Is Aquarium Gravel Safe For Succulents

These are some very fundamental DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to caring for succulents to ensure their happiness.

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Top Dressings

In your succulent pots, AVOID using moss. Although it is attractive, it retains moisture and fosters fungi and germs. Additionally, stay away from non-porous rocks like glass marbles, pea gravel, river rocks, fish rocks, sand, etc. As long as the soil has enough air to breathe, you can put a few rocks here and there as ornamentation.

USE TOP DRESSINGS THAT ALSO SERVE AS DRAINS. Shale, Turface, and pumice are my top choices. The Supplies page is a list of my shopping sources.

DO NOT utilize containers without drainage holes unless you only intend to use them for a short period of time. This applies to terrariums, jars, bowls, and mugs. And no, you cannot use them if you first fill them with soil and then place pebbles on the bottom. This fosters the growth of the bacteria that causes rot.

If there isn’t a hole in the bottom, drill it. If the container is non-porous or glazed, you should make enough holes with a ceramic or glass bit to allow the soil to dry out fast. Use a piece of screen, burlap, garlic net, or anything else that will keep the dirt in yet enable it to completely drain for larger holes.


If your succulents aren’t used to full sun, DON’T expose them to it. Most people prefer part-sun over bright indirect sun. A succulent can be burned and killed when moved from partial to full sun.

Give your succulents as much light as they can handle, but do it gradually. Put your plant in a spot that receives a little more sun than it usually does, then move it over the course of a week or more to a brighter spot. Shelves, gardens, and windows facing north will all receive less light than those facing west. South receives a wonderful combination of east and west sun, while east-facing receives morning sun.

DON’T base the frequency of your irrigation on a schedule, but rather on how dry the soil surrounding the roots is. You could wish to repot in a different container with better draining soil if the soil doesn’t dry out within a week.

DON’T rule out using a smaller, more quickly drying pot. The best clay is unglazed and has drainage holes. Improve your soil by adding more drainage components than organic ones.

DO NOT use pre-bagged potting soil with additional fertilizer as it frequently lacks the proper nutritional balance for succulents and contains an excessive amount of organic material that causes the soil to dry out too rapidly.

DON’T use anything but ordinary topsoil and a ton of drainage materials. Brown organic dirt should be present in the same quantity or less than the other ingredients. On the Care Guide page is my formula for soil.

DON’T assume the soil your plant was grown in is the best soil for that kind of succulent. Before bringing any plants home, make sure to check them for fungus and pests. Avoid purchasing plants that were housed with ill or infected plants, as well as those that have been treated with neonicotinoids or other insecticides that are harmful to the environment.

DO check the plants you’ve picked and the surrounding plants for insects and fungus before taking them inside. If necessary, and especially if the soil was moist when you acquired it, repot your succulents in good soil. Take care not to expose them to more sun than they are used to. Start with some light exposure and progressively increase it over the course of a week or longer.

Additionally, Mountain Crest Gardens offers stunning, healthy succulents that may be delivered right to your door swiftly.

Is aquarium gravel suitable for indoor plants?

Look for the tiny pebble rocks they sell in the pet aisle for fish tanks at your neighborhood pet store (or even in the pet sections of a sizable big-box grocery store).

Aquarium gravel is a fantastic choice because it comes in a variety of hues, is pre-rinsed (so there isn’t dust as you’d have with landscaping material or similarly small, bulk-purchase gravel), and is available in many different sizes. Choose hues that complement the pots your plants are in or the space where you store them.

Do pebbles look okay on succulents?

Although speaking with Laura Eubanks was motivational, we continued. Our jaws dropped when Southwest Boulder’s leading horticulturist, Laurie Fenly, revealed a few insider secrets.

Don’t make this mistake, says Laurie:

Make intelligent color selections when you’re in direct sunlight. Darker materials generate more heat, which can damage delicate succulent leaves. In sunny places, stick with lighter colored rocks.

Gambler’s Gold broken rock is one item that Laurie finds particularly noteworthy. The pink hues in Gambler’s Gold can enhance the pink borders and highlights that are common in succulents. While Gambler’s Gold’s rose tones blend well with the majority of succulents, the contrast created by the yellow and gold tones is striking. This strikes the ideal balance between the succulent and the stone.

Mexican Beach Pebbles are another choice for succulents for those of you who like a more contemporary appearance. These consistent, spherical pebbles lend your succulent garden a serene atmosphere.

