How To Use Lava Rock For Succulents

No matter your level of experience with growing succulents, you are aware that they are desert plants and hence prefer soilless mixture. Let’s call it “potting mix” or “substrates” instead of “soil” as I don’t think we should even be using that term.

To encourage porosity while holding onto moisture is the secret to successful succulent potting soil.

By now, we should be aware that peat or regular compost are not ideal for succulents. If you’re wondering, the answer is no, not even “Westland Succulent Potting Mix,” because when I used them in the past, they held on to too much moisture. The “Cactus Refocus Potting Mix” is an alternative that also contains peat, sand, grit, and loam; it is a little bit superior. It’s entirely acceptable to continue using them, but to improve air circulation and water drainage, I would advise mixing some additional growing media (see below) to your store-bought potting mix.

Well, my beginner’s guide makes it clear that I advise using normal compost plus perlite and vermiculite plus clay pebbles. Do not misunderstand me; this is still one of my preferred potting mixes. This, in my opinion, is ideal for young succulents or new plants that need to root.

Anyhow, it appears that many individuals have a problem with perlite “floating” on top of soil after watering, based on the responses I received to my questionnaire. Add some decorative grit or stones as a quick fix.

Since my plants are more mature—the majority of which I am selling—they require different kinds of potting soil. Succulents in their mature state require high porosity but require less water overall. Don’t you think mature succulents resemble bonsai, and my Korean suppliers grow them in bonsai potting soil. FYI, most bonsai planting mixes lack dirt.

Before we begin, I would like to make clear that despite my request, these products are not linked with me. These are based on my research and experience. Again, I’m not an expert, and I’m constantly learning about new potting mixes.

Black or red horticultural lava rock is the choice (lapilli or lapillo). Iron, magnesium, nitrogen, and other minerals found in abundance in lava rocks are great for healthy succulents.

The one I purchased from Amazon, Primeis lapillo, is from Italy (I believe), costs about 18.30 for 20l, and is available in other sizes (upto 25mm). These substantial lapillos are very adaptable; in addition to being attractive as decorations, they also retain moisture well and give my succies nutrients. Lapillos typically weigh a little more than the others. I do get some grits when I crush the chunky lapillo, and I can also use it as grit sand. Do you realise that their earthy red tone will also darken when moistened?

I also purchased some black lava rock from Amazon Prime ($25 for 25kg), and I simply adore their feel. They are available in lesser sizes between 1 and 5 mm. Most significantly, they have been cleaned; therefore, there is barely any dirt. What is the potential time savings by smashing the rocks? The response is a lot.

Additionally, I endorse Kaizen Bonsai because they offer nicer lapillos at a very affordable price. If you can get volcanic rocks for your potting mix, you can forego using plant food (for succulents).

Numerous fans of succies and bonsai have valued Akadama. Succulents are grown in pure Akadama soil in Japan and Korea. Japanese volcanic clays called “Akadama” retain moisture while allowing for optimum airflow. They are well-liked since they are among the least expensive growth media accessible in Japan; nonetheless, a bag of imported Akadama probably costs between $20 and $28 for a 14-liter supply. I combine some of the 7l bag’s contents with others since I only have one. I can understand why people like these because they are very light but substantial enough to resist being carried away by high winds.

My conclusion: I honestly don’t know. I keep going back to buy more since they blend well, but I suppose the major reason is that Akadama is made of volcanic particles, which give succulents natural nutrients?

German clay particles are known as Seramis. The clay goes through a unique porisation process to attain an amazing pore capacity of over 80%. After that, the clay is burned at a low temperature that further enhances its capacity to store water. In this sense, Seramis is calcined clay rather than baked clay, but they still retain moisture and have decent airflow. The fact that they are a bit pricey—approximately 10.95 for a 7-liter bottle—means that the issue is moot at this point.

also known as Danish Pink or Biosorb You may be wondering why I am bringing up kitty litter. The Horticultural Moler from Kaizen Bonsai, which retails for $9.75 for 14l, is appropriate for horticulture because it has already been cleansed. This calcined hard clay, which is quite small, can contain an incredible quantity of moisture while maintaining good airflow.

