Succulents don’t like dense soil. Compact soil stores water which in turn causes root rot. Because they are native to semi-desert areas, they love a mixture of sand and soil with a gritty texture. The use of potting pebbles is a good idea to allow the succulents to grow healthily by themselves, without a need to keep your eye on them too often–unless you simply want to savor in their beauty of course.
Before we look at the details, let me sum things up: Potting pebbles are helpful for succulents. They provide drainage, root anchor, and aesthetic value. Pebbles do not just help succulents grow healthily. They also help them to look even better in their colorful pots! Let’s discuss each of the benefits, and then we will also look at some brands of pebbles your succulents will enjoy.
Drainage always matters
Succulents grow better in fast-draining soil. This means that the soil should provide water exit point. One of the best ways to make a fast-draining soil is mixing the succulent soil with potting pebbles. This way the excess water will easily drain leaving nothing but moisture.
Without drainage, the excess water will stay at the bottom of the pot. This is bad for succulents. They are not accustomed to such conditions, since in their native lands (semi-desert areas) they never experience it. As a result, they may develop several growth problems. One of which is darkening or developing dark spots on leaves or stems.
Related: Can Succulents Grow in Rocks?
Pebbles provide great anchor for the roots
The second benefit of incorporating potting pebbles into your succulent soil is that potting pebbles provide root anchor. Most plants establish stability with soil. But succulents’ roots are more stable and rigid when roots are anchored on pebbles.
Therefore, potting pebbles provides strength to the whole plant. With sufficient pebbles to hold on to, the plants will grow healthily and naturally, and won’t have a tendency to fall over, even if it grows quite big–which is a common problem with some succulents.
Aesthetic value shouldn’t be downplayed
On the top of drainage and root anchor, potting pebbles also add to the aesthetic value of the plant. That being said, pots look more beautiful with pebbles than without them. As simple as that.
However, putting potting pebbles along with the succulents requires understanding color harmony. This means that you should make sure that the color of the pebbles will match well with the color of the plant. Another thing to remember when putting pebbles in the pot is the size and shape. Depending on the type of succulents you are growing, size matters to maximize the aesthetic effect.
How to prepare potting pebbles for succulents?
Before putting the pebbles into the pot, make sure that you thoroughly clean them. My usual practice is that I soak pebbles in the water for a couple of hours. This will soften the soil and kill the elements that may get into the pot with the pebbles. This is very important especially if you reuse the pebbles from the other pot, perhaps one from a succulent that has died as a result of some fungal infection.
For easy cleaning, you can mix the water with fragrant liquid soap. Wash them thoroughly. Make sure that the pebbles are totally cleaned by rinsing them with clean water. After the pebbles are cleaned, it is time to place them in the pot. The first thing to do is to pour the pebbles first into the pot making a layer about an inch thick. This enhances the drainage system of the soil mix you are using for your succulents.
If you are using a pot with drainage holes, it is important to consider the size of the pebbles. For smaller ones, you might need a mesh over the hole to hold the pebbles and prevent them from slipping through. Then fill the rest of the pot with the fast-draining soil mix. Plant the succulents in the soil. Then make another layer of pebbles around the succulents. The pot should look amazing after spreading pebbles at the top of it.
Best potting pebbles for succulents
If you are serious in making your succulent garden even more colorful and vibrant, you need potting pebbles that are colorful and have perfect shape and size. For my garden, I use potting pebbles that I bought online and I would like to share with you my trusted brands, just to help you make a good selection. Let’s start.
This brand offers stunning potting pebbles for succulents. The stones come in different natural shades such as white, red, grey, and brown. The pebbles are perfect for succulents on any given occasion. The color of the stones is just amazing, as I can see in my own garden. It makes my plants even more eye-catchy as they already are. Click here to check customers’ reviews and current price on Amazon (* this is an affiliate link, if you make a purchase I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you).
Natural decorative polished mixed pebbles
These decorative pebble stones have multiple uses perfect for flower arrangements, succulent containers, and other small applications. What I like the most about these pebbles is that they come in multiple natural shapes and colors. There is no toxic chemical added so the stones are safe for the plant and environment–which is more important than ever in the world we live in.
What I like the most about these pebbles is the way they are polished. The stones are clean, dust-free and shiny. Safe for kids too. Click here to check them on Amazon.
Small River Pebbles
This brand of potting pebbles produces safe and non-toxic stones for succulents and other potted plants. It is all-natural and free from any toxic chemicals. The stones were thoroughly rinsed so you don’t have to worry about safety, and can place them in the pot without cleaning them at home again.
The pebbles are not only perfect for succulents but also for other types of ornamental plants. The colors of the stones are also perfect for indoor and outdoor gardens. The stones have vibrant colors that add aesthetic value to the plants. Click here to check them on Amazon.
Mexican Beach Pebbles
The Mexican Beach Pebbles are natural stones from Baja California. Due to their perfect color and size, these potting pebbles are commonly used by professionals for their landscaping projects.
The vibrant colors make landscaping and gardening even more exciting. Not only that, these pebbles keep moisture in the soil while draining the excess water. As a result, your succulents will always be safe from over-watering. Click here to check them on Amazon.
So, that’s my selection, I hope you found at least one favorite there, and I wish you happy growing and a lot of fun with your new pebbles :).
Q: Can succulents be planted in gravel?
A: I always get this question from my readers. Here’s a thing you need to remember: Succulents need nutrients from the soil. And those necessary ingredients for healthy growth cannot be found in rocks or gravel. Therefore, although succulents love gravel and pebbles, they also need soil. So, can succulents thrive in just gravel? I don’t think so. But if gravel is mixed with soil, that would be a perfect soil mix for succulents. The soil provides nutrients to the plants and the gravel provides drainage which is important for healthy growth.
Q: Is aquarium gravel safe for succulents?
A: Using aquarium gravel for succulents is definitely fine. Many people have tried it including me. And it worked. Aquarium gravel will also provide drainage for the plant. My only worry is that when you use aquarium gravel for your succulents without washing or rinsing it thoroughly. The gravel may contain marine components that may not good for the succulents.
Q: Can you use play sand for succulents?
A: This is another question I get especially from those who are living near the beaches. My take on this is that beach sand can be too dense for the succulents. Although it provides drainage, the succulents may not be able to breathe in the sand. My suggestion is that use coarse sand instead of beach sand. Coarse sand does not only provide drainage but also allows the succulents to breathe. Suffocation often happens in plants with dense soil and sand.
Q: Should you put out rocks in the bottom of a planter? For me, it is both not necessary and detrimental to the growth of your plants. The reason why this wrong belief emerged is that people think that rocks create air pockets in the bottom of the pot that will help water to drain through the soil. The truth is you don’t need rocks to provide better drainage for your succulents. In fact, rocks do not actually help. Another problem with rocks is that the roots of the succulents will not be able to anchor. This is because the roots are shorter. This means that rocks do not provide stability to the plants. I don’t recommend putting rocks. Use potting pebbles instead.
Potting pebbles offer several benefits to the succulents. They help the succulents grow healthier and more beautiful. The color and size of the pebbles add to the amazing characteristics of the succulents.
However, growing succulents require a lot of trial and error. Not everything you read online really works on your personal journey. So take time to indulge in the process of growing succulents and be patient. If you are determined, you will ultimately succeed. Good luck!