My succulents are indoors or in planters and pots. Do I still need rocks?

Rocks are still your greatest friend when it comes to creating succulent arrangements, even if you only have succulents indoors or in containers.

The same rocks that Laura suggested for your succulent garden, such as Red Lava, Desert Gold, or Gambler’s Gold, can be used to top-dress your pots. Create a soft border all around your succulents in the pot to give them a beautiful frame. It only takes a few tiny pebbles to completely transform your planters.

Have a favorite rock that you like to use with your succulent garden? Comment below and let us know!

Can plants be grown on aquarium rocks?

As you may already be aware, plants can significantly alter the feel of a room. Our new Nashville home has been steadily being unpacked and renovated over the past week (yeah! ), and because it can be difficult to wait for some of the bigger tasks to be completed, I’ve tried to concentrate on some tiny things to spruce up the space in the interim. The new house has seemed a little bare without all the greenery I’m used to, so I thought now would be a great time to try a plant project I’ve been meaning to do for a long. I couldn’t bring all my plants with me during the move. You’ve probably seen those little colorful rocks in the pet store’s fish section. If you have any finned friends in your home, they won’t just liven up your fish tank—they also look fantastic on top of a terrarium or planter to add some color or texture to the foliage!

One little bag of aquarium gravel will cover multiple planters, and it comes in a variety of hues. So it’s also rather economical.

To create drainage in your planter, simply place a few simple stones at the bottom, top that with dirt, and then plant your plants in the soil.

Until the planter has a level layer of gravel on top, add bits of the colored gravel using a tiny scoop or your fingertips. Use a pen or another long, thin object to push any stones that end up in the leaves or in the center of your plants so that the gravel has a neat appearance. Remember to remove the leaves and place stones underneath them as well!

I adore the splashes of color the gravel gives the plants; it really ups the fun factor! The black and white gravel is very lovely, isn’t it? Don’t forget to check out the fish aisle the next time you’re shopping for materials to make a cool terrarium or planter! xo. Laura

Can succulents be grown on aquarium rock?

“Water must be applied and penetrate the soil within fifteen seconds. If it doesn’t, the dirt is too heavy. I was given this advise many years ago by a traditional nurseryman who specialized in cactus and succulents. When I first heard about the “fifteen second law” regarding fast-draining soil for succulents, I thought it was absurd. I became familiar with native cactus ground after relocating to the desert. Instantaneously poured water disappears into the earth. The nursery worker was correct.

Approximately half of my collection of succulent plants are now planted in tiny pots and kept inside a south-facing, unheated greenhouse during the winter. The Black Gold Cactus Mix, which drains within the allotted fifteen seconds, is where they are planted.

Soil is Everything

Many novice succulent gardeners are unaware of the fact that soil is crucial because cactus root in various ways. After the soil on the surface dries out, typical plants descend to the ground to capture moisture. Cacti in the desert respond to brief rainstorms by dispersing their weak roots over a wide area. These roots can quickly absorb water before it drains through the porous earth. A succulent’s unique tissues quickly store this water so that it will be available between widely spaced rain occurrences. Most cactus thrive in low, wide pots, pans, and bowls with big, open drain holes because they have shallow roots.

The perlite in cactus potting soil resembles little white popcorn kernels. Although it is great for the root zone, when I water, it floats to the top. This and tiny fragments of biological material become caught in the spines or land in the crevices of skin with a smooth surface. This not only looks bad, but it also directly contacts soil-borne bacteria with the plant’s skin, which might start the rotting process.

Succulent enthusiasts cover the potting soil with a coating of fine gravel to prevent these floaters by keeping everything in place when water is poured. Popular for modern containers with a more graphic appearance is white rock. I like using washed gravel as an accent stone since it looks more natural and blends in with the rocks I discover when out walking. Aquarium gravel can also be used to create compositions of succulent, pot, and surface material that are more distinctive or vividly colored.

Transplant Gently

A plant’s skin can sustain even the slightest damage, allowing bacteria to penetrate and start the process of interior cell destruction that results in softening rot. I touch each cactus delicately before transferring it to prevent even the tiniest harm. I let the plant lie bare root in the fresh air for a few days after removing it from the original pot rather than planting it right away. Before repotting in new soil, this allows any damaged roots or skin to heal over or calluses. Failure to do so results in soil pathogens coming into contact with a wound, which invariably causes interior tissues to get infected.

