In a world of different types of gardening, there are areas that people won’t agree on. Some have even failed to get answers. For instance, can succulents grow in rocks without soil?
Some gardeners believe that you must have soil at the bottom of the pot when planting succulents in rocks. At the same time, others believe that succulents can survive on mediums such as rocks, gravel, or wood chipping without soil.
The answer is a yes and a no. Yes, when you mix the rocks with soil. And no, when you only use rocks to grow them. Succulents can’t survive in rocks without soil. Then, what makes people think succulents can survive in rocks as a growing medium?
Before we explain how succulents can grow in rocks without soil, you must know how to care for them.
Succulents are popular plants for their ease of care. They are often planted in sandy, well-draining soil and in rocky gardens. They also thrive well as indoor plants in containers. So, they will thrive if grown in the right conditions.
They have thick skins on the stems and leaves that store water. That means they can survive with minimal water and will be stressed if they are overwatered. Excess water can cause root rot.
The main purpose of rocks in succulents is to increase the water drainage from the container’s bottom. The rocks are placed at the bottom of the water to ensure excess water drains out of the container.
Can succulents grow in rocks without soil?
Succulents are hardy plants known to survive in harsh weather conditions, but this doesn’t mean they can survive everywhere. They can grow in various media, such as soil, compost, and water. But they can’t grow in rocks for more than two weeks. They will die after some time if you move them into a rock medium.
So, why can’t succulents grow in rocks without soil?
Succulents are like other typical plants. They require water, sunlight, and nutrients to grow and survive. So, for any medium to support its growth, it should supply the plant with the necessary nutrients when growing.
Potting soil or garden soil can supply a plant with nutrients. Also, when you add fertilizer or compost to the soil, it mixes easily, and the nutrients are spread evenly through the soil such that the roots of a succulent can receive nutrients evenly.
On the other hand, rocks or gravel are complex materials. Some rocks can supply nutrients to your succulents but produce them slowly, which is not ideal for a growing plant. Also, you can’t mix them with other materials or add nutrients.
There is a possibility of growing succulents in rocks without soil, however, the succulents will have problems receiving nutrients on time.
Why should you choose soil over rocks when planting succulents?
- When you think about it, soil offers more than just nutrients. It offers air pockets that absorb excess moisture, and rocks can’t offer that. So, the plant will die over time if there is excess moisture in the rocks.
- Rocks have large spaces between each other, creating pockets for pests and insects. In soil, there are no open spaces, thus protecting the plant from pests and diseases that will try to attack the roots.
- Succulents can grow in rocks without soil, but the rocks can’t protect them in case of harsh weather conditions. For instance, weather conditions like wind or water can blow or move rocks. On the other hand, these conditions can’t affect the soil, leaving your roots intact and safe.
You should grow succulents in potting soil instead of trying to see if succulents can survive in rocks.
How to correctly grow succulents in rocks
Since rocks can’t provide plants with enough nutrients during their growing period, the succulents can’t survive in rocks without soil.
The best way to use rocks in growing succulents is to use them as aesthetics on top of the soil or at the bottom to improve drainage.
You can make your plant look like it’s growing in rocks alone. Fill the container with succulent potting soil, plant the succulent, and then cover the soil with a thick layer of rocks. This will cover the soil, making it look like your succulent can grow in rocks.
It’s possible, except for terrariums or glass jars. Terrariums are enclosed containers. They are visible from all sides, making it hard to hide the soil between the rocks. Also, they lack drainage holes, which can be a problem growing succulents.
How to plant succulents in rocks and soil
So, if you want to plant your succulents in rocks, you must add soil to the mixture. Here is how you do it.
- First, choose the rocks you want and place them at the bottom of the container until you fill the bottom third.
- Add succulent soil or cactus mix (avoid using regular potting soil) into the container until it’s two-thirds and the rocks are covered.
- Scatter the succulents around the container. Then cover the roots with soil to hold down the plant. Ensure each plant has enough space to grow fully without pushing the other plant.
- Water the succulents thoroughly to ensure they have enough water.
- Finally, place rocks on top of the soil and around the plant to cover the soil and make it look like succulents can grow in rocks.
Importance of rocks in growing succulents
Rocks can act as mulch, organic material, or aesthetics for your home. But when growing your succulents, they have significant benefits. Here are the benefits of using rocks when growing succulents.
- Rocks provide a barrier from wind, especially if the container is at ground level. Strong winds are capable of uprooting your plant from the soil.
- Placing rocks on top of the container covers the root from exposure to direct sunlight. That means the plant will require less water.
- Rocks allow air to flow freely around the soil, which ensures that water doesn’t remain stagnant on top of the soil when it rains or snows.
- Rocks offer a sense of decor or stability to a space.
Different types of rocks you can use in a succulent garden
Can succulents grow in rocks without soil? You already know that succulents can’t grow in rocks without soil. You can use them for other purposes, but not for plant growth.
Soil provides nutrients for the roots and ensures that the roots are strong to hold the plant. Without roots, I can’t even tell what your succulent will look like. It will probably die within a few weeks.
When you are growing succulents, ensure that you add soil. Plants must get nutrients.