Experiments in LECA

Like a lot of plant lovers, one of my favorite things to do is propagate my plants. Whether it’s to trim a plant and plant the cutting to make the plant fuller, or make a whole new plant, there are a lot of reasons to take cuttings from plants.

And just like there are a lot of reasons to propagate, there are a lot of ways to propagate plants too, depending on the plant. For the most part, plants can propagate in water, soil, perlite, etc. But, if you have been looking at plants online long enough, you know there is another trendy option – LECA.

LECA

LECA – which stands for lightweight expanded clay aggregate- are clay beads that are used to help plant cuttings stay out of water, while still be able to access it. This is definitely a great way to grow plants that is cleaner than soil, either for actual potting or if you have pets who like to get into soil. This can be a more expensive option for planting material, as it is an investment to switch from soil, but you can use any jars, glasses, or vases/planters you want to watch your new roots take form. You just need to abandon the idea of pots with drainage holes, as your plant needs to have that water in there all the time (and I’ll talk more about water later).

I decided to test out some LECA for propagating my Rhaphidophora tetrasperma (also called a Mini Monstera or Philodendron Ginny, among other things). This gorgeous vine is among my favorite plants. It grows quickly, so long as it has support – either using a mosspole or even a wall.

Mini Monstera cutting in LECA

About 3 weeks ago, I took some cuttings of my mini monstera (it had outgrown its moss pole and then some, so I wanted to work on creating a fuller plant) and decided to put some of these cuttings in LECA. One of the things I have learned about LECA, both through my experience and from my research online, is that the water level in your container is going to be important in LECA growth. While potting my plants, I put about half of the LECA in first, then filled up to that portion with water. Then I placed my cuttings in and poured the remaining LECA in the container. It drank up a lot of water within the first 24 hours, so I made sure to add some more water to it.

I lost a cutting that ended up rotting a little bit, but the others I have placed in the LECA have all done well so far. It has taken a bit of time to see growth on some of the cuttings, but those were also older cuttings towards the bottom of the plant that had older aerial roots. Fresher aerial roots, faster new growth.

Roots from Mini Monstera popping through the bottom of the LECA

This has been a fun, new way to propagate for me, and I can’t wait to see all of the root growth of these plants!

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma care tips:

  • Mine was outside on my east facing lanai, so it received direct sunlight a few hours in the morning, then indirect sunlight for the rest of the day
  • As I live in Florida, there is pretty high humidity which helped aid in the quick growth
  • I would water my mini monstera when the soil looked/felt a bit dry and would check the leaves to determine watering times, but in general made sure to water it once or twice a week – usually more during the summer months than winter months

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