Transitioning Soil Plants to LECA

Almost all house plants you can buy at local nurseries or home depots will be in the soil. If you’re like me and love LECA, you’ll want to put those soil plants into LECA.

Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, it is far from it. The smaller the plant is, the easier the transition will be. I’ve lost a few large plants trying to transition them. Learn from my mistakes, start small, and then you can watch them grow big in LECA.

It’s best to do the unpotting process outside; I use this mat to help contain the dirt. Take the plant out of the nursery pot; sometimes, cutting the pot is necessary. Then gently remove dirt from the roots, and wear gloves; you’ll thank me later.

This process can be quick for a small plant with few roots or a very long time for plants with many roots. Once you’ve gotten most of the big clumps of soil out, now it’s time to break out the hose and rinse off the roots to remove the rest of the dirt.

This is important; having soil on your plant in LECA could lead to root rot.

Once the roots are mostly clean, you have a choice. You could just put the whole plant, clean roots and all, in a pot, put some LECA in to support it, and water it up to the bottom of the roots just like usual. And then hope that it makes the transition well.

I generally find this works well with plants like Pothos or Monsteras, ones that root easily and already love to be in water and have thicker roots that work well with LECA. I will generally only do this for plants I don’t care too much about, or that were cheap, so if they die, I’m not too sad.

The other option re-root the plant in water. To do this you cut off all, or mostly all, the roots that you just cleaned (if you plan on doing this step, I generally skip the cleaning and cut all the existing roots off to start fresh), then put the plantin water to water root. This is the safer option, but it takes longer. See details on water propping and other methods here.

Whichever option you choose, you should keep a close eye on your plant; if it starts to look questionable, it’s probably a good idea to look at the roots and see if there’s any rot. If there is, cut the rotted parts off (the brown, mushy parts), let it callus for a few hours, then put it back in the vessel to try again. Ensure you clean the vessel and/or LECA you used before using it again.

Some people recommend hydrogen peroxide when you have root rot issues or when transitioning a plant. Either spraying it on the roots before putting it into LECA or putting it into the water when water propping. I’ve had mixed success with using it. Generally, I spray it on the old soil roots if I try to put it right into LECA; the jury is still out on whether it makes a big difference.

More on root rot here

Start with easy plants, peace lilies, monsteras, pothos, and philodendrons. All of these give you a higher chance of a successful transition. I would never say that I have a 100% success rate with transitioning soil plants; 75% is probably more accurate. It has a lot to do with the condition of the plant when you buy it.

Anytime you unpot a plant, you risk it going into shock and quitting on life. If this is a risk you are unwilling to take, try to buy cuttings of whatever plant you want from Facebook groups or the marketplace.

At this point, I own most common plants that you find at nurseries. I mostly try only to get cuttings or water-rooted plants; I try not to mess with the transition from soil at all if I can avoid it. It’s a hassle and risky if the plant is expensive. It works most of the time, but it’s labor-intensive and messy. But it can be worth it if you got the plant cheap and are willing to commit some time to the process.

Feel free to message or DM me with questions. Love to talk all things plant and will gladly help you on your plant journey.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *