Can You Plant Succulents in Gravel? Find Out Here

Planting succulents in gravel might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about gardening. But, after learning about all the advantages of planting succulents in gravel, it may be just what you need to change your mind.
A succulent on a can planted on Gravel.

Succulents provide a unique way to add life and color to your home or garden. These plants are hardy, drought-tolerant, and relatively low maintenance, making them perfect for beginner gardeners or busy people with little time to tend to their plants. Like other plants, succulents require soil to grow. However, one question that often arises among succulent enthusiasts is whether or not they can be planted in gravel. Don’t worry; we are here to address this concern and help you make an informed decision.

So, can you plant succulents in gravel? The answer is yes! Succulents can be planted in gravel, but a few conditions must be met. Gravel provides adequate moisture drainage, essential for succulents since they don’t need much water. However, some soil is still necessary to give the plants nutrients and support their root system. It is also essential to make sure the gravel you use is porous so that excess water can drain away from the roots of the succulents. Avoid non-porous rocks like pea gravel, river rocks, fish rocks, sand, and other materials that could trap moisture and encourage fungi or bacteria growth.

In this blog post, we will discuss how to plant succulents in gravel and provide tips on how to care for them. Read on to learn more.

Succulent Care – Quick Overview

Generally, succulents are highly tolerant plants. They are not fussy and will thrive if you provide them with the right conditions.

One critical aspect of succulent care is potting mix/soil. These plants generally love rocky/sandy potting mix that is well-draining. These plants store water in their stems and leaves.

The efficient water storage capabilities mean that these plants don’t need to be watered often and must not be allowed to sit in water for too long. Leaving them waterlogged for too long can lead to irreversible root rot.

Their roots and leaves can only take up as much water. So, any excess water begins to hurt the plant causing the stem, roots, and leaves to become mushy. The soil must be well drained to remove the excess water as quickly as possible.

A miniature echeveria on hand.
Leaving them waterlogged for too long can lead to irreversible root rot.

When planting succulents in pots, the regular potting mix is often mixed with rocks, sand, or gravel to increase drainage. Succulents can also be planted directly in gravel if the material is porous and provides good drainage.

Can Succulents Grow in Gravel?

As mentioned earlier, succulents can survive in gravel, but there are a few caveats.

Firstly, the gravel must be porous so that excess water can drain away from the roots of the succulents. If the gravel is non-porous and traps moisture, it could encourage fungi or bacteria growth, hurting your plants.

Secondly, you must also include some soil in the gravel to provide the plants with nutrients and support the root system. You can use potting mix, cactus soil, or both.

The soil should be mixed with the gravel to provide an environment where succulents can thrive.

Lastly, you must ensure that your succulents get enough light and water. Succulents need bright, indirect light to thrive and should be watered deeply but infrequently.

A two closed terrarium.
You must also include some soil in the gravel to provide the plants with nutrients and support the root system.

Remember, succulents are not epiphytes. While epiphytes can comfortably grow and thrive without soil, succulents need soil, even if the quantity is minimal.

Succulents and Gravel Make a Good Pair

Most succulents are native to regions that experience minimal rainfall. Most of their habitats are rocky and sandy. That is why combining succulents and rocks/gravel will always make perfect sense. They belong together.

Most succulents tend to survive well in gravel at home as they do in rocks in the wild. Since most are low-maintenance plants, they require less water and nutrients to thrive. These plants know how to absorb and store water for an extended period.

This is what makes them survive even when grown in gravel. Hardy succulents don’t like excess water. Since gravel promotes water drainage, growing succulents in gravel can help manage the water content.

A succulent box arrangement.
Most succulents tend to survive well in gravel at home as they do in rocks in the wild.

Gravel also helps sun-loving succulents get enough direct sunlight by raising their elevation from the ground. This is crucial for succulents since they love heat and sufficient light.

Therefore, you should never be afraid of growing succulents in gravel. Feel free to find succulents of different colors, shapes, and sizes and use them to make your succulent gravel garden.

