Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Opinions on Hydroton Clay Balls

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Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
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Mar 11, 2018 8:37 AM CST
Hello! Smiling Okay I need some opinions. I went to a greenhouse recently and purchased a ferocactus that had the hydroton clay balls as a substrate topper. I loved the look of it, and coincidentally I found bags of it that day at IKEA so I purchased them. I did some research and saw that they are used in hydroponics. For some reason I thought they would be like pumice and keep a substrate mix dry. Is that not correct? Just wanted to know the effects these have on succulents so I don't kill my plants! Thank you!!!
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Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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Mar 11, 2018 9:15 AM CST
I'm not totally sure, but think they are like Aliflor which some people use for orchids. They hold water.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Mar 11, 2018 10:09 AM CST
Hi Lindsey, leca ( light expanded clay aggregate) or those clay balls, does share similar attribute with pumice. Those clay balls have lots of air holes which allows good airflow at root zone.

Sometimes I use them too with my cactus soil, to help loosen the media, if I do not have perlite or pumice around. But not a lot of it, since it holds water much longer than pumice.

Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Mar 11, 2018 10:11 AM CST


Yes, they absorb and wick water and are used in hydroponic type situations. They guarantee plenty of air in the spaces between the balls. Lots of detailed information about one such system here...
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Mar 11, 2018 10:11 AM (+)]
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Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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Mar 11, 2018 12:51 PM CST
I have used Hydroton in my plants for water conservation. I have never used it as a top dressing and will be curious to see how well it works when used with succulents.
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