Succulents + Rocks = Perfect Match: Here’s How to Plant Them

Succulents are a great choice for rock gardens and planting them with rocks can add an interesting aesthetic to your garden. When pairing succulents with rocks, it is important to consider the color, texture, and size of the rocks to complement the plants.
A closeup image of lithops.

Succulents have undoubtedly won the hearts of gardening enthusiasts worldwide with their diverse shapes, colors, and textures. Whether you’re a seasoned horticulturist or just beginning to explore the joys of gardening, these resilient plants are a delight to nurture. But have you ever considered pairing them with rocks to create stunning arrangements that reflect the rugged allure of nature? We are here to provide all the information you need to get started.

So, how do you pair succulents with rocks? The first thing you need to do is establish why you are pairing rocks with succulents. If you plant succulents for short-term aesthetics, you don’t have to worry about potting mix and other stuff. However, if you are thinking of a long-term project, you can’t plant the succulents on rocks alone. You need a well-draining potting mix for your succulents to stay healthy. Now find the best succulents that pair well with jade, houseleek, and ice plant rocks. Use porous rocks to ensure proper air circulation, and avoid using moss in your rock garden. Provide succulents with as much light as possible and only water when necessary.

This blog post will delve into the art of planting succulents in rocks. You will discover why succulents and rocks make a perfect match and uncover the secrets behind planting them seamlessly. Read on to learn more.

Can You Plant Succulents in Rocks?

The answer to this question is both yes and no.

Yes, you can plant succulents in rocks if the arrangement is meant to be short-term and won’t require long-term care.

On the other hand, if you intend to keep your succulents longer, you must provide them with some support system like potting mix or soil.

The rocks will support the succulents and provide a beautiful aesthetic, but they won’t be able to keep the succulents nourished in the long run.

A succulent on a can planted on Gravel.
You can plant succulents in rocks if the arrangement is meant to be short-term and won’t require long-term care.

Remember that rocks don’t absorb moisture and can’t store water for your succulents. Succulents planted in bare rocks without support will eventually dry up and die since their roots can’t absorb water.

Even low-maintenance succulents still need water and nutrients to thrive.

Planting succulents in bare rocks without soil denies them access to vital nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, nitrogen, and others.

Rocks don’t produce these nutrients. Therefore, your succulents will only survive for weeks or months before they die.

However, adding some soil at the bottom of the container and using rocks as the top layer will work fine in the long term.

Some may argue that rocks contain valuable minerals that succulents can depend on for survival. But the truth is that rocks don’t release these nutrients fast enough to sustain the plants.

The rock minerals disintegrate over a very long period and don’t provide enough sustenance for the succulents.

How Can I Get It Right?

Fortunately, there are different ways to plant succulents in rocks without compromising long-term survival. Here are some exciting ways to pair succulents with rocks:

Add Rocks/ Pebbles to a Glass Jar

Succulents growing in a terrarium always look great. In fact, this is one of the best ways of pairing succulents with rocks. Consider using rocks of different sizes to hide the potting mix.

Creating a rock + succulent terrarium is easy. The first thing you need to do is decide on the rocks that will show outside. Carefully place these rocks at the bottom of your glass container.

An open terrarium with succulent.
This is one of the best ways of pairing succulents with rocks.

Now fill the gaps between the rocks with pumice or pebbles. Consider using geo-baric to stop the potting mix from touching the glass surface.

The next thing you need to do is build rocks around the glass to create an illusion of rocks + succulents with no soil.

Carefully insert your succulent cutting or seedling in the soil and sprinkle some pumice on top to cover the soil layer. Pumice also aids drainage.

Potted Succulents and Rocks

Another way to pair succulents with rocks is to use them in potted succulent arrangements. Remember that you need a container with drainage holes.

Fill the pot halfway with drainage material such as gravel or pebbles. Now add soil and carefully insert the cuttings, seedlings, or mature plants.

A sand dollar cactus in a pot.
Remember that you need a container with drainage holes.

Cover your soil with moss and carefully layer the rocks on top. You can also build a mound of rocks at one side to create a mini-hill or keep them flat for a more traditional look.

