Hello and welcome to our guide to philodendron burle marx propagation in leca / hydroton / clay pebbles. They are a popular medium that are really cost effective, especially as they can be re-used.
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What Is Leca or Hydroton?
LECA stands for lightweight expanded clay aggregate. Also know as hydroton, or just clay pebbles, it is a growing medium that is used in hydroponic gardening a lot, but is also useful for growing houseplants.
Why Use LECA For Propagating Philodendrons?
Clay pebbles like leca are great for propagating as they keep the roots aeriated and moist. You keep the bottom of the leca wet with a little bit of water in the bottom and and the rest of the clay pebbles will wick the water up as they need it. This keep the roots moist without letting them get over watered or drying out which is perfect for most houseplants. It is also much cleaner than soil and it allows air to the roots. You can use a clear container and see visibly when the plant needs water (there should always be half and inch or a couple of centimeters at the bottom of the cup as the reservoir).
I love leca as I grow a lot of plants and I can re-use it after, if I move a plant on to soil. The plants do tend to grow slower than soil but you can use fertilizer to make up for it. There are lots of semi-hydro feeds you can use (I go into more detail in our guide here: How To Use Leca For Houseplants), or you can use a normal houseplant fertilizer diluted by twice as much (or more) as recommended on the packet, as it is not being diluted by soil but going directly into the roots.
Further reading: our full care guide: Philodendron Burle Marx Care. Plus be sure to see all Philodendron Burle Marx propagation articles here: Burle Marx Water Propagation, Burle Marx Propagation In Sphagnum Moss, Propagating Burle Marx From Nodes / Wet Stick, Burle Marx Propagation In Soil, Burle Marx Variegata Reverting.
How To Prepare LECA For Propagation
LECA is super easy to prepare. If you use it directly out of the packet it will likely make the water brown and cloudy due to the excess clay powder in it, so you need to rinse this off. I get a bowl and fill it with leca then fill it with water, then tip it out into a colander/sieve. I then do that twice more to get rid of most of the clay powder. Then I put it back in the bowl and cover it with filtered tap water, and leave it for a few hours so the balls absorb as much water as they can. Then you can use the balls to plant your cuttings in.
Where To Buy Leca Or Clay Pebbles
Tip: you can buy LECA or clay pebbles using this Amazon affiliate link (it helps our site out if you buy from this link, at no extra cost to you, thanks!).
Can I Use Tap Water?
I would definitely use filtered water. You can get white mineral build up on the leca if you use ‘hard’ water, if you live in an area of limestone for example. I use a Brita filtering jug to filter the tap water before use.
Tip: use filtered water if you can. I recommend something like a Brita (this is an affiliate link which helps this site out if you buy, it is much appreciated).
To Philodendron Burle Marx Propagation In Leca, follow these steps:
Take a cutting from your plant, make sure you get one node and one leaf.
Leave it aside for the cuts to heal over as you do not want water in open wounds.
Get your wet, pre-soaked leca and half fill a plastic cup with it.
Then hold the cutting in place with the bottom of the cutting touching the top of the leca, and fill in the rest of the cup with leca. You can do this with a second cup of leca and just pour it in slowly around the plant.
Then you can fill the cup with water. Ideally with leca you want to give it a reservoir of about half an inch or 2cm of water at the bottom of the pot, but I always start off by filling the cup with water so it starts to water prop the cutting. Then when the level drops down to normal levels, keep a small reservoir at the bottom.
Pro tip: if you have a lot of propagations to do, I would water propagate them all for a month to 6 weeks and then when they have already rooted you can move them to leca. The reason for this is not all propagations will work and some will die back. So you only want to set up the leca pots after them have rooted when some have failed.
Hope you found this article helpful, please get in touch via our contact page if you have any plant questions, we are happy to help.
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