How to Grow Snake Plants In LECA

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Yes, snake plants can grow in leca. I’m currently growing my teeny whale fin in leca, and it’s doing really well.

Ok, it hasn’t actually done anything, but with snake plants, I take that as a good sign.

There’s a common misconception that plants that like to dry out a lot can’t grow in leca, but they definitely can. They develop water roots just like other plants.

Is it easy to grow Snake plants in leca?

There are aspects that are easy and aspects that are difficult. They transition well (at least, the baby ones do – I’ve never tried it with a huge one) and they’re quite difficult to shock. The only thing that can be tricky is making sure you keep their leaves out of the leca (or leaf, in my case). Oh and some people claim that the pups struggle to push up through the leca. I’ve seen snake plants smash terracotta before, so I’m not particularly put off by this.

How to switch Snake plants to leca

I like to prep by finding an AWESOME spot my plant. Great light is a good way to keep them healthy, and keeping them healthy from the leaves to the roots (rather than expecting the roots to do all the work) is great for when you’re expecting a bit of root shock.

You can’t just whack a plant from soil to leca, AND from bad light to good light, so make sure you put your plant in a great spot let it acclimate for a few weeks BEFORE you make the switch to leca.

You don’t HAVE to do this. But it can really help the switch.

Here she is, my little snake plant project.

Step 1 – remove the soil

This is a tiny plant, so it only took a minute or two to get the bulk of the soil off the roots. Once I was done, I was left with this:

It has a decent root system and some nice rhizomes at the top, so I’m not too worried. Often baby plants are a little, er, lacking in the root department, but this one looks good.

Step 2 – clean the roots well

As you can see from the photo, I like to let mine sit in water. Snake plant roots can be a bit brittle, but they are tough, so I think it’s better to leave the roots a *bit* dirty, rather than risk damaging by going nuclear with a toothbrush.

Also, I’m lazy.

If you don’t think your snake plant has very good roots, you can leave it in water to develop them a bit more, but root grow well in leca so you can still go straight to leca if you’d prefer.

A lot of people like to wait until they have water roots before switching to leca. It’s really just personal preference. I do leave them in water if it’s a finicky plant, but snake plants are famously chill.

Step 3 – pot it up in leca

I don’t soak or boil my leca. I used to rinse it. Now I just use it as is. If the water reservoir is super cloudy when I add water, I’ll dump it in my outdoor plants and refill it until it’s clean(er).

Once the roots are clear (ish) pop it in some leca. I’m using a nursery pot that’s a bit bigger than the original (it’s 7cm/nearly 3 inches). it could have gone back into the nursery pot, but I have 50 of these pots and I need to use them for something.

Step 4 add a water reservoir

You could just soak the leca beforehand and use the shower method, but I like a reservoir. The little glass Gu pots work perfectly.

And that’s it. I don’t add nutrients until the next time I’m feeding my other plants for no reason other than…that’s the easiest way for me to fit it in. It’s worked really well. You can 100% add nutrient water to reservoir/water with nutrient water if you’d prefer.

I put this plant in leca 9 days, ago, so I’ve got it out to show you the progress.

The beginning stages of switching to leca can be a bit ‘one step forward, two steps back’, because old roots will often shed faster than new roots are growing. I don’t think that matters. All that matters is that roots are growing.

Here are the new roots:

There are others, but this side really seems to have taken off. I gave them a rinse under the tape, both to dislodge more soil and to get rid of any shed roots. This is what I was left with:

Often, these aren’t the roots – they’re the root casings. So you’re left with little stringy bits that still function as roots.

You don’t need to remove these – they’ll degrade over time by themselves but i like to keep bacteria levels to a minimum.

How to water Snake plants in leca

I just keep the reservoir more or less full. The top of the Gu pot is more or less a third of the way up the pot, which is perfect.

However, if you have a BIG pot full of leca, you may find it necessary to water the leca more often – especially if you keep it somewhere warm. The top of the leca can stay dry and it won’t cause issues, because if it’s too wet, you risk rotting the leaves.

As long as you make sure to run water through the leca once or twice a week (depending on where you live/time of year etc)

How to fertilise Snake plants in leca

I just add some nutrient water whenever I’m watering my other plants. This is NOT best practice.

If I do all of the ‘best practice’ leca stuff, it gets a bit prescriptive and subsequently overwhelming. I’ve had plants in leca for years and my ad-hoc method works fine.

However, I appreciate that this will horrify people who like to do things properly, so for those people:

  1. Flush the leca monthly. Just rinse it thoroughly with plain water
  2. After you’ve flushed, fill the reservoir with nutrient water
  3. Top up with plain water throughout the month as required

You’ll need to use a hydroponic fertiliser – I like the General Hydroponics Flora grow. You need to use a hydroponic fertiliser because it contains all of the micronutrients and macronutrints plants require. Soil fertilisers have some of the nutrients, but not all, because you can get certain nutrients from the soil.

Which is better for Snake plants: soil or leca?

There is no definitive answer here, other than whichever allows you to take of it best.

Leca isn’t going hinder your snake plant’s growth, but it’s not going to dramatically improve it either UNLESS you really love/hate leca.

Can Snake plants grow hydroponically?

Snake plants CAN grow hydroponically, but it’s not something I recommend unless you have a game plan of how you’ll keep them upright. If you have some kind of mesh platform, or way if suspending them above the water, then go for it, but otherwise…I wouldn’t bother.

Final thoughts

Snake plants grow well in leca, but I would recommend starting with a healthy plant. I definitely have used leca as a last-ditch attempt to save a dying houseplant, but it’s got a 50% success rate, and that’s probably being optimistic.

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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