Covering Potted Plant Soil with Rocks: The Benefits

Potted Plant Soil covered with Rocks

When done properly, covering topsoil with rocks has several advantages and gives both indoor and outdoor plants a contemporary appearance.

In potted plants, the topsoil can be covered with rocks to improve the plant’s appearance, minimize soil loss during watering, weed growth, fungus gnat infestation, splashing, and pet contact with the soil.

There are many various kinds of rocks that can be used as mulches for indoor plants, but certain factors, such as rock type and positioning, must be taken into consideration to produce the best results.

In the following sections of this essay, we’ll go over the advantages of utilizing rocks as mulch and whether they should be combined with the soil or even used as a drainage system.

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Benefits of Covering Topsoil in Potted Plants with Rocks

Rocks are Used for Aesthetics

In many cases, the rocks are used to enhance the beauty of the plant, giving it a classy appearance that blends in with any modern décor.

Rocks are frequently used as decorative coverings in cactus planting.

Although many other colors can be utilized to create lovely fairy gardens, white is the preferable color in this instance since it contrasts with the greens that the plant provides.

The kind of rocks used to cover the topsoil, however, should be taken into account.

Some rocks have the ability to leach limestone, which raises soil pH and damages plants by making it impossible for roots to absorb nutrients.

Following are some examples of rocks and stones:

  • Finished Rocks
  • Broken Gravel
  • Brick pieces
  • Rock of Lava
  • water rock

Prevents pets from interacting with the soil

The placement of rocks on the soil can keep interested pets away from it, which can prevent health issues.

It is best to prevent pets from playing with or even consuming potting soil.

Potting soil is specialized soil that has been created with components for plants that have particular requirements when grown in pots or containers.

When swallowed, the components of potting soil are harmful to animals and can result in a number of illnesses.

Cats and dogs can’t play with or even eat the soil since the top layer acts as a barrier to the soil underneath.

Prevents Water Loss

By shading the soil and lowering the temperature below it, adding rocks to topsoil decreases water loss.

Less water evaporates from the atmosphere as a result.

Additionally, the top layer of the rocks works as a cover, preventing drafty breezes from taking water from the soil. Tumbled glass is another kind of mulch that produces the same result.

Prevents Splashing and Soil Loss when Watering

Rock mulch will once more serve as a barrier, reducing the force of irrigation on the topsoil and preventing splashback onto the interior of the container or even your flooring.

Every time you water a potted plant, you may have to go back and clean up soil that has spilled, which can grow bothersome.

When watering, rocks help minimize splashing like this, and because less water evaporates into the atmosphere, the plant may require less frequent watering.

Prevents Fungus Gnats

Small, flies-like animals known as fungus gnats resemble mosquitoes in appearance. They can transport fungi that feed on plants, including Phytophthora and Pythium, and have a brief life cycle.

In particular, if there is an abundance of rotting vegetation and fungi, which is a characteristic of topsoil, fungus gnats thrive in damp soil conditions.

The top 14 inch of topsoil is where adult fungus gnats deposit their eggs, therefore blocking access to that area is essential to the eradication of these pests.

In this instance, a quarter-inch of sand has been applied to the topsoil. Sand will allow water to drain out rapidly and won’t replicate the conditions that often support the growth of fungus gnats.

In this battle, rocks might not be the best option because the crevices between them can serve as entrance points for fungus gnats to the damp soil below.

Prevents Weeds

Mulching your potted plant with stones will stop weeds from sprouting, much as stopping the onset of a gnat invasion.

Percentage Popularity of Why People use Rocks as Mulch

Disadvantages of Placing Rocks on topsoil

Rocks can heat up in the sun

The risk of the stone mulch heating up increases if the plant is placed in a spot that receives some daytime sunshine.

The heat from the sun’s heating of the stones may also be sent to the plant, stressing it.

Additionally, as the soil’s top layer warms up, more moisture is lost from the soil due to evaporation.

Heavy Substrates can Compress the soil

Although there are advantages to placing rocks on soil, if too many are utilized, soil may become compacted.

After watering, a compressed soil can cause waterlogging because it prevents water from draining freely.

The soil will also lose its ability to aerate with less space between soil particles, starving the roots of oxygen and finally causing the plant to die.

The Use of Rocks in AestheticsIn the sun, rocks can become warm.
keeps animals from coming into contact with the soilEliminates Weeds
Stops water loss 
minimizes soil loss and splashing when watering 
keeps fungus gnats away 
Eliminates Weeds 

Should Rocks be Placed at the Bottom of the Plant Pot?

When positioned at the potted plant’s base, rocks can aid in drainage.

Although the majority of articles claim that studies support this assertion, there is still no proof that adding rocks or any other substrate to the bottom of a plant pot will improve drainage.