These are definitely the smallest growth mediums, but I adore using them. Many manufacturers have repackaged them as cat litter due to these characteristics. However, it seems that commercially available automobile litter is sometimes rather dusty and needs to be rinsed and dried before use. Since molers tend to dry out more quickly than other types, I actually use two sizes in my mixture. This is especially helpful during the hot, muggy summer.

Another calcined clay with comparable uses is turfaces, however it is mostly accessible in the United States.

My recommendation is to use turfaces, seramis, or any horticultural moler. I don’t really have access to the other two, but I especially like horticultural molers because of their relatively modest size and the roots they provide, in my opinion.

The burned clay grains are known as kyodama. In order to avoid root rot, Kyodoma maintains a very high AFP (air filled porosity) and doesn’t degrade. Naturally, I recently acquired one bag for myself to follow the trend. Oh yes, they are a bit costly but rather lightweight. They have a good capacity to store nutrients, did I say that?

My conclusion: I adore using these, and I was able to find the identical model from Kaizen Bonsai (trade under different name due to Kyodama trademark). And the texture really appeals to me.

Clay is typically heated to 11001200 degrees Celsius in a rotating kiln to create clay pebbles. The clay expands as a result of the heating process. The final product is a very porous, rough-finished medium that excels at oxygenating any nutrient solution that runs over it and retains moisture. For your information, clay pebbles are lighter than Seramis and Moler.

The Vitalink Clay Pebbles are my favourite; they’re inexpensive and a part of Amazon Prime. They are pre-washed and come in a variety of sizes. Earthy colour is also available at Ikea for 3.50 for 5l.

My conclusion is that getting clay pebbles for bottom the pot is a no-brainer because they are lightweight, especially if you have a tall pot, and you can crush them to mix.

Pumice is a light material that is essentially volcanic glass. Pumice has the capacity to hold moisture and release it when dry. This pumice’s open, free-draining nature minimises water logging while allowing for proper plant root development and aeration.

Unfortunately, the options for horticultural grade are limited. The cheapest I could find starts at 8 for a 7-litre container and comes from Kaizen. If you’re particular, get the Ikea version, which has been washed; 3 for 3l, as their Horticulrtural Pumice contains quite a lot of dust and the sizes are fairly random.

I recently discovered that the same supplier from whom I purchased the lava rocks also carries horticulture pumice, and guess what? They are very little (between 1-4mm), which is great. 32.95 is a bit expensive, but in my opinion, it’s worth it.

Kanuma is essentially the Japanese word for pumice. These are clearly clean, and the sizes are ideal. Because they are so pricey, I was originally hesitant to purchase them, but after learning that they have a pH of 5.5, I was ready to say, “Just take my money.” Yes, it would be nice if I could save some time by collecting rainwater and replacing it with slightly acidic substrates. I’m trying to persuade myself that it will be a wise investment.

In my opinion, kanuma is significantly lighter than pumice. I’ve read that Kanuma can absorb moisture better than pumice, and I wholeheartedly concur because Kanuma turns pretty gold when wet and can hold onto moisture longer than pumice. The one I received is about 3-5mm, so it adds considerable volume to the mix. Although compared to other substrates, Kanuma is unquestionably the most expensive.

Although Rootgrow contains organic Mycorrhizal fungi, which gives succulents a good boost, this is technically not growing media. A good root system is one of the many advantages of rootgrow. You can get it from pretty much any garden centre, but again, if you work five days a week like I do, Amazon Prime would be your best option since I want all of my items to arrive by Saturday so I can spend the entire weekend in my garden.

Crushed limestone and granite make up the majority of the potting grit (5 kg for 5 kg).

They do retain moisture while also offering efficient drainage. These offer good value and are less expensive.

My recommendation is to skip these if you plan to purchase the growing medias mentioned above. Sand and potting grits tend to be a little heavier, so if you buy these, mix them with other lightweight growing medium. Grit from potting does look fantastic as a topping.

Let’s now discuss the ratio. The golden ratio is always one aspect of everything, despite the fact that there are a tonne of other ratios out there.

