Can Succulents Grow in Pebbles? (Facts You Should Know)

Can Succulents Grow in Pebbles
Can Succulents Grow in Pebbles

Can succulents grow in pebbles? I got this question from an email a couple of days ago. One of the readers wonders whether or not succulents can grow with just pebbles. In this post, I will share with you some facts that you should know as a succulent grower.

The curiosity about this topic, I believe comes from the fact that people are seeing those beautiful succulent arrangements in terrariums. Those succulents come with sand and pebbles and seem to have no soil at all.

As a result, many people wonder (this may include you) whether or not succulents can survive without soil.

So, can succulents grow in pebbles alone? Well, my answer is, succulents can survive for a short period of time without soil just pebbles. But definitely won’t be able to grow or thrive for long.

Come to think of it. Although succulents are resilient and native to semi-desert areas, they still need a little bit of soil for their nutrient source.

Pebbles alone have no nutrients that succulents could depend upon as their main food source. Those terrarium and beautiful succulent arrangements that you see are not meant to last long. In most cases, they are for short term fun.

However, there are people who argue that succulents can indeed thrive in pebbles as long as you provide a good source of nutrients like fertilizer. Again, succulents won’t be able to grow in pebbles alone.

Why Soil is Important for Succulents?

Since succulents are native to semi-desert areas; many people think that these plants can grow without soil at all. But that is not entirely true.

The truth is that succulents, like other plants, do need soil for their long term survival. However, the only thing that makes these plants unique from their counterparts is that succulents don’t need protein-rich soil.

What they need and love instead is a soil that has a good combination of organic and inorganic materials. The resulting growing medium should be fast draining.

In planting succulents, make sure that you choose the fast-draining soil (click here to check my favorite succulent soil on Amazon). This soil contains the perfect blend of organic and organic matters needed for succulents.

Soil nutrient is just one succulent requirement. The other one is aeration. What this means is that, unlike other plants, succulents need soil that allows them to breathe freely. This is the reason why succulents don’t like compact soil.

Lastly, succulents are vulnerable to root rotting. When the roots are soaked in water, they will most likely suffer from rotting. Using a fast-draining soil will keep the succulent plants safe from rotting.

A fast-draining soil does not only provide aeration but also good drainage. If you are planting succulents indoor, choosing a soil that does not absorb too much moisture is very important.

Too much water is the worst enemy of succulent plants. The combination of organic and inorganic materials will provide a healthy growing medium for succulents.

How to Prolong Succulents’ Lives Without Soil?

After learning the importance of soil to the longevity of succulents, you might still want to try those beautiful arrangements that don’t have soil.

However, without soil succulents usually need something to attach to. And the most common medium is driftwood.

You can have a beautiful driftwood arrangement like those you have seen on many websites. But aside from the driftwood, another thing you need are materials such as coco fiber (check this on Amazon) and sphagnum moss (check my favorite one on Amazon).

These materials will hold the moisture that succulents need in order to live longer. Like epiphytes, succulents in driftwood arrangements need something to hold on to that could also provide moisture.

The first thing you need to do is to attach the moss or coir onto the driftwood by using a wire. Then attach the succulent plants. After a few weeks, the roots will grow and the plants will be attached to the moss or coir even more strongly.

But remember that these materials don’t have nutrients that succulents need. So the last thing you need is fertilizer. Without soil, succulents don’t have a source of protein. So fertilizing the plants is a good idea.

Just add a diluted fertilizer about ¼ to ½ strength into the water. This is the best strategy in this case. Then mist the plants using this mixture to provide the nutrients. This will do and help them grow or thrive longer in that setup.

Final Thought on Can Succulents Grow in Pebbles

Succulents can probably survive in pebbles without soil for a short period of time. But certainly, not for long.

This is because succulents do need nutrients too. Pebbles don’t have nutrients that succulents need. Therefore, they won’t be able to survive for long.

If you really want to grow succulents without soil, make sure that you provide an extra source of nutrients. Adding fertilizer is a good idea.

I hope this helps. If you want to learn more about succulents, you can visit my succulent guide.

Thank you for reading!

Related Questions

Can succulents grow in rocks without soil?

Succulents won’t be able to grow in rocks alone. They need nutrients coming from organic materials. However, they don’t need nutrient-rich soil in order to survive. What they need is a soil that has a perfect combination of organic and inorganic matters for them to thrive longer.

Can succulents grow in gravel?

Succulents cannot grow in gravel alone. They still need a little bit of soil for them to survive. But gravel is a good addition to make the soil fast-draining which will in turn provides the succulents good aeration.

Should I put rocks in my succulents?

Adding rocks into succulent soil is a great idea to provide the plant with good drainage. You can also use sand, gravel, or volcanic rock to enhance aeration and breathability.

Can succulents grow in rocks without soil?

Succulents can stay alive in rocks without soil for a short period of time. But not for long. Adding fertilizer though can allow succulents to live longer. To learn more about this topic, read my complete article on Can Succulents Grow in Rocks Without Soil.


I am a university teacher by profession, researcher, blogger, and gardener.

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