Starting Your Seedlings In Clay Pebbles

Photo 01-09-2014 10 03 20 am

There wasn’t much about the success rate of starting off seedlings in clay pebbles in any of the aquaponics resources I researched, but I thought I would give it a go as transplanting a clay pebble pot straight into an aquaponics grow bed is much less disruptive to the plants than washing soil off the roots and redistributing them in different media.

Whilst I was waiting for my aquaponics system to properly cycle I started off some spinach, pak choi and basil, in the same clay media as my grow bed. I also grew some seeds in soil to monitor the difference. Obviously as the soil has more nutrients after about 10 days the soil plants started to grow much faster, however once in the system the plants in the pebbles were eventually much stronger than the soil plants. I think having all the roots washed and rearranged in pebbles did not leave the plants in a happy mood and in-fact some of the wilted and perished! This did not happen with any of my pebble seedlings.

Photo 05-09-2014 03 15 03 pm

VERDICT: Start off your seedlings in the same growing media as your system. Plant them in a pot with holes in the bottom so you can pop them straight in your grow bed. Grow them for about two weeks (or until the roots poke out the pot) before putting them in the main bed, and if possible water them with the same water that is in your system BUT only if it is fully cycled.

TIP: A heated seed tray helps development and of course lots of light is beneficial. 

9 thoughts on “Starting Your Seedlings In Clay Pebbles

    • alicejanewoods says:

      We have been starting ours in heated seed trays and watering with water from the Aquaponics system, seems to accelerate their growth in the beginning 🙂 and then we just transfer the pots when the roots start to poke out the bottom holes.


  1. skhoury87 says:

    I am looking for a how-to guide on actually planting the seedlings in clay pebbles. I do not imagine it’s like poking a hole in loose dirt and dropping a seed in it because the clay pebbles seem to have much more space between them for a seed to roll around or float away in water. So how to you let the roots establish? On another subject, after you rinse of a previously potted plant, what’s the best way to establish the roots in clay pebbles? Thanks


    • alicejanewoods says:

      Hi there,
      It is very difficult to wash the roots of previously potted plants and then get them to take within the clay pebbles. We have tried it with pretty much zero success. Best thing to do is just directly drop some seeds into the grow beds. As long as your water level doesn’t get too high they won’t be washed away and will germinate because of the moist environment. We like to spritz the pebbles with water where we know there are seeds to encourage germination. Just hide the seeds under a pebble and watch them sprout!


  2. Nana says:

    I built a Hydro wick system
    I have the same question. Can you start the seed on a paper towel soak and then when you see the seed crack (white root) you can put it in the clay pellets? How deep do you think it needs to be in the pellets?
    I know seeds like darkness but when should you put the light figure on them?

    Thank you for your time and exprerience


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