Apply only an inch or two of clippings to get the best results. The reasons for this vary, but the practice can be damaging to the plant in the long term. Problems with Fungus Gnats and Potting Soil. Those with thin leaves such as stonecrop (Sedum spp. That's a good thing too, because I've got the answers! A layer of any type of mulch will prevent excess evaporation and moisture loss. This is the best mulch for beginners. So, they tend to stay much cooler. They’re also known to have the biggest impact on pH levels, so exercise caution before using them. This isn’t always necessary, as the weight of the rocks should keep the fabric down in the small area. Using rocks for your potted plants is simple. Welcome to my website where I write about growing your own organic food in a limited space. Just a few stones set on the “seams” of the moss to hold the ends in place. Lave rocks are beautiful and add some bold color to your plants. Putting rocks in plant pots doesn’t aid drainage or improve air circulation. Click on this article for tips on getting rocks glued to soil off without harming the plant. Over time, organic mulch decomposes. These are simple woven fabrics that help to support the weight of the rock above. Soil erosion is something that all gardeners have to deal with. Rocks don’t decompose at all, so they’re not improving the soil quality in any way. Rocks can work wonders to keep weeds under control. One rock to cover the drainage hole is enough – just enough so that the soil doesn’t leach out of the bottom but water can flow freely through the pot. The biggest disadvantage is that rocks don’t provide much health benefits for your plant. They can start popping up in potted plants, too. To do this, place one hand around the base of the plant, on top of the potted soil. Answer + 3. ... Gnats tend to be attracted to decaying organic matter and moisture, both of which are often found in potted plants. In fact, putting gravel in pots can do more harm than good. As I’m learning more about raising plants in containers, I came across this idea of using rocks on top of the potting soil. "I've always been told to put a layer of gravel in the bottom of a flower pot before planting. This simple addition will take your succulents to a whole new level! So, the soil stays light and well-draining. Once we put in an irrigation system and a lawn and threw in some plants, the yard was good enough. These rocks are very small, which is why they’re classified as pebbles. Is it helpful to put small stones on top of the soil in potted plants? They can protect the soil. Never put a layer of gravel or rocks in the bottom of a container beneath the potting mix in an effort to improve drainage. I hadn’t thought of putting rocks on top of soil before. And when you put a plant -- be it shrub or tree or something else entirely -- … They can slow the rate of evaporation to keep the soil moist. Too Hot: Rocks, raise the soil temperature, leading to stressed, thirsty plants. Come closer and I will tell you my secret to pretty house plants.River rocks! I got these as a way to decorate some of my uglier pots. In gardening, lava rocks are perfect for succulents and other drought-resistant plants. Many plants prefer an acidic growth environment. Like organic mulch, grass clippings break down to improve soil quality. 1 The rocks stop the roots from being exposed when watering. They can also keep the soil intact, preventing the rocks from getting buried. While it doesn’t decompose to improve soil, you don’t have to worry about replacing it. If you have a hanging basket in full to partial sun, you can also try ice cubes. It has a near-neutral pH level even when decomposing. The curly texture of this moss makes it nest-like around plant stems. White, Fuzzy Growth in Potted Plants . The rocks glued to the top of the pot are acting partially as a mulch. Read on to find out more. Avoid adding rocks or pot shards to the bottom of a succulent pot -- doing so impedes rather than improves drainage. But, the smaller pebbles suit potted plants much better. I just bought a basil potted plant. Rocks absorb heat. 2 The rocks discourage my cats from trying to uproot my plants. I have some succulents in pots ( small, medium, sized) and 3 dwarf citrus in large pots. Any advice on how to cut, and use? They create a protective barrier. "This common belief about gravel is actually a myth. Here are some of our favorites! For the best results, it’s best to apply about an inch of rock material. Set potted plants on top of the rocks. This EZ … You can find it in the form of hanging containers, rolls, or even mulch. River rocks are smooth rather than jagged. Yet, the rocks won’t prevent water and sun from feeding the existing plant. No Benefit to Plants: Rocks don’t aid plant growth or soil health. They provide the same benefits. Dig up this top layer--generally about one inch down--and dispose of it. 3 When