If there is a plant one could compare to the proverbial cat with nine lives, it would be succulents.
They are known to be resilient and survive unfavorable conditions that other plants cannot. Planting succulents is, therefore, easy and stress-free.
They grow in deserts and close to seabeds where the soil is filled with minerals. However, most plants are not epiphytes.
They have extensive roots that need sufficient soil to grow and flourish. They need the nutrients, moisture, and warmth provided by the right soil to survive.
Gravels, rocks, and pebbles cannot support plants’ growth alone as they do not have what plants need.
The ideal soil for succulents is well-drained. As a result of this, most gardeners have come up with the practice of adding rocks or gravels to the potting mix.
These are commonly referred to as potting pebbles. Rocks and gravels are primarily used when potting succulents to improve drainage.
Placing stones on the bottom of the pot enhances drainage and prevents root rot. Succulents and cacti naturally grow in sandy soils that drain quickly, and their roots should never be left in wet soil.
The rocks help move water through the soil quickly so that the soil remains well-drained
Also, using rocks and pebbles on your soil can improve the aesthetic appeal of your succulents. If you have ever seen one of these, you will know that they are creative and beautiful.
But the real question is: can succulents survive on rocks and gravel alone? Succulent needs soil to survive, and they cannot survive on rocks and gravels alone.
You may be wondering how other gardeners achieve these arrangements. The truth is that they add some soil before they arrange the gravels, sand, rocks, and pebbles.
The soil is not the usual quantity of soil used to plant succulents but enough to bury the roots or supply the necessary nutrients.
A typical potting arrangement with gravels and bricks usually has an inch layer of soil at the base or in between. You can either fill the pot with gravel and then put soil on top of the gravels and put more gravel over the soil.
Or, you can put the soil at the base and add the gravel on top of the soil.
There are smart ways of ensuring that your succulents survive this arrangement for some time. I will explain these tips below.
Can You Plant Succulents in Just Rocks or Gravel? How To Do It
Apart from moisture gotten from the soil, one other important soil content succulents cannot do without are the nutrients in the soil.
If you must make this arrangement work, you must provide the plants with sufficient nutrients.
You can make your potting mix condensed with enough fertilizers, either organic or inorganic, to support the growth of your succulents for as long as they will remain in this arrangement.
You can also apply the fertilizers tropically on the soil when the succulents are planted already. You can also opt for soluble fertilizers that you can frequently add to the soil.
What is important is that your plants should not lack the necessary nutrients to keep them healthy and beautiful. If your succulents don’t get enough nutrients, they will begin to die or start looking weak and pale.
If you notice that your plants are not as green and beautiful as you want them to be, this is a sign that you need to feed them. You may not have to fertilize as frequently as you should since the soil is nutrient-packed.
Top Up The Soil Occasionally
If you are going to work with this arrangement, then your orchids need a constant soil refill. After one to two weeks, top up the soil in the pot to provide them with sufficient soil to grow in.
Plants need a certain amount of soil to survive. The soil needs to cover the base of its roots, at least. If the soil is no longer sufficient to cover the base of their roots, you need to top it up. When doing this, you don’t need to take out the rocks and gravel.
You can simply pour in the soil and shake the pot so that the soil settles down where it needs to. It would be stressful if you had to remove everything in the potting mix each time you want to add more soil as you would be doing that often.
Use the Right Species
If you are going to stick with this arrangement, it’s best to use certain species of succulents. For instance, the tropical cacti epiphyte can survive with a small amount of soil.
They usually grow on barks and branches of trees. This is the right species to use for this type of arrangement and not any kind of succulents.
Some succulents can barely go a week without soil, and you will end up killing the plants if you attempt this with them. Ensure that you use a more tolerant species of succulents that can survive this arrangement.
Mist Your Succulents
Succulents love moisture, and they can absorb moisture from the leaves and through the roots. They conserve moisture, but they also need to be watered consistently so that they can always replenish what was lost.
Since your plants do not have enough access to soil, it will be difficult for them to absorb moisture through their roots. Therefore, it is not advisable to water the way you would typically by watering the soil directly.
There is technically no soil to hold the water, and you may end up with a waterlogged pot. The best way to ensure that your succulents still get as much moisture they need to thrive is by misting.
Misting simply entails spraying the leaves and stems of your plants with water through a spray bottle. When you shower your succulents, the leaves absorb water and transport the water to the stem and roots. This way, your plants will get enough water and not die of thirst.
Repot Your Succulents
Ultimately, this should be a temporary arrangement. If you want to create a beautiful pattern to display your succulent collection at an exhibition, you can use this method.
However, you should plan to repot your succulents to a better potting mix eventually. Most succulents will not survive this arrangement for a long time, and if you do not want to kill your plants, you should have a plan to repot them.
After some time, you may notice that your succulent roots will start growing out of the potting mix. This is a natural reaction to unfavorable conditions as the plant will start looking for comfortable places to put its roots.
When this happens, you should repot the plants to a better succulent potting mix.
Planting succulents on rocks and gravels is very innovative, and it makes your plants more beautiful. These plants are usually grown in transparent pots to display the beautiful arrangement of the rocks, gravels, and pebbles.
It is eye-catchy, and you may be tempted to use this to plant your succulents. However, you should know that most succulents cannot survive in this medium for a long time.
The best you can do to prolong its stay there is by adopting the mechanisms discussed above. However, give them the soil they need in the right quantity as soon as you can.