How to Make a Succulent Rock Garden

How to Create a Beautiful Succulent Rock Garden

succulent rock garden creation

A succulent rock garden is a great way to create a fully customizable piece of living decor.

Succulent rock gardens can span from the size of a bottle cap to acres of land in awe-inspiring living landscapes. However, because most people don’t live in the tropics or have miles of land at their disposal, this guide will focus on creating an indoor tabletop rock garden.

Find a Suitable Container for a Succulent Rock Garden

The first step in making a succulent rock garden is to find a good container or pot for a landscape.

Consider using long and flat containers when making a small arrangement. Because succulents naturally have shallow roots, short containers are a good starting point for small plants.  Also, short pots are more resistant to tipping over, which is great for building elaborate displays.

On the other hand, taller pots are perfect for larger succulents because they allow plant roots to anchor into the soil.

Try experimenting with different shapes of pots too. Round pots make excellent table centerpieces and rectangle troughs sit nicely on most shelves.

Also, make sure any container used for a succulent rock garden has drainage holes at the bottom. Drainage holes are essential to plant health because they allow excess water to escape.

Failure to provide adequate drainage may result in succulents growing tall and leggy, or even rotting away.

Select Succulents For a Rock Garden

succulent with purple

Most succulents will survive under the same conditions. As a result, they can coexist in the same pot and be just fine.

Also, pruning succulents helps keep their size in check as they grow to the size of their container.

It’s recommended to use a wide variety of succulent types and sizes to create an interesting landscape.  Large plants make great background pieces, while smaller ones help fill gaps and establish a foreground.

Here’s a small list of some great succulents to consider using:

  • Aloe VeraAloe is an all-around good plant to use in any garden. It grows at a pretty fast rate, thrives a room temperature, and will survive a few weeks without water. Aloe vera and other varieties have rows of small teeth or hooks, which gives them a cool look. Also, they propagate super easily and will fill in any open gaps at the surface.

For an in-depth guide on Aloe vera care, come visit our webpage!

  • Jade Plants (Crassula ovata)

Jade plants are super solid and simple. They can survive weeks without water and grow at a steady rate in room temperature environments.

There’s an array of jade plant varieties with unique and complex leaf shapes. Together, they can make a rock garden of ovals, tubes, and spirals.

  • Hens and Chicks (and other Echeveria)

Hens and Chicks, as well as similar Echeveria varieties, are carpeting succulents that grow in a spiral pattern from a center. Their low growing and fleshy leaves stretch out like a dish.

They range in color from light purples to deep reds, and will rapidly grow new shoots from the mother plant.

Echeveria plants can go weeks without water, and some types can survive below-freezing temperatures. Their resilience to extremes makes them an excellent choice for outdoor rock gardens in any part of the world.

Find Good Soil and Gravel

Above all, the right soil is crucial to creating a thriving rock garden that won’t wilt away in a few weeks. A cactus or succulent soil mix should be used when planting succulents.

Most potting soils have too much fertilizer and hold too much water. Both can be detrimental to the health of succulents for a few reasons:

  1. Too many fertilizers can cause chemical burns to succulents, especially because they have fragile root systems.
  2. Potting soils hold too much water that sits for extended periods of time. Often, wet soil will lead to rotting.
  3. Finally, wet soil will compact over time and make it hard for plants to grow new roots. Eventually, this might lead to stunted growth and top-heavy plants.

Buy a Quality Cactus Soil Mix

Most stores will carry a cactus and citrus soil mix. This is perfect for a succulent rock garden and is much better than conventional potting soil.

Other fast-draining soils work well too, however, be careful with added fertilizers and organics.

Make a Cactus Soil Mix

Succulent soil can be made by mixing potting soil and perlite, though this should be done as a last resort.

Start by mixing one part potting soil (try to use one without fertilizer) to one part perlite. This will create a fast-draining substrate that can be used for planting.

Feel free to mix in some sand or fine gravel, however, too much can make the soil too dense for root growth.

Gravel (Optional)

Gravel is a nice way to layer planting substrate. Also, gravel helps to prevent the movement of soil after watering and has tons of varieties that look great in a rock garden.

Layering the bottom of a pot with gravel helps with drainage, pulling water from the soil and into the bottom of the container before plants can rot.

Additionally, coarse gravel and small rocks can be used to hold up succulents while they establish root systems. It can prevent plants from falling over after they’re watered. has a great guide on using gravel and pebbles when growing plants.

Putting Together a Succulent Rock Garden

After gathering all the above resources, it’s time to put together a succulent rock garden.

  1. Fill the chosen pot/container and fill it with cactus soil until there’s about an inch (2.5 centimeters) of space between the top of the container and the substrate. Use a layer of gravel on the bottom of the container for extra drainage.
  2. Carefully arrange desired succulents and cacti in the container. Make sure they have enough space between them to grow, and they need to be planted deep enough for roots to be covered.
  3. Add a final layer of rock or gravel. It isn’t necessary for an extra layer; however, gravel helps hold plants in place and aid with water distribution. Rock adds a level of interest to a garden.
  4. Add decorations! Feel free to personalize a rock garden and make it unique. Try marbles or fake logs to give it a distinct look.

    For more tips on decorating and creating a succulent aesthetic, visit our webpage!

  5. Lastly, provide plants with proper maintenance. Water once every week or two (though this depends entirely on the type of succulents in the garden), and prune back plants that grow too large. Provide them with enough light by placing them in a sunny location.

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