Shop Orchid Care OrchidTalk Orchid Forum Links Nursery

Welcome to OrchidTalk Orchid Forums


The Friendliest Orchid Community on the Internet!


  •  » Learn to Repot your Orchids
  •  » Learn Orchid Care Tips and Secrets
  •  » Find the perfect Orchid for your Growing Environment
  •  » Chat with Orchid Growing Professionals

OrchidTalk - "Bringing People Together to Grow Orchids Better!"


Let us help you grow your Orchids better; Join our community today.


YES! I want to register an account for free right now!


Register or Login now to remove this advertisement.

Results 1 to 10 of 10
Like Tree12Likes
  • 2 Post By Orket
  • 1 Post By Chris in Hamilton
  • 2 Post By JDT
  • 1 Post By Orket
  • 1 Post By Barunario
  • 1 Post By Chris in Hamilton
  • 4 Post By Dorsetman

LECA vs Charcoal for Orchids

This is a discussion on LECA vs Charcoal for Orchids within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; When would one use LECA and not charcoal and vice versa? To my knowledge, both ...

Click here to increase the font size Click here to reduce the font size
  1. #1
    Orket is offline Junior Member
    Real Name
    Su
    My Grow Area
    Windowsill
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Multifloral Paph, Novelty Phal
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    26
    Member's Country Flag

    Default LECA vs Charcoal for Orchids

    When would one use LECA and not charcoal and vice versa? To my knowledge, both are similar in that they do not break down and they allow good aeration to the roots. I would think LECA would retain more water due to its smaller size, as compared to charcoal chunks. How does it compare to charcoal chips and is there any advantage/disadvantage to using LECA rather than charcoal? Charcoal is definitely more cost effective though.

  2. #2
    Chris in Hamilton's Avatar
    Chris in Hamilton is offline Senior Member
    My Grow Area
    Windowsill
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Dendrobium, Cattleya
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5,019
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    Charcoal isn't really used for aeration although it probably helps some. More for absorbing pollutants in the medium.

  3. #3
    JDT's Avatar
    JDT
    JDT is online now Senior Member
    Real Name
    Jack
    My Grow Area
    Outside 24/7
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Bulbophyllum and the rest!
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Cooper City, Florida
    Posts
    6,765
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    I would agree with Chris. One thing I would add being in an area where our heat and humidity is similar, charcoal will break down over time. I have some friends here that use LECA as the only media in some of their orchids, it is more expensive but in the long run you don't have to repot as often so it works out in the end for the extra cost, I use it in my media that I mix myself!

  4. #4
    Orket is offline Junior Member
    Real Name
    Su
    My Grow Area
    Windowsill
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Multifloral Paph, Novelty Phal
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    26
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    I see. Here everyone seems to use either charcoal chunks (dendrobiums etc) or sphagnum moss (phalenopsis) as the potting material. Most of mine are using charcoal with a top dressing of sphagnum/charcoal only/sphagnum only. The charcoal does seem to dry out too quickly for my liking but the dendrobiums dont seem to mind. Was hoping maybe the LECA might help with water retention...

    I have a bag of leftover LECA from a failed hydroponics experiment. Im currently using it on a new Cynoches, so far it hasnt complained (yet). Would be interesting to substitute some of the charcoal for LECA at the next repotting to see what difference it would make.
    Posted via Mobile Device

  5. #5
    JDT's Avatar
    JDT
    JDT is online now Senior Member
    Real Name
    Jack
    My Grow Area
    Outside 24/7
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Bulbophyllum and the rest!
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Cooper City, Florida
    Posts
    6,765
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Orket View Post
    I see. Here everyone seems to use either charcoal chunks (dendrobiums etc) or sphagnum moss (phalenopsis) as the potting material. Most of mine are using charcoal with a top dressing of sphagnum/charcoal only/sphagnum only. The charcoal does seem to dry out too quickly for my liking but the dendrobiums dont seem to mind. Was hoping maybe the LECA might help with water retention...

    I have a bag of leftover LECA from a failed hydroponics experiment. Im currently using it on a new Cynoches, so far it hasnt complained (yet). Would be interesting to substitute some of the charcoal for LECA at the next repotting to see what difference it would make.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    You should try that! I use sphagnum in my Cynoches/Catasetums and they love it!

