Now a days, there are a number of different substrates available to grow your houseplants in. We've already discussed soil, making your own mixed and growing plants in LECA. Now, let's talk about pon. Pon is the latest trend to take over the plant world. If you've done any research about semi hydro growing, I'm certain you've heard about pon or, sometimes called, lechuza pon. Lechuza pon has been one of the latest trends to take the plant world by storm and many claim to like it better than the alternative, LECA.
What is pon?
Pon is a great substrate of growing houseplants in semi hydro. Semi hydro is a way of growing plants in a soilless substrate. Any substrate that's porous enough to allow water wicking makes a great semi hydro growth media. The plant is placed in a water reservoir to be self watered. Other porous substrates like LECA or Perlite also make great soilless media.
Pon is typically made from:
A mineral use to purify water. Often found in water and air purifiers.
Very airy and porous, perfect for adding air flow to plant roots.
Another type of porous lava rock. Good for absorbing water and helping with water rentention.
The fertilizer added to lechuza pon is a slow release fertilizer that typically last up to 6 months.
This substrate can be DIY or can be purchased from various places, the most popular being from Lechuza. Lechuza has almost monetized the pon industry, so much so, that people don't know Lechuza is just a brand of pon.
Due to the nature of each material used in pon, it provides extra air flow to plant roots which can help prevent plant diseases and root rot. It also has the added benefit of curbing with fungus gnats because gnat larvae needs organic material, like soil, to truly develop and thrive.
Using pon in your houseplants
Transferring your plants into pon is similar to transferring them to LECA. If your plant was previously in soil, you'll need to unpot the plant and clean the roots entirely. Sometimes running them under the sink will help knock off any excess soil. During this process, make sure you remove any dead or rotted roots.
Next, before using the pon, make sure you give it a good rinse. Using a sifter or bucket, rinse all the lechuza pon until the water runs clean. This will clean the pon of any excess dust or sediment that could suffocate plant roots.
Now you'll need to decide what sort of planter you'll use. Lechuza planters are the easiest, because they're set up for self watering plants and ready to go almost right out of the box. However, if that's not an option, you can use things like a net pot inside a cache pot, or even DIY with plastic cups.
Plant your houseplant into the planter of your choosing.
When transferring a plant thats been in soil, it will need more time to adjust to pon rather than a fresh cutting or a plant that was propagated in water. For the first few weeks, don't let the plant sit in a water reservoir just yet. Let the lechuza pon dry out and give it a good soak when it needs water. Repeat this method for a few months. During this time, your plant might be struggling or going through transfer shock. Make sure to give it optimal growing conditions and keep a close eye on the roots.
Plants that have been grown in water, perlite, and sphagnum moss will have little transfer period since they already have water roots.
What's the difference between LECA and Lechuza Pon?
Let's talk about the first difference you may notice with LECA and Pon, the size. Although LECA comes in different sizes, the standard size is much larger than pon and is circular. While, lechuza pon, is the size of gravel and a lot more dense. Pon is a more structurally stable plant substrate, especially for bigger plants, than LECA. However, due to the small nature, you have to pot a lot into on planter making it heavy. This may be a problem for bigger plants or if you struggle to carry heavy objects.
The next noticeable difference would be the cost. LECA is a lot more cost effective than lechuza pon, even if you choose DIY pon. Most plant people, will save pon for the plants that are particularly sensitive to water or for propagations.
The last biggest difference with LECA and pon would be fertilizing. With LECA, you have a whole process where you have to measure out the fertilizer and almost play scientist so you don't damage your plant. Whereas,lechuza pon automatically comes with fertilizer that typically last for a few months. All you need to do is remember to add in more slow release premium quality fertilizer or use a standard liquid fertilizer when the slow release runs out.
Click here to learn more about fertilizer.
How to water plants in lechuza pon
How you water your houseplants in pon depends on the type of planters your plants are in. If you choose to use a reservoir or a lechuza planter, simply add water to it once it runs dry. However, if you have your houseplant in a nursery pot with drainage hole, the "shower method" is best. Which is simply letting water run through the top and down out the drainage hole like you would water a plant in soil.
Keep in mind, pon hold onto moisture a lot longer than LECA or regular soil. To ensure you don't over water the plant, make sure the pon is completely dry. Or, if planted in a clear container, check to see if you see condensation build up around the lechuza pon.
What types of plants are good for pon?
When looking up pon research, you'll notice a lot of Hoya plant people turning to pon. Hoya truly love and thrive in pon due to their epiphytic nature. However, Monstera, Philodendron, Ferns, and Syngoniums are some other common houseplants that are also grown in lechuza pon.
If you're unsure if lechuza pon is right for a certain plant, I'd recommend trying it on a cutting first. Lastly, established larger plants, may have a hard time transitioning to pon. Try to avoid transferring it unless absolutely necessary.