Will Succulents Grow In Gravel?

by Succulent MarketDec 7, 2020

succulents in gravel


If there’s one plant that could survive anything, chances are it’s a succulent. They are very resilient and cope with conditions most other plants would perish in, such as dry deserts and mountain ranges. That said, they still need enough water to grow and reproduce. 

Some people like to plant succulents in gravel and rocks as it makes the arrangement look nicer than an ordinary plant pot. But can succulents actually grow in gravel?

This guide will explain.

Do Succulents Grow In Gravel?

Unfortunately, succulents cannot grow in gravel alone as it cannot provide the vital water and nutrients the plant needs.

However, rocks and gravel can help with drainage problems that can cause succulents to turn yellow or die. Such rocks are known as potting pebbles. Putting them at the bottom of the pot prevents water lingering in the soil, therefore preventing the roots from rotting.

Now, if you have seen an arrangement that looks like the succulent is just growing in rocks or gravel, the truth is that the gardener will have added some soil to that spot beforehand. It’s probably not going to be as much soil as the succulent needs, but still enough to keep the roots covered and give it a good supply of nutrients.

How To Plant Succulents In Just Rocks Or Gravel

Use Fertilizer

As noted above, succulents need water and nutrients from the soil to grow. If you have your heart set on planting a succulent or two in a rock/gravel arrangement, then you must find another way to give it the vital nutrients.

In this case, consider condensing its potting mix with either organic or inorganic fertilizer to support its growth. You can also apply it to the plant once it’s been planted.

The main thing to note is that the succulent should never go without nutrients. Without them, they will become weak and start to look pale.

If you notice that the plant isn’t as colorful as it was before being planted in gravel, this is a sign that it needs feeding. 

Top Up The Soil Occasionally

After a couple of weeks, make sure to top up the soil. Keep this up so the succulent can continue soaking up the nutrients and grow its roots. 

In terms of how much soil it needs, at the minimum, you must cover the base of the roots. There’s no need to remove the rocks and gravel from the arrangement; simply pour it in and lightly shake the pot until the soil reaches the bottom.

Use The Right Species

Some species of succulents grow better in gravel than others. For example, the cacti epiphyte is known to survive environments where soil is in short supply.

On the other hand, some species of succulent can barely go a week without soil, so you will end up killing your plant if you attempt to keep them in gravel alone. Do your research and find a species of succulent that’s used to it.

Repot Your Succulents

If your aim is to have an exhibition-like arrangement, then the gravel method is fine. However, if you want it to last for a long time, then keeping your succulent in gravel should be a temporary arrangement only. You should plan to repot it eventually.

The roots may start growing out of the potting mix after a while. This is a succulent’s natural reaction to poor growing conditions; it’s its way of showing it’s looking for a better place for its roots.

When this happens, repot the plants to a better succulent potting mix. 

The best you can do to keep it alive and healthy. Just remember to give them the soil they need when the time is right.