Planet Houseplant’s Guide to Growing Monstera Deliciosa In LECA

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I think Monstera can grow really well in LECA, and they’re one of the easier plants to transfer so they’re great for beginners BUT they’re big climbers and you need a game plan for keeping them propped up from the outset.

Otherwise, they’ll collapse and either look very sad and droopy or snap in half completely.

Do Monstera do well in leca?

Yes. Monstera have big, thick roots that don’t mind either sitting in water (a bit) or drying out (a bit).

They’re just very adaptable in general.

They're epiphytic plants, so they're designed to be able to survive being severed from their subterranean root system and switch to relying on their aerial roots. 

They're not true epiphytes, so they do have underground roots, but as they mature and develop they become less reliant on them.
monstera aerial roots in the wild

This doesn’t mean that they can survive without a root system.

They definitely can’t.

It just means that they won’t throw the towel in when their roots fail and they have to grow a new set.

This property makes switching them to leca a LOT easier than switching, for example, a Ficus.

Bear in mind that Hoya are true epiphytes BUT they don't work in the same way and can be trickier to transfer (I still think they take it pretty well though). They don't produce aerial roots to climb; they produce vines instead.

They do have aerial roots for stability, but they're not *quite* the same. Monstera aerial roots can grow super long and hit the ground from several feet up - Hoya ones are pretty short and stubby.

How to transfer a Monstera to leca

I personally don’t think it’s a great idea to transfer mature plants that are your pride and joy from soil to leca UNLESS it’s the last option you have before you give up and throw it in the bin.

There’s just too much risk, and even if the transition goes super smoothly, you’re likely to lose a few leaves.

So I prefer to take a cutting, root it in water, and then switch that to leca.

monstera propagating in water

However, if you want to move an established Monstera to leca, then it’s just a case of washing off the roots really well. I like to remove as much as I can with my hands, then blast it with a hose, then soak it (overnight if the roots are really soil-y) and then blast again.

Monstera roots LOVE to grow down, so don't panic about keeping them out of the reservoir. 

I fill a plant pot (usually a plastic nursery pot because I'm cheap) a third full with washed leca, then put in the plant and backfill until the pot is full.

Then I add a cachepot (I like the Elho ones, because one of my local shops sells them super cheap) and add a reservoir and nutrient water.

How to take care of a Monstera in leca

I have a full guide to how to properly care for plants in leca here.

I find that Monstera are SUPER easy to maintain in leca. Ideally, you should be switching out the water every month, and replacing it with nutrient water. Top up with plain water in between times. Flush monthly.

You can keep a reservoir of nutrient water if you like, or just use the shower method.

Monstera are extremely chill about all this. I add a bit of nutrient water whenever I’m fertilising my other plants, and I rarely completely switch the water. So far, no issues.

Am I recommending this? No. But also…I’m not going to pretend it’s harder than it is.

I've gone a literal YEAR between flushing for my leca plants/changing the water and none of them has complained least of all Monstera. 

And this is a Thai Constellation. 

They complain about a LOT of things all of the time. But apparently not flushing is a-ok.

Which nutrients for Monstera in leca?

I use the General Hydroponics Flora mix, 1ml of each of the bottles per litre of water.

When this runs out I’ll probably try another one, just to change things up.

Fertiliser is super important but not as important as light and water so get those right first!

When it comes to brands, just buy whatever is available – just make sure it’s suitable for plants grow in semi-hydroponics.

Do I have any Monstera in leca?

As some of you may be aware, I switched my Monstera to hydroponics because it was easier to de-thrips it. I intended to put it back into leca but it did so well in water (and looks pretty cool) that I left it there, so I currently have no plans to put my Monstera in leca.

thai constellation in water

Why?

Because they’re too big and heavy and keeping them upright is a pita (if you struggle in general with keeping your Monstera upright, I have an article here with some tips for you). Now, I will probably attempt it in the future, because I’ve discovered Kratiste poles, but if you want to use one of the common coir poles….don’t. They’re forever falling over and they end up rotting.

Monsteras do super well in leca, so if you have a plan for letting it climb (like, having it attach to your wall) then don’t let me put you off.

But make sure you know how you're going to keep it upright before you put in the work of switching your Monstera from soil to leca.

How to keep a moss pole in leca

The easiest for coir poles is to glue/silicone the pole to the bottom of the pot. Make sure you use aquarium-grade silicone so you don’t poison the nutrient water.

Unfortunately, this does mean that it’ll be a pain to get the moss pole out, and since coir poles can rot, this could be an issue for future you.

Another option is plastic/wire mesh stuffed with moss – i.e. a proper moss pole. This type of pole is super popular with plant people that love to spend a lot of time taking care of their plants, and that want them to grow optimally.

I love the idea of moss poles because they’re lightweight and are less likely to fall over. They also allow the aerial roots to grow into the moss and form a secondary root system which in turn helps the plant grow bigger, faster.

I don’t water them. They dry out and get hydrophobic and then the aerial roots detach and I lose interest.

And then I discovered Kratiste poles, which are lightweight, compostable, sustainable AND DON’T NEED WATERING.

The root system won’t develop like it can when it’s in moss but the aerial roots will attach and allow the Monstera to climb.

I don’t have a Monstera on a Kratiste pole atm but look at this Syngonium:

syngonium aerial roots attaching to kratiste pole

Because Kratiste poles are so light you can stick them in leca (put them in first, then add your leca, then the plant) they won’t fall over, even if the pot is pretty small.

Final thoughts

Monstera don’t care about substrate nearly as much as we might think. As long as they have plenty of light (like, PLENTY of light) and adequate water, they’ll be perfectly happy.

They don't prefer leca over soil or vice versa. 

They don't care whether they're in store-bought soil or lovingly homemade potting mix. 

They just want light and water. 

I’m oversimplifying, but I get a lot of people asking me what the perfect conditions for Monstera are and they don’t exist (unless you’re in the rainforest).

Leca will neither save nor condemn your plant. If you prefer caring for plants in leca, and learn how to care for leca plants properly, then your Monstera will thrive.

If you like Monstera in soil, keep it that way! I swear, Monstera don’t care.

Caroline Cocker

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

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