You can even have some in a pot. Add a little potting mix to the container, then cover it up with different types of gravel.

The setting automatically hides the soil and makes it appear like your succulents are growing in pure gravel with no soil.

You can position the pots in a strategic position near a sunny window to serve as a beautiful decoration piece in your home. The primary objective is to ensure that the succulent doesn’t die.

How To Plant Succulents in Gravel

The process is relatively simple if you want to plant succulents in gravel. Here’s a basic overview of how to do it:

  • Put a layer of porous gravel at the bottom of the container.
  • Put a thin layer of potting mix on top of the gravel.
  • Place your succulents in the container and ensure they are firmly in place.
  • Add more soil around them so that they have plenty of support.
  • Cover the container with a thin layer of gravel to give it a neat and decorative look.
  • Water your succulents deeply but infrequently.
  • Place your succulent gravel garden in an area with plenty of bright, indirect light.

Be careful with how much water you use, and ensure that your succulents are only standing in standing water for a short time. They should thrive in their gravel garden if you keep an eye on them.

How to Care for Succulents Planted in Gravel

You must stay on top of the routine care schedule if you want your succulents to thrive in gravel.

Provide adequate sunlight light to your succulents because these plants are generally sun-loving. Ensure you expose them to filtered sunlight for at least six hours daily. If you live in a hot climate, you may need to provide some afternoon shade.

Water your succulents deeply but infrequently. The soil should be allowed to dry out completely between watering sessions.

A close round terrarium with succulent.
Letting the soil dry out completely is always better than keeping it moist.

Monitor the moisture content of the gravel and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Letting the soil dry out completely is always better than keeping it moist.

Fertilize your succulents regularly with a balanced liquid fertilizer to help them thrive in their gravel garden.

In addition, prune the succulents when necessary and remove any dead or decaying leaves or stems to keep your succulent garden neat and healthy.

Which Succulents Grow Best in Gravel?

The best succulents to grow in gravel are hardy varieties that thrive in dry and hot climates. Some of the most popular ones include Aloe vera, Burro’s tail, Echeveria, Sedum Morganianum (donkey’s tail), Crassula ovata (jade plant), and Aeonium arboreum.

These succulents are well-known for their ability to survive in dry climates, making them ideal candidates for a gravel garden.

As long as you have the right combination of soil and gravel, you can successfully grow any succulent in your gravel garden. Ensure you provide the proper care and select a suitable variety for your climate.

Is There Any Alternative to Gravel?

If growing succulents in gravel sound tricky and more work than it’s worth, there is an alternative you can try out clay pebbles.

Also known as lightweight expanded clay aggregate or LECA, these pebbles resemble gravel but can absorb water and nutrients, releasing them to your plants when needed.

You can think of LECA as a more versatile form of gravel. Planting succulents in clay pebbles is easy, and you won’t need to change the substrate as often as you would with regular gravel.

Bonsai tree in the windowsill exposed to sunlight.
You must know that LECA may be more expensive than regular succulent soil.

Pebbles offer many benefits, from moisture and nutrient retention to low maintenance. This option is ideal for gardeners who continually overwater their succulents. Clay pebbles only draw up water when needed.

They allow you to use transparent glass containers without worrying about drainage.

However, you must know that LECA may be more expensive than regular succulent soil. But the difference in cost is worth the quality and convenience it offers.

To grow succulents in LECA, rinse off an existing potting mix from the roots and gently place them in the clay pebbles. You can use a transparent glass container pot with no drainage.

Keep in mind that the clay pebbles don’t contain any nutrients. They only hold onto the nutrients you add to the water. So, it is essential to fertilize your succulents regularly for optimal growth.


Growing succulents in gravel is an easy way to add greenery to any space. The primary benefit of this type of gardening is that it requires minimal maintenance, making it ideal for busy gardeners.

You can also grow succulents in clay pebbles, which act like a more versatile form of gravel.

The key to success is providing the proper care, choosing the suitable variety for your climate, and having the correct combination of soil and gravel or LECA.

Last update on 2023-06-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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