They will protect your plants from weeds, keep pests out, prevent soil erosion, avoid splashing soil on the foliage, and prevent fungal diseases. Now that you know the benefits rocks provide, let’s take a look at some negative aspects worth thinking about. Answered. If you have a hanging basket in full to partial sun, you can also try ice cubes. Peat moss and sphagnum moss are great alternatives to rocks. At your local garden center, you’re likely to find simple wood chips from cedar, pine, and cypress trees. Thus, you should treat it as landscaping rocks rather than simple soil covering. Gravel is cheap, readily available, and very versatile. Never put a layer of gravel or rocks in the bottom of a container beneath the potting mix in an effort to improve drainage. Have a pine tree on your property? A thick layer of rocks can block the sun from reaching the soil, thus preventing weed growth. All they need is some moisture and sunlight. Too Hot: Rocks, raise the soil temperature, leading to stressed, thirsty plants. Most mulches absorb water. You don’t have to make the layer of rocks super thick. "This common belief about gravel is actually a myth. They’re beautiful stones that have a lot of shimmer and detail. Like pebbles, gravel pieces are very small. They can slow the rate of evaporation to keep the soil moist. I'm Kevin, your friendly neighborhood gardener. Just keep adding water as the level drops, and you have a simple, easy source of humidity for your houseplants. The biggest disadvantage is that rocks don’t provide much health benefits for your plant. The rocks also help provide an aesthetic look to your plants. Messy pH: Most trees prefer acidic soil, but rocks create alkaline soil, which can hurt trees. But, you could use them if you have a particularly large planter. You can put rocks on top of soil as they do provide some benefits. You can put rocks on top of soil as they do provide some benefits. But, they break down faster because the ends are already dead. 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. Weeds aren’t just a problem in your garden. For the second layer, sprinkle horticultural charcoal on top of the rocks. Sometimes, retailers will glue the rocks in place to make them easier and cleaner to transport. Pesky weeds are highly opportunistic and will grow anywhere there is room. It has a near-neutral pH level even when decomposing. Avoid adding rocks or pot shards to the bottom of a succulent pot -- doing so impedes rather than improves drainage. Best of all, the material doesn’t compact as it decomposes. Problems with Fungus Gnats and Potting Soil. This simple addition will take your succulents to a whole new level! Ever touch a rock that’s been sitting in the sun all day? In this case, all you have to do is remove any weeds and debris. A layer of any type of mulch will prevent excess evaporation and moisture loss. They’re also known to have the biggest impact on pH levels, so exercise caution before using them. There are bigger river rocks available. In gardening, lava rocks are perfect for succulents and other drought-resistant plants. Speaking of fungal growth, rocks can also prevent common issues related to traditional mulch products. River rocks are smooth rather than jagged. Jun 25 2017. Rocks can work wonders to keep weeds under control. How to remove a plant from a pot. River pebbles are a favorite among gardeners. As I’m learning more about raising plants in containers, I came across this idea of using rocks on top of the potting soil. This is the best mulch for beginners. Typically made out of recycled car tires, rubber mulch is a synthetic product that lasts. Just a few stones set on the “seams” of the moss to hold the ends in place. Apply only an inch or two of clippings to get the best results. Learn how to add a professional touch to your succulent arrangements by using a top dressing, or decorative rocks. Using a shovel, create a level surface on the soil. Your sections should overlap about six to eight inches for maximum coverage. Marble and granite chips come from the same stuff that’s on your kitchen countertops! These rocks can be sharp. Return of the Weeds: Wind will eventually blow soil between rocks, creating a spot for weeds to grow. Perlite can be purchased on its own for addition to your preferred planting mixture. "I've always been told to put a layer of gravel in the bottom of a flower pot before planting. Read on to find out more. Worried, you run to Google, type in "moldy potting soil," and end up here. Once that’s done, you can add your rocks. Hi. I hadn’t thought of putting rocks on top of soil before. Sometimes soil will flush out the bottom over time, leaving the roots exposed. While that’s good for keeping the soil moist, it also makes the garden a breeding ground for fungi in many climates. So, the soil stays light and well-draining. Splashing can spread pathogens, which ultimately leads to fungal growth and disease. 