When searching for information on this subject, you will find there are several names it goes by: expanded clay pebbles, leca clay, and clay balls are all examples. It is made by heating clay to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit using a rotary kiln, which gives it that signature pebbly form. This process fills the clay with little air bubbles, making it perfect for holding oxygen as well as moisture around plant roots. It can be mixed with soil or used alone.
Leca clay is a popular medium because it has a number of upsides and only a few downsides. How those downsides affect you depends on your time, patience, and resources. A truly impatient gardener is probably in the wrong business anyway and should take up something more instantly gratifying. Like skydiving.
Benefits of Expanded Clay Pellets
These porous pebbles absorb moisture and allow for fantastic drainage of water from the roots of the plant.
Not only do they absorb moisture, they’ll absorb any nutrient solution you choose to add.
The pores in the pebbles, the space between them, and their superior drainage function keeps air circulating so roots get plenty of oxygen.
They can last a long time. Just wash and reuse as many times as you need. You don’t have to worry about losing nutrients through numerous washes because there aren’t any to begin with. If they lose their usefulness, you can add them to the soil of your outdoor gardens to increase aeration and organic content.
They’re pH neutral and rather inhospitable to bugs.
You can crush them to increase water retention for use in the germination stage of growing.
They’re inexpensive since they are cheap to make and can save you money reusing them over years.