Clay balls are popular and beneficial when used in hydroponic systems. With proper use, their benefits can be further increased by following few tips. It is advisable to rinse the pebbles prior to their first use, because even with good process control there could be a manufacturing debris lodged within the pores. Occasional rinsing will also remove the salt buildup that may cause phytotoxicity. Adding nutrients before using the pebbles allows the plants to start using nutrients immediately and directly. One of the main benefits of water retention can be enhanced by breaking the pebbles into smaller pieces, as this decreases the size of macro-pores, but be careful not to make them too small if you are using a net pot. In addition to these benefits, pebbles increase aeration, provide proper drainage, are reusable and most importantly are environmentally friendly.
- Clay pebbles help aerate roots and aid water retention and drainage.
- Before using, rinse the pebbles, then soak them for up to 24 hours.
- Crushing clay pebbles into small pieces will serve to increase water retention.
“Although most commonly used as a sole substrate in recirculating hydroponic systems such as drip or flood and drain systems, clay pebbles can also be used by soil and coco growers as a base layer when potting (to increase drainage) and as a top layer (to reduce the evaporation from the top of the growing medium caused by grow lights).”