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Episode 109: Passive Hydroponics 2.0 and the LECA VS PON Debate

LECA VS PON LECHUZA Semi or Passive Hydro



I’m so excited to welcome back Kay from @inrootedlove for a next level conversation on the soil free Semi Hydroponic or Passive Hydroponic Lifestyle. You might remember Kay from episode 77 an Intro to Semi or Passive Hydroponics- so now that  year has passed and our community has been experimenting with this style of growing- she’s joining me again discuss what a year of passive- hydro has looked like, dive deeper into the concepts and answer listener questions. For those of you who don't know: Passive Hydroponics is a method for keeping plants not in soil, but in LECA or PON Lechuza (inorganic substrates) and managing their  nutrients yourself, instead of using potting mix. It’s a plant parent lifestyle many people swear by. I initially was NOT sold on the complexities of preparing LECA, measuring nutrients and more, but after a year of experimenting with passive-hydro I definitely see the value in this practice! So if you haven’t listened to that first episode– I highly recommend starting there before listening in on this one. 

Two other ways to learn about Passive Hydro this week!


Head over to @bloomandgrowradio on IG to enter our Passive Hydro Starter Kit Giveaway! We are giving away two rooted cuttings of Kay's marble pothos and two net pots with enough LECA and Lechuza to plant up each cutting in the substrates and conduct your OWN experiments!


Kay and I also made a companion video for the BAG Youtube Show where Kay gives us a mini LECA vs Lechuza tutorial and actually shows us how to pot up a plant types of substrate. If you’re curious on her techniques, click the link in the show notes to check the video out after  you listen to this episode!

Glow Up Alert

FYI The Bloom and Grow Website got a pretty epic makeover and I’d love for you to head on over and check it out- you can learn a little more about me, snag all of the freebies I’ve created for ya over the years, shop the Bloom and Grow Merch and Plant Friends Apparel line AND we’ve got a shop now that houses all the sponsor discount codes, my favorite books and courses and more. Thanks to Digital Grace Design for doing such an amazing job.

In this episode we learn:

  • What Kay's Plant Number is
  • How Kay manages to keep 200+ plants in her home happy and healthy with NO grow lights
  • The home characteristics Kay looked for when buying a home so her plants could thrive [9:00]
  • What Maria secretly dreams of for the next home (it's not what you think) [10:00]
  • What is Semi or Passive Hydro [10:55]
  • Reasons for why you should try Semi or Passive Hydroponics [12:52]
  • Kay's experience having small children and a large plant collection [12:37]
  • Maria's main takeaways from a year of experimenting with semi-hydro: what she is doing great and where she still needs help [13:50]
  • How do net pots work when roots start to grow out of the pot [15:43]
  • How to handle orchid roots in LECA [17:0]
  • How to handle aroid roots in LECA [17:20]
  • Root pruning [17:50]
  • The story behind Kay's gorgeous Albo Monstera [19:30]
  • Is it bad for plants roots to touch the water in a Semi Hydro or Passive Hydro set up? [20:00]
  • When to repot your plant in semi hydro [21:00]
  • What happened when Maria forgot about her plants in LECA for 2 months [22:40]
  • How can you avoid root rot when using semi hydroponics or passive hydroponics? [24:25]
  • Nutrient troubleshooting deep dive [27:25]
  • Kay elaborates on how she uses Azomax to manage pests in her large collection [31:19]
  • What are the signs of a healthy plant in semi hydro [34:30]
  • What does a healthy root look like in LECA
  • How dry can you let your reservoir get before you kill your plant [37:16]
  • How to gage water levels with opaque pots [37:50]
  • What's an appropriate transition time for a plant to go through transplant shock? [41:26]
  • Kays product she uses to help plants transition more efficiently [42:15]
  • LECA VS PON: their differences, pros and cons [43:58]
  • What PON lechuza is made up of [44:20]
  • What plants Kay chooses to put PON in over LECA [45:00]
  • Why Kay doesn't put all her plants in PON [45:01]
  • What plants Kay plants in PON [45:20]
  • Why Kay grows anthurium in PON [46:48]
  • Does a PON set up look different than a LECA set up? [47:26]
  • Why fertilizing with PON will look very different than fertilizing in LECA
  • Are there any plant your shouldn't put in passive hydro? [49:10]
  • How Kay uses PON completely different on her arid plants to help better replicate their natural environments [49:37]
  • My Raphidophora tetrasperma propagation experiment

Mentioned in our conversation:

Thank you to our episode sponsor:

Modern Sprout: Modern Sprout is connecting people and plants with their fabulous lines of grow lights, hydroponic planters and all sorts of plant accessories that empower people to cultivate their own indoor oasis, whether you live in a studio apartment or a sprawling farmhouse, with simple, stylish and sustainable green-thumb solutions for every home. For 15% off your order, visit and use code 15bloom at checkout!

Check out the 3 Youtube Videos Maria has made about her Semi Hydro Experiments


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Instagram: @inrootedlove


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