Expanded clay balls are also known as hydroton which are also referred to as LECA clay. Hydroton is one of the most helpful and versatile growing media to any traditional and hydroponic power.

These clay balls are made by heating the clay up to 1200o C in a rotary kiln. They are an excellent growing media for any gardens due to their porous structure. Moreover, the expanded clay balls have small pores in them which makes them an ideal support media for a steady distribution of nutrients, oxygen, and water.

Benefits of Hydroton

There are many known benefits of these Hydroton balls in the horticulture growing.

Water Drainage

One of the biggest pros of these clay balls is the way it helps to drain excess water while still keeping enough nourishment for constant delivery of it to the roots.

Sterile

Hydroton balls are long lasting and inert media as they don’t have any nutritional values, they are just a medium to supply food and other nutrients to the plants. That is the reason, they help to keep insects and bacteria away from the plant during growth.

pH Neutral

These expanded clay balls are known to be pH neutral meaning they will bring no effect on the current soil used in your garden. So, you can mix with any plant solution in your garden as they won’t affect your plants.

Hydroton and Hydroponics

The method of growing plants without soil only by using minerals and nutrient solutions in water is known as the hydroponics. While for these obvious reasons, hydroton is the perfect growing medium as it is sterile, lightweight, easy to harvest, and transplant.

The only problem with this method is that it does not have a great water holding capability, so you will need to have a hydroponic system that irrigates water regularly.

Hydroton and Soil

In order to use hydroton clay balls with soil, you first need to figure out what your plants need for growth in the first place.

So, if you want the water to drain around the roots and aerate them then just leave the pellets there. You can also mix the clay balls with soil in a minimum of 35-70 portion (35% hydroton, 70% soil) then it would improve the water holding capacity of the mixture.

You can try adding these clay balls at the bottom below the soil layer to improve the drainage. While some plants need to retain water. In that case, you can break up the balls and mix it with the soil to keep plants hydrated for longer as you tend to it.

What You Should Not do with Hydroton Balls?

Don’t let these Pebbles Get Dried Out

The hydroton balls take many hours to get totally soaked. Once they dry up, they will start absorbing the moisture from the soil thus drying up your plants as well.

Sterilize Before Reusing It

These expanded clay balls are reusable which means they can be used for growing seedlings and cloning. However, before reusing them, make sure you sterilize them with peroxide or isotopic alcohol as they are very sensitive to bacteria and fungus.

Don’t Ever Use Hydroton Alone

Don’t ever use hydroton alone without the soil as they cannot retain water for long and will dry out very quickly.

Wrapping Up

So, these were some things that you need to know about hydroton clay balls or expanded clay balls. However, there are some other things that you need to understand like how to use them properly? And tips to use them. Although these clay balls are not only used in horticulture, they are even used in construction line as they are light in weight, fire resistant and an excellent thermal insulator