Hydroponics clay pebbles can do wonders for plants. They work by using pores to hold oxygen and moisture. They drain quickly and are great for ebb and flow hydroponic systems. You can also use them for aquaponics. Keep reading to learn all about expanded clay pellets!

What Are Expanded Clay Pellets?

When conducting your research, you’ll discover that there are multiple names that all refer to the same thing. Some names include expanded clay pebbles, clay balls, and leca clay.

Expanded clay pellets are made when you heat clay to over 2000 degrees F. This creates air bubbles in the clay so it’s able to hold plenty of oxygen and moisture. 

You can use expanded clay pellets on their own or in a combination of clay pebbles and other growing mediums.

Benefits and Downsides

Let’s go over the benefits and downsides of hydroton.

Benefits of hydroton

Here are some advantages to clay pellets for hydroponics:

  • Clay pellets absorb moisture and provide superior drainage. They also absorb nutrient solution. This is one of the most important aspects of clay pebbles.
  • The pebbles’ pores, the gaps between them, and the incredible drainage of water ensures that the roots get a lot of oxygen.
  • Clay pellets for hydroponics last quite a long time. All you need to do is wash them and reuse them. You don’t have to be concerned about losing nutrients when you wash them because they don’t hold onto nutrients. If they start to become less useful, just put them in the soil of your garden outside to increase organic content and aeration.
  • Clay balls are pH neutral and discourage bugs.
  • To increase water retention, crush them up. This is great for germination.
  • Clay pebbles are cheap to make and will save you a lot of money since you can use them for years to come.

Downsides of hydroton

Here are some downsides of hydroton.

  • Hydroton can be heavy, especially if you don’t mix the pebbles with other grow mediums.
  • It can take a while to rinse and soak them and their dust can get all over the place while you do so.
  • The clay of the pebbles is strip-mined, so if you’re passionate about the environment and conservation, this might not be the option for you.
  • If you don’t do a good job at rinsing and soaking them, their dust can clog your system.
  • Their great water drainage can be just as much of a curse as it is a blessing because they dry out so quickly.

How To Use Clay Pebbles

Clay pellets for hydroponics are a fantastic growing medium most popularly used in ebb and flow or flood and drain hydroponic systems. 

Flood and drain systems have two levels:

  • A planting container
  • A reservoir

Water gets pumped from the reservoir into the planting container and then drains back down to be reused. Usually the system works in line with a timer.

Utilizing clay pebbles in a flood and drain system is quite simple.

1. Rinse your clay pebbles to get rid of any dirt and debris that may be on them.

2. Fill your plant container with clay pebbles.

3. Either plant seeds directly over your clay pebbles or transplant seedlings. A typical way to start transplants is in rockwool.

4. Fill up the reservoir with a nutrient-rich solution according to your plants’ needs. Empty the reservoir and refill it about every two weeks. Depending on how quickly your plants consume nutrients, you might have to refill more or less frequently.

5. Set the timer so that it floods your plants a few times a day. You may have to play around with how often to flood your system, especially if you’re mixing the clay pebbles with another kind of medium.

6. Be sure that your water is fully drained before it reaches the top of your clay pebbles. Otherwise it can encourage the growth of algae and discourage plant growth.


How to plant microgreens in clay pebbles?

First, get expanded clay pebbles for hydroponics from a trustworthy source and rinse them off.

Fill the plant container up with a layer of hydroponic clay pebbles.

Place the seeds over clay pebbles. You always want to grow microgreens from seeds because you harvest them so young.

Mix your water and nutrient solution. Follow the instructions on the label. Get a nutrient solution that’s compatible with the microgreens you’re growing. Your microgreens won’t require too much fertilizer because you never want to overload young plants with too many nutrients. Always adjust your nutrients for the appropriate stages of plant growth.

Use the ebb and flow method as described earlier in the article and you’re good to go!

What grows best in clay pebbles?

You’re able to grow any kinds of plants in clay pebbles that you would grow in any hydroponic setup. This include veggies, flowers, leafy greens, and microgreens. Even orchids thrive in clay pebbles!

 Can I use clay pebbles for aquaponics?

You can use hydroponic clay balls for aquaponics.

People love to use expanded clay pebbles in aquaponics for numerous reasons. They create great root aeration, enhance microbial action, prevent rotting, and prevent excess acidity.


Expanded clay pellets are a great way to up your hydoponics game. With superior aeration, your plant roots will be able to uptake nutrients like never before. Get ready for higher yields with this incredible invention!

Read more of our blog posts to learn all about hydroponics.