It becomes really impossible to overwater cactus and lovely succulents when your soil is suitably well drained for them. They grow quickly during the hotter summer months. Water frequently, feed sparingly, and above all, use Black Gold Cactus Mix to ensure that it drains in around fifteen seconds during this growing season.

About Maureen Gilmer

The most frequently recognized expert in California horticulture and photojournalism, Maureen Gilmer, is currently marking her 40th year in the field. She is a well-known photographer with numerous publications and is syndicated through Tribune Content Agency. She is the author of 21 books on gardening, design, and the environment. She specializes in arid zone plants and techniques for a changing climate in her weekly horticulture column for the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs and her writing for Desert Magazine. She works and resides in a distant high desert region where she may observe local creatures up close. The Colorful Dry Garden, her most recent book, is available from Sasquatch Books. She spends her free time riding her Arabian horse through the desert instead of writing or taking pictures. Along with her husband Jim and two rescue pit bulls, she resides in Morongo Valley. She typically rides her quarter horse outside when she isn’t writing or taking pictures.

Succulents can they grow in gravel?

Unfortunately, gravel cannot support succulent growth because it lacks the necessary water and nutrients.

However, drainage issues that might cause yellowing or death in succulents can be resolved with the use of pebbles and gravel. Potting pebbles are the name for these rocks. By placing them in the bottom of the pot, you can stop water from standing in the soil and rotting the roots.

Now, if you’ve ever seen a succulent arrangement that appears to be growing solely in rocks or gravel, the gardener really put some soil to that area first. It won’t likely be as much soil as the succulent requires, but it will be enough to keep the roots covered and supply it with a sufficient amount of nutrients.

Why are succulents covered in gravel?

Have you ever wondered why there is a layer of beautiful pebbles on top of so many succulent arrangements? Have you ever overheard someone discussing top dressing for succulents and wondered what it was or what it was used for? Pebbles are used as a layer for succulents for more reasons than just aesthetics. Learn more about top dressing and the benefits of using it on your succulents by reading on.

What Is Top Dressing?

In agriculture and gardening, top dressing is utilized. A top dressing is typically a thin, even layer of rich soil, compost, manure, or worm castings that is added to a garden bed, lawn, or field soon before planting. After that, it is tilled into the ground so that the seeds or plants can grow there. After the plants are set up, a top dressing for succulents is a uniform coating of inorganic material, such as pebbles, gravel, crushed rock, or broken seashells, that is spread over the top of the soil. The top dressing of a succulent is applied and kept in place, completely covering the soil to a depth of about a third of an inch. For plants growing in the ground or in containers, this offers a number of advantages.

Benefits of Top Dressing for Succulents

Succulents can benefit from inorganic top dressing in numerous ways:

  • Succulent top dressing aids in soil temperature regulation, protecting the roots from extreme temperature swings.
  • Light colored gravel or pebbles reflect heat, which is good in warmer climes, while dark colors absorb heat more readily, warming the soil and encouraging root growth.
  • Pebbles reduce the powerful force of water from rain or irrigation, which stops soil erosion. This prevents soil from dripping onto your plants’ leaves.
  • An inorganic top dressing that is at least 1/3 inch thick inhibits insects from laying their eggs in the moist organic soil. This is the most effective approach to get rid of bothersome gnats in your house.
  • Weed barriers are created by top treatments.
  • To prevent plastic pots and containers from blowing away, it gives them weight.
  • Before newly planted succulents fully root into the surrounding soil matrix, top dressing can assist keep them upright.

And let’s face it, uncovered earth looks less appealing than a coating of ornamental stones. I suggest putting top dressing in my advice on how to cultivate succulents because of all these benefits.

Top Dressing for Succulents

Succulent top dressings are available in a variety of hues, textures, and sizes. We typically think of ornamental pebbles, but there are other materials you can use, including sand, gravel, crushed granite, glass, fire glass, seashells, crushed coral, small stones, and pieces of semi-precious stones like amethyst, tiger eye, and quartz.