One part of each is the simplest approach:

  • Potting Grit, Moler, Akadama, Seramis, and 1 part
  • Kanuma and pumice in one portion
  • Lava Rock’s lone piece
  • 1 part of potting grit or sand (optional)
  • Optional: a small amount of regular peat soil (if you are little freaked out about my crazy soilless potting mix)

affordable method:

  • 1 part of potting grit or sand
  • 1 component of pumice or perlite
  • Clay Pebbles in a half-part
  • a few pieces of vermiculite
  • little amount of peat soil

The one I’m utilising right now:

  • 2 components, medium Vacuum Rocks
  • Horticultural pumice in either one or two portions ( I have 2 versions now)
  • Horticultural Moler’s one component (as they are very tiny)
  • One piece of Kyodama
  • 12 of an Akadama
  • One-half of Kanuma
  • One serving of Rootgrow (it comes with a scoop)
  • I also use clay lapillo/pebbles as the bottom of the pot.

builds upon version 2.1 by adding Kanuma and Kyodama (a similar variation) to the mix.

You can use the potting mixture mentioned above for your young succulents, but I’ve warned you in advance that it will take them longer to adapt because the potting mixture is soilless. Once they have, however, they will become stronger and create “woody” stems.

Succulent gardening is a costly hobby that takes a lot of time and work. Since there is no set ratio, it truly comes down to personal style and most crucially, affordability. You can experiment with the ratio since these growing media pretty much retain good moisture while offering porosity. Sometimes I just combine whatever is on hand.

As can be seen, the left was grown since April 19 using substrate mix and rootgrow, whereas the right was grown since November 18 using regular soil and perlite. You can clearly see how closely these two compare. Just so you know, the photo was taken in November of last year. P.S. Having succulents that are root-bound is a sign that they are healthy and prepared for stress.

I am now beginning to sell hand mixed potting soil since I understand that if you are a beginner you just do not have the space to store so many various types of mixtures. Now, you may purchase from here:

It’s quite fine if you can’t find any of these substrates. Normal compost combined with vermiculite or perlite will work, or if after reading this you are unsure about using normal compost but still can’t find the substrates, just go into any building supply store and ask for highly coarse, sharp sand. They perform!

A Passive Plant Humidifier

It can occasionally be difficult to give your tropical houseplants the right amount of humidity, especially in the winter months when our central heating systems cause the air in our homes to go a little drier. While misting is a possibility, employing lava rocks might be a less strenuous and more reliable answer.

If you soak a layer of lava rocks in water and place them either in the saucer of your plant’s pot or on a tray underneath the pot, the lava rocks will gradually let the water they have held to evaporate into the air around them. The humidity levels in the air surrounding your plant will gradually rise as a result of this. When the lava rocks appear to be dry, add more water to re-soak them.

You must take into account how warm your plant’s environment is while determining how frequently you should re-soak your lava rocks. Thankfully, drying out of your lava rocks can be seen visibly; they will look lighter in colour and more dusty. Additionally, there is little danger of getting your lava rocks “too moist.” You won’t run the risk of passively overwatering the plant above if you keep the water level in the saucer below the top of the lava rocks.

Can you surround plants with lava rock?

Lava rock can work wonders as mulch in gardens that have a semi-slope. Except for weeds, it is one of the best methods for reducing soil erosion, preserving ideal soil health, and encouraging natural growth.

Lava rocks can inhibit the invasion of weeds for a considerable amount of time, but nothing ever completely stops them. You can use it as mulch by following the instructions listed below.

  • Make sure the area is free of all debris and that there are no weeds in the soil. If you miss any, they will grow and reproduce despite the lava rock or weed barrier cloth being present.
  • Determine the desired rock’s size. To give the yard greater depth, landscape designers advise utilising a variety of various size plants. For mulch around trees and bushes, you can choose boulders that are 2 to 4 inches in diameter. Use rocks between one and two inches in diameter for the space surrounding plants and flowerbeds.
  • Mulch should be placed two feet away from all plants. You can pile volcanic rock next to trees and shrubs, but because plants are more delicate, their sharp edges can puncture through them.

You may use volcanic rocks as mulch to your garden in just three easy steps. You can get creative and designate various colours for certain spaces. To counteract the red’s brightness, which many people find odd, you may even use a combination of red, grey, and black. It also gives the yard a more organic, earthy appearance.