placed at the bottom of my pots, the rocks … But, you could use them if you have a particularly large planter. At your local garden center, you’re likely to find simple wood chips from cedar, pine, and cypress trees. Read more about General Houseplant Care. It’s a popular material in gardening. Leaving any open soil exposed will only open yourself up to trouble. If your plant and pot are light enough to … This added heat could raise the soil temperature beyond an acceptable range. Unfortunately, this puts your plant roots at risk. Once that’s done, you can add your rocks. Is this really necessary? Rocks don’t absorb water at all. But, they won’t physically hold onto water. If you need additional security, you can use fasteners or landscaping tins. Accent stones, pebbles, whatever you want to call them. A succulent, a type of plant with fleshy leaves that hold water for the plant's growth, needs the best possible drainage when grown in a container. In fact, it's a must for potted plants. Otherwise the succulent may become waterlogged and develop root rot. You can easily use them for your potted plants. You might have to check if your plant needs water differently, since you can’t see, or may not easily be able to touch the potting soil. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University, is an avid gardener and volunteers at her local botanical garden. Plus, it serves as a natural filter to deter odor-causing bacteria. Just make sure to watch out for the plant roots! Larger retailers of common plants often have stock with stones glued on top of soil. Gravel is cheap, readily available, and very versatile. The same thing happens with people who have been told about adding gravel to soil for drainage, putting wood chips in the bottom of … When it finally does, you can enrich your soil with beneficial nutrients. A succulent, a type of plant with fleshy leaves that hold water for the plant's growth, needs the best possible drainage when grown in a container. Typically, gravel mixes contain a mixture of different rock fragments. Those that require the best drainage -- succulents with the fattest, most water-filled leaves -- can be grown solely in pumice, but most benefit from including some nutrient-rich material in the mix. Create cutouts for the plant stem and provide ample room for any additional growth. For the second layer, sprinkle horticultural charcoal on top of the rocks. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This ensures that the soil is completely covered and secure in place. You can put rocks on top of soil as they do provide some benefits. Landscapers use rocks quite often to prevent erosion on hills. Crocking was supposed to encourage water to pass down from the potting mix into the gaps in the coarse layer below and out through the drainage hole. Using a shovel, create a level surface on the soil. Speaking of fungal growth, rocks can also prevent common issues related to traditional mulch products. Laura Wright. A top dressing is a decorative rock placed on the top of the soil in an arrangement. When you mow the lawn, you can use those clippings to improve your potted plants! Many landscapers utilize synthetic fabrics as a final layer of protection against erosion as well. Crushed volcanic rock, a lightweight material called pumice, is typically used to improve drainage when potting succulents. They will protect your plants from weeds, keep pests out, prevent soil erosion, avoid splashing soil on the foliage, and prevent fungal diseases. There are many alternatives to rocks. Finally, we have crushed marble and granite. By Charlie Nardozzi, The Editors of the National Gardening Association . Most mulches absorb water. All is fine and dandy until you wake up one morning to discover that your favorite potted plant is growing fuzzy, white mold. This article was last updated on 08/26/19. Dropping a bunch of rocks into a plant pot would, therefore, seem to be the perfect solution for keeping our potting soils from becoming too wet and boggy. It might not seem like much, but even a few droplets of muddy water on the foliage of your plant can do harm. Like pebbles, gravel pieces are very small. Succulents and cacti naturally grow in sandy soils that drain quickly. I’ve also written my research on how you can use the rocks and what alternatives you have like mulch or rubber. ), suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, need a mix of 1 part pumice to 3 parts potting soil, while a fleshier cactus, such as golden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii), can grow in a mix of 3 parts pumice to 1 part potting mix in USDA zones 9 and 10. I have a terribly black thumb but I hope to work on that and keep some plants alive. In colder climates, it can also keep soil temperatures in a good range. Previous Next > That said, there are a few pros and cons you might want to mull over before you decide to use