According to research and a search of forums for the opinions and experiences of several plant owners, here is what you should know if you choose to place rocks at the bottom of the tray.

Used for Better Drainage

It is common practice to promote soil drainage and aeration by adding a layer of rocks to plant pots before adding soil.

In reality, it makes a bottom layer, which reduces the amount of soil that can be put in the plant pot.

Less soil reduces the chance that plants will receive the same quantity of nutrients as if the pot were completely filled from top to bottom.

In many instances, it was also discovered that the soil’s roots had grown through and enclosed the pebbles that had been keeping the layer together tightly.

This makes repotting difficult because the roots now need to be separated from the stony layer before being transplanted.

Getting a planter with stubs at the bottom will increase its height, allowing water to drain entirely without collecting at the bottom, which is a simple remedy.

To avoid water collecting inside the pot, the plant saucer, if used, should be emptied after watering.

Used to Prevent Soil Loss 

Plant pots frequently have pre-drilled drainage holes at the bottom. The option to punch holes already pressed into the container is also offered by some.

These do away with the DIY practice of drilling your own holes, which occasionally results in oversized ones if the incorrect size bit is employed.

Every time the plant is watered, the issue of oversize holes results in soil loss.

To stop soil loss, the holes are filled with rocks, which can be as few as a handful to completely cover the existing holes at the bottom of the plant pot.

As previously stated, there are disadvantages to this, and we will explore some straightforward materials that may be utilized to solve the issue in the following sections.

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Materials Used At the Bottom of plant pots Based on Popularity

Substrates that are often used

  • Clay pebblesHydroponic and aquaponic systems both employ clay pebbles. Due to their porosity and resistance to degradation, these pebbles might offer effective drainage.
  • Rocks Due to their affordability and availability, rocks are the preferred substrate. A covering of rocks can act as an effective barrier against soil erosion.
  • Many plant owners use coffee filters, which may filter out the soil and just permit water to run out of the soil.The only drawback to this is that a wide drainage hole may cause the filter material to degrade over time, enabling the dirt to freely escape.
  • The use of netting or shade clothThis, I’ve discovered, keeps the soil in the pot while being watered and covers the drainage holes at the bottom of plant pots the best.The material does not easily degrade, thus it stands up well over time.Click here to view the shade cloth we suggest on Amazon.

People’s Opinion on Placing Rocks at the Bottom of Plant Pots

Should Rocks be Mixed in With the Soil?

Rock shouldn’t be incorporated into the soil because it doesn’t improve the soil’s structure.

It does not improve the soil’s drainage, aeration, or nutritional content.

In reality, the rocks just occupy the space that nutrient-rich soil would have occupied. In actuality, it deprives the plant of the nutrients that may have been there if there had been soil present instead of rocks.

Repotting the plant is quite difficult since the soil’s roots tangle with the rocks.

Instead, add soil conditioners like perlite and vermiculite for improved aeration, drainage, and water retention.

Perlite and vermiculite are both put to soil to improve aeration, yet they are extremely different in nature.

Vermiculite is better for plants because it holds water and nutrients and releases them slowly and steadily, unlike Perlite, which does not hold as much water and provides the soil a more porous quality.

Vermiculture and Perlite should be combined in a 1:1 ratio and then added to potting soil to create a well-balanced mixture, according to horticulturists.


Is it OK to put stones around plants?

Rocks have a higher success rate in preventing weeds than mulch and are excellent at suffocating weeds. Low-water gardens and landscapes are ideal for stone cover. Stones can retain more heat than mulch, so they aren’t the ideal material for plants that may receive a lot of sunlight.

Can I put stones on top of indoor plants?

In order to achieve a light and airy indoor plant soil, it is against the principles to place rocks on your topsoil. Your plants may experience heat stress from rocks, which will deprive them of the moisture they require. Although they may have an appealing aesthetic, rocks really do more long-term harm than benefit.

Can you lay stones around plants?

Rocks have a higher success rate in preventing weeds than mulch and are excellent at suffocating weeds. Low-water gardens and landscapes are ideal for stone cover. Stones can retain more heat than mulch, so they aren’t the ideal material for plants that may receive a lot of sunlight.

Is it OK to put rocks in potted plants?

Potted plants can have boulders placed on top of them to boost looks. The pebbles or rocks can also be used as inorganic mulch. This aids in water retention and safeguards the roots from animals and pests. Think about the soil type and climate before adding rocks to potted plants.

How do you use rocks in a potted plant?

In potted plants, the topsoil can be covered with rocks to improve the plant’s appearance, minimize soil loss during watering, weed growth, fungus gnat infestation, splashing, and pet contact with the soil.