Hydroton clay pebbles are a great growing medium to use in your hydroponics systems. If you’re wondering how to use Hydroton clay pebbles in your hydroponic garden, we will let you know in this post.
Hydroton clay pebbles are widely used by hydroponic and aquaponics growers as well as some soil gardeners. We have listed all you need to know about Hydroton clay pebbles as well as how to use them in your hydroponic garden. We also look at their benefits and downsides to using them. So, let’s get right into it.
What is Clay Pebbles Hydroponics?
Hydroton, also known as lightweight expanded clay aggregates or pellets. They are known by many names. You may come across these names in stores or other places under the names such as Hydroton pellets, clay balls, hydrocorn, leca clay, etc. These names are all the same thing from the same production standpoint.
They are made from heating clay up to about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit until they pop (just like popcorn) and expands into a lightweight permeable growing medium.
These clay pebbles may come in circular balls of different sizes and they will support your plant with good airflow and water. They are popularly used in the ebb and flow or flood and drain system, but they can be used in other types of hydroponic systems.
How To Use Hydroton Clay Pebbles (For Hydroponics)
The first thing you want to do is to rinse or wash your Hydroton clay pellets thoroughly. This step is very important because the clay balls have plenty of dust. This may cause the clay pebbles to rub against each other thereby accumulating dust and cause friction in your system of transport.
Soak The Pebbles
The next step is to soak your clay pellets for at least 6 hours and at most 24 hours. This will make water absorption easier for your plants as the clay balls would have already been filled with water.
Proceed to planting by spreading your seeds over the clay pebbles. Make use of small net pots halfway filled with pebbles and cover the seed with more clay pebbles. You can also transplant seedlings into your hydroponic system by using Rockwool to germinate your seeds.
As your plants grow, you should remove them and rinse from once in a while. This will prevent toxic build-up that can clog your plants and prevent them from absorbing nutrients. If you notice any whitish residue at the top of your plants, that’s a sign you need to rinse your plant and clay pebbles.
Once you’ve washed your clay pebbles, proceed to add your nutrient solution to your reservoir. Then your system is ready to go.
How To Use Hydroton Pellets (For Soil)
Hydroton clay pebbles are mostly used in soil gardening to attain excellent water retention and airflow. Let’s look at 3 ways Hydroton balls can be used in soil:
- Used Alone Or As Soil Mix: in soil gardening, Hydroton can be used alone or mixed in soil (in the ratio of 30% Hydroton and 70% soil). This will enhance the water holding capacity of your soil.
- Add To The Base Of Soil: another way to use Hydroton in your soil garden is to add them at the base of your growing container. It should be below the layer of your soil and this will increase its draining mechanism.
- Crush: you can also crush the clay pebbles and mix them with soil. This will help keep your plants hydrated as well as improve air circulation.
Benefits Of Using Hydroponic Pebbles
Here are some benefits of using Hydroton clay pebbles:
- Reusable & Cost-Effective: Hydroton clay pebbles can be used over and over again. Thus, making them durable and cost-effective.
- Excellent Water Drainage: even with their top-notch water and nutrient retention, they also have excellent water draining capacity. The pores in the pebbles allow for space-enhancing which gives their drainage property. They also give room for optimal airflow.
- Neutral pH: you need not worry about any reaction or impact by these clay balls because they are neutral to pH. You can use them in combination for your soil or hydroponic garden foundation.
- Sterile: expanded clay pellets are a sterile growing medium that will help keep bacteria and insects at bay during plant growth. They are also environmentally friendly.
- Non-sticky & Easy To Harvest: Hydroton clay balls are non-sticky. Thus, they are easy to pull out during harvest or when you want to rinse them.
- Crushable: they can be easily crushed if you want to enhance water retention for your plants’ germination.
Downsides To Hydroton Pebbles
Even though Hydroton clay pebbles offer great benefits, there are still some downsides to them. They include:
- Heavy: From our knowledge of clay, they are usually quite heavy. Therefore, Hydroton clay pebbles are also heavy especially when you use them in an ebb and flow system.
- Dusty & Requires Rinsing: Clay balls are always dusty and it’s necessary for them to be washed before use. If you fail to wash them before use, the dust will clog your system and cause blockage which is a big issue.
- Drainage: Even with Hydroton clay pebble top-notch draining mechanism, it can also be its con. Clay balls are capable of draining so well that they can actually dry out rapidly. But this is not a big if you always maintain a constant flow of water and nutrient.
How To Use Hydroton Clay Pebbles: Final Say
We can see there are many great benefits to using expandable Hydroton clay pebbles. They offer excellent drainage properties and good aeration. They are also long-lasting and reusable which makes them more cost-effective.
So if you’re thinking of how to use Hydroton clay pebbles, look through our guide and enlighten yourself on all you need to know. Happy growing folks!