Succulents + Rocks in Plastic Pots

It is easy to grow some succulents in plastic pots. Since most plastic containers are opaque, you don’t have to worry about visual aesthetics so much.

The first thing you need to do is fill your plastic container with some gardening soil. Add some pumice or pebbles for drainage. Now add your succulents and cover the soil with rocks or stones.

Keep in mind that pumice is white rock. Sprinkling them on top of your setup helps with soil drainage and improves the overall aesthetics of your setup.

A 10cm plastic container can typically accommodate up to six succulent cuttings.

Pair Succulents with Rocks Outdoors

If you plan to plant succulents outdoors, then you need to remember that the installation shouldn’t be too deep. Succulents don’t like being planted in thick soil or mud as the roots won’t be able to access oxygen.

First, you must use chalk or string to mark a spot for your succulents and rocks. Carefully dig a shallow hole and fill it with gravel or pebbles.

Now insert your succulents in the gravel and carefully cover them with a thin layer of soil.

Finally, add rocks around the succulent to create an attractive display. Consider using larger stones, which won’t blow away on windy days. The use of medium-sized rocks provides better aesthetics too.

A sempervivum on a rocky garden.
Add rocks around the succulent to create an attractive display.

Remember to water your succulents regularly and provide them with plenty of sunlight. Apart from that, you don’t have to do much to keep the succulents healthy and thriving.

What Are Some of the Best Succulents for Rocks?

Below are some of the best succulents for pairing with rocks. These succulents thrive in outdoor environments and are highly resilient.

Some are slow growers, but they are hardy enough and provide a beautiful ground cover to make your succulent + rocks garden look beautiful.


The jade plant is one of the most common Crassula succulents. Its oval-shaped leaves make it an ideal choice for rock gardens. It is a slow grower and can survive in hot and dry climates.

It produces pink flowers during the blooming season, making your garden look stunning.

Pig Face

The Pig face is an evergreen succulent that grows both indoors and outdoors. This plant has stunning maroon foliage and can tolerate partial shade, making it a great option for rock gardens. It produces yellow flowers in spring and summer, adding beauty to your garden.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a popular succulent due to its therapeutic properties. Not only does it look great when paired with rocks, but it can also treat minor cuts and wounds. It has long, thin leaves with a light green hue. It needs plenty of sunlight and moderate watering for optimal growth.

A variegated aloe vera.
Aloe vera is a popular succulent due to its therapeutic properties.

Tips on Planting Succulents in Rocks

Below are some tips that will make it easy to create a perfect combination of rocks and succulents in your home.

  • Choose the right succulents: Some of the best succulents to plant in rocks are jade, houseleek, and ice plant. These plants thrive in dry conditions and require little maintenance.
  • Use porous rocks: Porous rocks such as lava rock or pumice will allow air to circulate around your succulents better than denser materials like marble or granite.
  • Choose an appropriate pot/container: Ensure the container is big enough for the succulent’s roots to grow but not too large that it causes water to stagnate and affects plant growth.
  • Consider using a tray: Placing a tray under the pot will help with drainage and prevent your succulents from getting overwatered.
  • Group succulents together: Planting different types of succulents together will make your display more aesthetically pleasing. Ensure the plants are spaced out enough to allow them room to grow and receive adequate sunlight.
  • Don’t forget to water regularly: Succulents in rocks need regular watering like other plants. Make sure to check the soil moisture before watering and adjust accordingly. You can also use a spray bottle for an easier option.
  • Don’t forget to fertilize: Feeding your succulents with a balanced fertilizer every now and then will help them grow faster and stronger. You can buy liquid fertilizer or use organic matter such as compost, manure, or fish emulsion.


Pairing succulents with rocks is a great way to create stunning arrangements that reflect the rugged allure of nature.

Remember to use porous rocks and provide plenty of light and water for your succulents when pairing them with rocks.

With a little bit of care, you’ll be able to create a unique display of rocks and succulents that will thrive for many years. Good luck!

Last update on 2023-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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