diseases.
So if you’re looking for something different from soil (or even from growing your Monstera in water), keep reading to find out if this could be your solution.
Can you grow Monstera in LECA?
Monstera can be grown in LECA. In fact, doing so is actually one of the most successful ways to grow this plant using the semi-hydroponic method. LECA is ideal for anyone who wants to try a new growing method, as well as for gardeners who have issues with overwatering their Monstera.
With that said, however, there are some benefits that soil has over LECA, the largest benefit being that soil contains nutrients, and LECA doesn’t. LECA is essentially just clay balls, which have no nutritional benefit to plants.
FYI: When you plant Monstera in LECA, they won’t receive any nutrients or minerals that plants naturally get when grown in soil. To counteract this, gardeners will need to add hydroponic fertilizer to the water when watering Monsteras growing in LECA.
Do Monsteras like LECA?
Monsteras do quite well when grown in LECA. In fact, there are several benefits that growing Monstera in LECA provide that soil can not. The main benefit of growing Monstera LECA vs soil is that you are less likely to overwater the plant.
Overwatering is a huge concern for gardeners, especially when it comes to this plant in particular. Overwatering your Monstera can result in serious and potential life threatening problems for your Monstera. When the plant is overwatered, it can start to experience leaf dropping, water blisters, insect problems, fungal diseases, and root rot.
Watering the Monstera in LECA is extremely easy, and you will probably notice you no longer need to water the plant as often. In most cases, you will only need to water the Monstera once every 2 to 3 weeks, though this will vary depending on the size of the plant and the climate.
What benefits does growing Monstera in LECA provide?
Since growing a plant in LECA greatly reduces the chance of overwatering it, the Monstera plant will reap all the benefits that proper watering provides. This includes being less likely to develop root rot and a reduction in pest and disease problems.
LECA easily absorbs water and then expands, which means no more overwatering the Monstera and no more root rot. Monstera root rot occurs when the roots are kept constantly wet. This problem can quickly kill any plant and is difficult to correct.
Using LECA instead of soil helps to eliminate the issues caused by overwatering. Furthermore, LECA is a reusable growing medium, and helps to cut down on plant maintenance.
Are there any downsides to growing Monstera LECA vs soil?
While LECA is superior to soil in many ways, it isn’t without its faults. The biggest downside is that LECA doesn’t contain the nutrients that soil naturally does. Thankfully, this can be corrected by using a hydroponic fertilizer that is added when you water your Monstera plant.
Another drawback of LECA is that you may not be able to use the same pots to grow the plants in. Most pots have drainage holes in the bottom of them that allow for excess water to drain out. If you are growing plants in LECA, you will need a pot without these drainage holes.
The initial cost is another thing to consider when deciding whether to grow the Monstera in LECA or soil. Potting soil is usually cheaper than LECA at first, and is much more readily available. LECA, however, can be reused over and over again so it can help to pay for itself in the long run.
How to grow Monstera in LECA
Growing Monstera in LECA is extremely easy, but does require reporting the Monstera plant into a new pot filled with LECA instead of soil. If you have a new Monstera that isn’t currently in soil or a cutting, you can skip the first two steps.
1. Remove the Monstera from its pot
Before you can plant the Monstera in LECA you will first need to remove it from its old pot. To do this, simply tip the pot to its side and slide the Monstera out. Take care not to damage the plant or its roots when removing it from the pot.
2. Remove the soil from the Monstera’s roots
Use your hands to carefully remove as much soil as possible from the plant’s roots, making sure not to damage its roots. Fill a bucket with lukewarm water and then submerge the Monstera roots in the water. Use your hands to carefully rinse off and remove the remaining soil from the plant’s roots.
3. Wash the old pot
Thoroughly wash and dry the old pot to remove any lingering soil. Even if you are using a new pot, make sure to thoroughly wash and dry it as well. This helps to ensure you are growing the Monstera in a clean environment.
Keep in mind that you will need a pot that doesn’t have drainage holes. If your current pot has these holes, you will need to find a different one if you want to grow the Monstera in LECA.
4. Clean the LECA
LECA can be a bit dusty when you first open the bag and will require a light cleaning. Simply wash the clay balls in a bucket filled with water. You will also need a second bucket filled with clean water that you can transfer the balls to.
Once the water in the first bucket has become dirty, transfer the LECA into the bucket with clean water and wash until that water becomes dirty. Discard the dirty water from the first bucket and fill it with clean water. Continue transferring the LECA from the dirty water to the clean water until the leftover water is fairly clean.
5. Layer the LECA on the bottom of the pot
Fill the bottom of the pot with a base layer of the LECA. A good general rule of thumb is to layer the bottom one inch of the pot with LECA. This helps prevent the Monstera roots from sitting in water.
6. Place the Monstera in the pot
Carefully set the Monstera, root side down, into the pot. Make sure the Monstera is in the middle of the pot with its roots touching the bottom layer of LECA.
7. Cover the roots with LECA
Fill the remainder of the pot with LECA, making sure that the roots are covered. You don’t have to fill the pot to the very top, but you do have to make sure that the LECA is covering all of the Monstera’s roots.
8. Water the Monstera
Once you have planted the Monstera in LECA you will need to water it. For the best results, you should add hydroponic fertilizer to the water. This is because LECA doesn’t contain any nutrients and the fertilizer will help keep the Monstera healthy and happy.
9. Add fertilizer to the water
During the Monstera’s active growing period, make sure to add hydroponic fertilizer to the water. In most cases, this will need to be done once a month. Make sure to follow the application instructions on the bottle.
Find out more: How to Fertilize Your Monstera So Your Plant Thrives
10. Care for the Monstera as you normally would
Once the Monstera is potted in the LECA, you simply provide the same level of care that you would if it was growing in soil. The plant will still need the right amount of humidity, temperature, and light to stay healthy.
Just keep an eye on the LECA and add water as the Monstera needs it.
How do you propagate Monstera in LECA?
LECA is a great growing medium for propagating Monstera, as it helps to keep soil roots from rooting in too much water.
- Locate a healthy and young leaf – On the parent Monstera, find a healthy and young leaf and then snip off the leaf underneath the leaf node. It is extremely important that the cutting has a leaf node as this is where the roots will grow from.
- Place LECA along the bottom of the pot – Fill the bottom one inch of the pot with clean LECA.
- Set the cutting in the pot – Position the cutting, leaf side down, into the pot and on the bottom layer of LECA. Use additional LECA to help the cutting stand up straight.
- Fill the pot with LECA – Use the LECA to fill the empty space inside the pot. The entire pot doesn’t have to be filled but you will need to ensure that any roots that grow are completely covered with the LECA.
- Water the Monstera cutting – Thoroughly water the cutting and then place it in a location where it will receive bright and indirect sunlight.
- Care for the Monstera cutting – Caring for the Monstera cutting is done in the same manner as caring for the parent plant. Make sure to place it in a location where it can get 65% humidity or above. The temperature will also need to be between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why is my Monstera turning yellow in LECA?
Despite all of the benefits that LECA provides, it does have its downsides, and yellowing leaves is one of them. Since LECA consists of clay balls, it cannot provide the natural nutrients that soil has. When your Monstera doesn’t get these vital nutrients, its leaves can start to turn yellow and even fall off the plant.
Thankfully, if your Monstera leaves are turning yellow and LECA is the culprit, this problem can be easily corrected by simply adding hydroponic fertilizer to the water before watering the Monstera.
Make sure you follow the application instructions and dosage amount on the fertilizer bottle. This will help ensure you are providing the Monstera with the right amount of feed.