them. Worried, you run to Google, type in "moldy potting soil," and end up here. you said it yourself, the perched water table will always be the same height. Be sure to replace the soil that has been removed with a fresh layer of top soil. Now, fast forward another year, and I’m researching gnat insect infestations online (I have SO much time in my life to do this, by the way) and finding out that this is a very common problem with Miracle-Gro, as evidenced in this stream of negative reviews on their website. If you have a smaller pot with a simple succulent, things are going to be much easier. No matter what type of decorative rock you use, it’s going to behave differently than mulch. Weeds aren’t just a problem in your garden. Put a few ice cubes on top of the soil and walk away. The same benefits apply when you use them on your potted plants. Unlike other rocks, lava rocks have tiny air pockets that keep the soil ventilated. The rocks also help provide an aesthetic look to your plants. To promote good drainage, old advice used to be to line the bottom of your pots with a coarse layer, such as gravel, stones or old broken china, in a practice known as crocking. Putting rocks on top of potted plants is a perfectly acceptable method to cover the soil decoratively. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Answered. The natural decomposition process infuses the soil with nutrients that the plant will actively use to grow stronger. Gnats like to lay their eggs in the top layer of soil of various potted plants. Already, space is so limited as you’re cramming a plant in a container and then you add a few inches of gravels or crockery for drainage, what it does is reduces the volume of soil available to plant roots, reported The Guardian in their article Old Wives’ Tales. They will protect your plants from weeds, keep pests out, prevent soil erosion, avoid splashing soil on the foliage, and prevent fungal diseases. Messy pH: Most trees prefer acidic soil, but rocks create alkaline soil, which can hurt trees. Mulch can keep plant roots warm in winter and cool in summer. Sometimes soil will flush out the bottom over time, leaving the roots exposed. Have a pine tree on your property? You'll find useful information here whether you're growing vegetables in an apartment, patio, or a raised bed. You can even use aquarium gravel to add a touch of color to your potted plants! You can’t go wrong with organic mulch. The main purpose of placing pebbles on the bottom of the potted succulent plant is to enhance drainage. They’re beautiful stones that have a lot of shimmer and detail. Rocks can effectively stop splashing. It also doesn’t attract pests, which is a huge plus for outdoor pots. This problem can get especially bad if you're over-watering your plants. As the name would imply, this is an all-natural product that will decompose with time. The geotextile will take care of all the drainage and protection you need. All they need is some moisture and sunlight. Most of the rocks you would use for this type of application are on the alkali side of the pH scale. Fine Gardening: Echinocactus Grusonii (Golden Barrel Cactus, Mother-in-law's Cushion), University of California Extension Alameda County Master Gardeners: Succulent Care. Typically made out of recycled car tires, rubber mulch is a synthetic product that lasts. Thus, you should treat it as landscaping rocks rather than simple soil covering. Here are the biggest. Easier to weed, and less water will be required. That’s not always the case, so make sure that you understand the pH requirements of your plants before using rocks. The tiny stones are reminiscent of the … Thinking about topping the soil in your potted plants with some rocks? You are completely incorrect in your article. Image credit: proflowers.com. In this case, all you have to do is remove any weeds and debris. ... Diatomaceous earth is a natural type of ground-up rock that is great for pest control. Sometimes, retailers will glue the rocks in place to make them easier and cleaner to transport. But, they’re not your only options. Marble and granite chips come from the same stuff that’s on your kitchen countertops! The rocks come from actual volcanic lava. Squirrels may try to dig, but they’ll stop once they realize that it’s easier to look elsewhere. These rocks can be sharp. But, they may also improve the soil quality in the long run. However, they work on virtually any plant. Squirrels are notorious for hiding their cache of nuts and seeds in potting soil. Sometimes she will use beautiful dried Spanish moss, which is grey and usually needs no additional adornment. See more ideas about garden, outdoor gardens, rock garden. Potting soil, intended for use with potted plants, contains small pieces of a white volcanic rock called perlite. Grass clippings are particularly beneficial to vegetable plants. 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