Succulents look charming in dish pots and terraria. Their various colors and shapes make them attractive in these indoor arrangements, especially alongside white pebbles and colored rocks. But can succulents grow in rocks, or do they also need soil? Read on to learn more about these hardy but lovely plants.
Can succulents grow in rocks?
No, succulents cannot grow in rocks alone. They need succulent soil or potting mix to support their roots and to be able to obtain nutrients. If you wish to create a “just rock” look for succulents for a particular event or gathering, it is still feasible, but this will not work on a long-term basis.
Succulents need a growing medium, succulent soil, to stay healthy and nourished. Some arrangements, such as terraria, may create the illusion that the plants are only growing in rocks, but in reality certain techniques have been applied to hide the soil.
Methods to achieve the “just rock” look for succulents
Here are some methods that create a “just rock” illusion:
1. Placing rocks or pebbles in a terrarium or glass jar
This method requires rocks of various sizes to hide the soil and to make sure that the soil won’t fall through the rocks and into view. To create this, you need to decide what rocks or pebbles you want to show on the outside. Choosing smaller pebbles makes it easier, while different types of rocks also add attractiveness to the succulent arrangement.
If you prefer big rocks, it is a good idea to place smaller rocks behind them to prevent the soil from falling through. Position the rocks you want to feature at the bottom of the glass container or terrarium. Fill the gaps with small pebbles or gravel, and you can use a cloth to stop the soil from getting through to the glass.
Create the look you want for your terrarium, positioning a layer of pebbles supported by the potting medium. The ideal height is usually halfway up the glass bowl, but some plant enthusiasts fill the bowl to the top.
Position your chosen succulents in the terrarium, but first shake the soil from their roots. If the roots are too spread out you can cut them back a bit without harming the plants. Make a hole in the potting mix wide enough for the roots and cover with more potting mix.
If you are using a smaller jar or terrarium with a narrow opening, you will need some equipment like a spatula or tweezers to place the plants inside the jar and arrange them properly. Once everything is in place, you may add more pebbles to hide any visible traces of soil at the top.
2. Planting succulents in plastic pots in a glass jar or terrarium
This is considered an easy method since there is no soil to worry about, but you should ensure that the glass vessel is the right fit. The number of succulents will also be limited unless the glass container is quite large, since the pots take up a lot of space.
You need to check that the plastic pot fits in the glass jar and still leaves enough space around it for the pebbles. Put a few pebbles at the bottom of the glass, then place the plastic pot and start building around it until you reach the desired height for your arrangement. Opt for smaller pots, about five or seven cm in size or diameter, since they are easier to work with.
This method works best with cuttings, as it allows you to place at least six different succulents in a 10 cm plastic pot.
3. Planting succulents in pots or cans and other containers
Achieving the just rock look in a pot is easy since all you need to do is plant the succulents of your choice using some succulent potting mix. Allow some space on the top for the rocks and add some pebbles if you want to. If the succulent is already in a plastic pot when you purchased it and this pot fits into the ornamental pot you want to use for your plant, then you are in luck. You simply place the plastic into the final pot and place some pebbles on top until the whole top opening is entirely covered.
4. Placing succulents in rocks and water
Growing succulents in rocks is technically feasible, but it is time-consuming and not intended for the long term. Water propagation enables you to grow succulents if the water is changed often enough and allows the roots to be submerged. You can add rocks to the water, but the regular changing of the water can be a hassle, especially when the roots start to grow through the rocks.
Always use good quality, fast-draining potting mix when you plant succulents in pots or enclosed vessels like glass or tin. Add a bit of perlite or vermiculite to achieve more drainage in the soil mix. Make sure the plant is suitable for the chosen location and select those that favor the indoors, like Sansevieria or Haworthia.
Make sure the pots have drainage holes to avoid root rot. Water the succulents as needed, especially during hot weather, but make sure they are not overwatered by letting the potting mix dry out in between watering.
Succulents are hardy plants that are well-adapted to survive even harsh weather conditions. However, while they can live in various terrains, they cannot grow in rocks. These plants need soil to support their roots and to obtain the necessary nutrients for them to flourish.
Image: istockphoto.com / Alex McGregor