Consider your top dressing choices carefully. Make sure the sand is clean or rinsed before using it. Your plants will suffer because of the high salt content of beach sand. And ensure that the “You utilize colorfast colorful rocks that are not just powder-coated. Some landscape rocks offered for sale in home improvement stores have a color coating that peels off, coloring the plants and creating a mess. Use any designated as “Despite the fact that you can also find excellent items in aquarium stores or even fire glass for decorative fire features, top dressing. For inspiration, browse the selection of delicious top dressings in my Amazon store. Use of either is secure for succulent plants.

Succulent top dressings and pebbles come in a wide range of hues, from muted earth tones to neon-bright hues of green, blue, yellow succulent, and purple that are rarely seen in nature. What should you use then? The solution that appeals to you the most is the best one. Seriously. Who is to say that you’ll appreciate my taste if I show you and explain the factors I take into account while selecting the best dressings? I want a natural appearance that highlights the plant and harmonizes the hues and textures of the succulent and its container. But if you prefer the aesthetic of silvery-green succulents paired with pink DayGlo pebbles, rock on!

Choosing Top Dressing for Succulents

I compare succulent top dressing to jewels for clothing. It shouldn’t overpower the aesthetic or offer unnecessary intrigue. Debra Lee Baldwin may have said it best. She compares the mat for a painting to ornamental pebbles for succulent plants. The container serves as the frame, the top dressing as the mat, and the succulents as the artwork in her opinion.

To demonstrate the difference, I photographed an Echeveria Perle von Nurnberg in a ceramic succulent pot with three different top dressings. I chose black sand with a hint of glitter because the pot has a shiny, black rim. The lower portion of the pot is a shiny tan tint. I decided on caramel-colored sand and tan pebbles with a matte texture. Isn’t the distinction each creates amazing? Consider the Echeveria PVN with a top dressing that is plum-toned.

Always keep the effect you hope to achieve in mind when you choose your top dressing. Your choice of pebbles, sand, and rocks may differ from if you want to showcase the plant if the pot is particularly cool and you want to draw attention to it.

A Matter of Scale

Almost always, when people refer to top dressing for succulents, they are referring to pea gravel or decorative pebbles that are around 1/51/4 inch in size. That is the size of the tan stones I used, which are displayed with the Echeveria PVN in the middle of the trio above. But you have to admit, I find the sand to be very attractive. Although it is more challenging to reuse than pebbles for different plants, I think it looks fantastic for a single planting.

Although most people wouldn’t think to wear something this bulky, doesn’t it look magnificent? Susan Aach produced this ceramic pot by hand. She combined a Ferocactus with it and added a top dressing with a thick, rough texture to really tie the two together. I like how it looks.

Another coupling of a Susan Aach pot with a sizable top dressing is seen here. Together, they perfectly accentuate this stunning, variegated Echeveria Compton Carousel. When matching her pots, plants, and top dressings, she really displays her artistic eye. She strikes a balance between the pots’ and the plants’ aesthetic appeal to create a real synergy. Visit Susan Aach’s website to learn more about her handcrafted ceramics and look at my encounter with her. Susan, thank you for allowing us to use your lovely photos!

Are There Problems Using Top Dressing for Succulents?

If you’ve never added stones for succulents to your pots, you can have the following inquiries:

Does the soil retain moisture because of the pebbles? Regular readers are aware that choosing a fast-draining succulent soil is crucial to the wellbeing of your plants. This cannot be negotiated. How about including the pebbles now? It is true that top dressings for succulents stop the soil from evaporating and losing moisture to the air. However, you want the water to get beyond the plant’s roots and through the soil, where it can be absorbed. The value of the to dressing and a good soil more than makes up for the small quantity of evaporation wasted.

Does the top dressing restrict the soil’s and the roots’ ability to breathe? For a succulent plant to survive, its roots require oxygen. The roots may acquire oxygen thanks to tiny air pockets in the arid soil. Even a top layer of sand, pebbles, or gravel allows air to enter the soil and nourish the roots of plants. Insufficient drainage causes too much water to permeate the soil, removing air spaces and “flood the plant. Top dressing does not impede your plant’s ability to get enough oxygen.

If you can’t touch the earth, how can you tell when your succulent plants need watering? Many succulent growers focus their watering decisions on how dry their soil feels. This approach is much better for me than sticking to a rigid timetable. Even better, water your succulents when they show signs of needing it rather than before. My ideal tool to measure the water content of soil is a chopstick “moisture gauge Place the chopstick in the ground. Do not water if it emerges feeling or looking moist or with earth clinging to it. It’s time to water when it comes out clean and dry!