Expanded clay pebbles, also known as hydroton, are a type of porous potting media made from fired clay. Used in hydroponics and aquaponics, they are an excellent horticultural substrate for growing plants. Their porous structure and ability to wick water and nutrients make them an ideal growing medium for plants.
Clay pebbles are also a perlite alternative made from natural clay. They are non-toxic, pH neutral, and environmentally friendly. Because of its porous nature, areas of space between the clay pebbles help your plants roots breathe and move around freely in turn allowing the roots of your plant easy access in taking up water and nutrients.
These garden tools serve multiple purposes in non-tradtional gardening methods like:
- They create the structure to hold up your plants. In the case of Coco and Seed Hydroponic Garden Kits, they help support the grow pod as plants begin to grow.
- They are porous and absorb moisture. As your plants begin to sprout and roots form, the nutrient water is absorbed into the clay pebbles. Your plant's roots will have early access to nutrition.
- They have a neutral pH. All plants have their ideal growing pH, these won't compete with their progress.
- Allows for airflow which is necessary for hydroponic growing.
Although clay pebbles can be a staple in hydroponic and aquaponics you can use them in traditional garden methods too. These same reason you may want to aerate the soil, maintain even watering levels, allow the roots to move freely through what could be packed soil, clay pebbles are very helpful in these cases. Because they are several times larger than perlite, they can aid in better aeration.
While it may go by many different names like, hydroton, hydroballs, or LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate) these balls of baked clay can benefit many types of plants. The high heat capacity of the balls helps to regulate soil temperature, providing plants with a stable environment in which to grow.
Do you use these in your garden? If not I hope you can see the benefits of these natural little wonders and give it a try!