Hydroton is the brand name for a lightweight clay used as a growing medium—made in Germany.
It is one of the most versatile gardening mediums available. Hydroton balls are not a rock. It is an expanded clay product. Hydroponic gardeners have quickly adopted this German product, but don’t let that fool you. You can also use this excellent growing medium for soil gardening.
To make it, they mine the clay, form it into clay pellets, then fire it in a kiln at really high temperatures to cause it to expand into lightweight clay balls (8-16mm in size). It results in an ideal surface structure that is semi-porous and has a balanced capillary action.
Other cheaper knock-off brands of Hydroton can float and cause issues. Along with irregular formed and broken balls.
To ensure the most outstanding results, Hydroton balls should be rinsed before you use it. It can be used multiple times as long as it is cleaned each time.
Hydroton’s Beneficial Properties:
Water Retention and Drainage
The material has tiny pores that look like a sponge. Holds just the right amount of water and drains excess water to avoid overwatering.
Hydroton balls are a better option than soil, which can compress and reduce the oxygen available over time. It retains its shape, allows for continuous oxygen exchange, and keeps your roots healthy.
It is essential to use a medium that isn’t too basic or acidic when gardening. Hydroton has a neutral pH, so there is no need to worry about plant health or nutrient loss.
It is made in large rolling kilns, which ‘bake it into its final form. Hydroton is sterile because it is used at high temperatures. This is a great benefit as you don’t want any bacteria or disease to enter your garden.
Used for Hydroponics
Most widely used hydroponics growing medium. It can be used with any hydroponic gardening method, but it is perfect for Deep Water Culture, Drip, and Ebb & flow systems. It can flounder in approaches that completely flood the root network. Hydroton should not be used in these systems to prevent the roots of plants from being damaged.
Hydroton in Soil
Hydroton is an essential addition to soil gardens, despite all its hype in hydroponic gardening. Hydroponic gardeners can also benefit from the drainage, aeration, and non-compacting properties of hydroton.
Can be used up to 30% in your next batch of soil. This will improve the structure of your potting soils and increase root productivity. I like to place about 12 inches of pellets in the bottom of my container planters to ensure drainage. This stuff will ensure that your planters don’t get too wet.
Hydroton is a magical growing rock that genuinely lives up. Hydroton is a small ball of expanded clay that all gardeners can use. Try some in your garden.