  6. #6
    Barunario's Avatar
    Barunario is offline Member
    Real Name
    Baruna Riotama
    My Grow Area
    Outside 24/7
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Angraecum sesquipedale
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Indonesia
    Posts
    45
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    I agree with Chris. Charcoal is said to be capable of absorbing polutans (example : overdose fertilizer).
    As for water retention capability, I think both are similar. I water every morning and every evening as I check the pot, it dries out completely. Maybe I'll check a few hours after watering this weekend. Fortunately my catts doesn't seem to detest this situation.

    Oh and I live in Indonesia, you can say coastal area.


    Cheers,
    Baruna

  7. #7
    Chris in Hamilton's Avatar
    Chris in Hamilton is offline Senior Member
    My Grow Area
    Windowsill
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Dendrobium, Cattleya
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5,019
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Orket View Post
    I see. Here everyone seems to use either charcoal chunks (dendrobiums etc) or sphagnum moss (phalenopsis) as the potting material. Most of mine are using charcoal with a top dressing of sphagnum/charcoal only/sphagnum only. The charcoal does seem to dry out too quickly for my liking but the dendrobiums dont seem to mind. Was hoping maybe the LECA might help with water retention...

    I have a bag of leftover LECA from a failed hydroponics experiment. Im currently using it on a new Cynoches, so far it hasnt complained (yet). Would be interesting to substitute some of the charcoal for LECA at the next repotting to see what difference it would make.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    I know in the Philippines Dendrobium are often grown in a split coconut husk filled with charcoal then tied back together. In that case, yes, it is being used partially to drain quickly. That works well where the climate is warm/hot because you can let water fly everywhere outdoors. In temperate climates and especially for people growing indoors you do need something to hold the water longer so straight charcoal wouldn't work.

  8. #8
    Dorsetman's Avatar
    Dorsetman is offline Senior Member
    Real Name
    Geoff Hands
    My Grow Area
    Greenhouse
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Cattleya ?
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    England, South coast.
    Posts
    4,195
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    I don't think either material ( charcoal, leca) holds water itself, unlike sphagnum moss. It is on the surface of the chunks. And then the roots follow the surface of the chunks to get at the water. The capillary action effect which moves the water through the pot, works when the space between nearly touching chunks is just right - perhaps a fraction of a millimetre. So drainage, and water availability to the plants depends on the size of the chunks, and also on the surface texture. Rough surfaces hold the water longer ; smooth surfaces allow complete drainage. Quite a complex subject and I have never found any sensible scientific treatise on the subject ( but a lot of hooey which made me laugh out loud ). I did quite a bit of experimentation, using glass columns, and seeing tghe different rates of evaporation from the top etc., to apply to my own culture. But I couldn't make up "laws of capillary flow" from them.

  9. #9
    daenna is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Gender
    Female
    Posts
    21

    Default

    Had success growing cattleyas using LECA as a medium. I just have to water them a little more often.

  10. #10
    Orket is offline Junior Member
    Real Name
    Su
    My Grow Area
    Windowsill
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Multifloral Paph, Novelty Phal
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    26
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    Recently, I posed this question to a local orchid nursery owner. He says that charcoal (large chunks, not flakes) retains water slightly better than LECA. Typically charcoal dries out in a few hours when used indoors, which is fine for Catts, Vandas and the like.

    I repotted one of my dendrobiums into LECA out of curiosity and the results, although not "scientifically tested" :P seem to support his opinion. As I'm quite a reluctant water-er, guess I'll use the LECA for my hydroponics stuff instead.

    The garden centre I frequent sells "orchid stones for cymbidiums", which seem to be pumice stones. How would these fare in comparison?

    (Btw, just looked at the Cynoches that I mentioned earlier in this thread and it is potted in sphagnum now... haha I must have transferred it over at some point and forgot... it seems to be quite happy there though with lots of roots in the medium)

Similar Threads

  1. Should i pot my orchids in LECA?
    By KC Kam in forum New Growers: Ask the Senior Members
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: August 17th, 2017, 11:59 AM
  2. Adjustment period for orchids in leca?
    By Mo Boggie in forum Using the Boards
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: March 7th, 2014, 08:14 AM
  3. Hydroton or LECA and Bark Mix for repotting phal orchids
    By llstl56 in forum New Growers: Ask the Senior Members
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: August 29th, 2013, 05:09 PM
  4. Charcoal and orchids
    By chrisa in forum General Orchid Culture
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: May 22nd, 2013, 06:59 PM
  5. Charcoal ?
    By rich63 in forum Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: May 9th, 2013, 07:53 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
OrchidTalk --An Orchid Growers Discussion Forum brought to you by River Valley Orchidworks. A World Community where orchid beginners and experts talk about orchids and share tips on their care, cultivation, and propagation.