3 When placed at the bottom of my pots, the rocks … Come closer and I will tell you my secret to pretty house plants.River rocks! Also known as Coir, coconut fiber is the stringy material that comes off of coconut husks. Rocks don’t decompose at all, so they’re not improving the soil quality in any way. A top dressing is a decorative rock placed on the top of the soil in an arrangement. The natural decomposition process infuses the soil with nutrients that the plant will actively use to grow stronger. 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. That stuff is probably a harmless saprophytic fungus. The geotextile will take care of all the drainage and protection you need. They provide the same benefits. Most of the rocks you would use for this type of application are on the alkali side of the pH scale. 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. Easier to weed, and less water will be required. And when you put a plant -- be it shrub or tree or something else entirely -- … 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. I have some succulents in pots ( small, medium, sized) and 3 dwarf citrus in large pots. They will protect your plants from weeds, keep pests out, prevent soil erosion, avoid splashing soil on the foliage, and prevent fungal diseases. It’s a popular material in gardening. Mulch can help keep pathways in beds clear of debris and mud. With your other hand, tip over the pot so that the plant and soil slide out together. So, they tend to stay much cooler. Create cutouts for the plant stem and provide ample room for any additional growth. Patricia Hamilton Reed has written professionally since 1987. 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. Typically, gravel mixes contain a mixture of different rock fragments. 2 The rocks discourage my cats from trying to uproot my plants. That's a good thing too, because I've got the answers! Succulent Sponsor. Beyond the standard benefits, coconut fiber will not ruin the pH balance of your soil. This problem can get especially bad if you're over-watering your plants. No Benefit to Plants: Rocks don’t aid plant growth or soil health. The tiny stones are reminiscent of the … Landscapers use rocks quite often to prevent erosion on hills. Lave rocks are beautiful and add some bold color to your plants. Perlite bits create air pockets in the soil, allowing the soil to stay loose and drain effectively. Larger retailers of common plants often have stock with stones glued on top of soil. Reed was editor of the "Grand Ledge Independent" weekly newspaper and a Capitol Hill reporter for the national newsletter "Corporate & Foundation Grants Alert." 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. In fact, putting gravel in pots can do more harm than good. Here are some of our favorites! 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. They can protect the soil. Squirrels may try to dig, but they’ll stop once they realize that it’s easier to look elsewhere. Welcome to my website where I write about growing your own organic food in a limited space. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University, is an avid gardener and volunteers at her local botanical garden. Squirrels are notorious for hiding their cache of nuts and seeds in potting soil. They form over time by the constant wash of a moving river. When it finally does, you can enrich your soil with beneficial nutrients. The rocks come from actual volcanic lava. Unlike other rocks, lava rocks have tiny air pockets that keep the soil ventilated. This will be a thinner layer than the first, allowing the tops of the rocks to show through. Is this really necessary? Putting rocks in plant pots doesn’t aid drainage or improve air circulation. Any advice on how to cut, and use? But, they may also improve the soil quality in the long run. That is, when people ask why put rocks in potted plants, they usually have some idea that this will help with drainage. They provide many similar benefits as standard mulch, but you don’t have to worry about mulch-based fungus. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. But, they will not improve the soil like organic mulch. But, they’re not your only options. Here are the biggest. Just make sure to watch out for the plant roots! That’s not always the case, so make sure that you understand the pH requirements of your plants before using rocks. Small rocks and pebbles certainly improve the look of your potted plants. Yet, the rocks won’t prevent water and sun from feeding the existing plant. ... Diatomaceous earth is a natural type of ground-up rock that is great for pest control. 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