gravel and drainage came about because it was assumed that gravity would pull the water through the saturated zone and into the gravel, away from the roots of the plant. Cactus and succulent growing mediums for pots are a coarse, open mixes made with some organic matter to retain a little moisture, and plenty of gritty material such as crushed quartz or other crushed rock, which act like a sandy soil and lets water pass almost straight through. Putting rocks in plant pots doesn’t aid drainage or improve air circulation. The forces of attraction between water molecules to each due to the hydrogen bonds they form with each other (cohesion), causing them to pull each other up. You wouldn’t believe the emails and questions I get defending the practice, even after all that evidence I’ve presented lol! Old bricks broken into large chunks are also an option for weighing down the bottom of containers and keeping soil drainage effective. It’s all about the potting mix. Succulents and cacti naturally grow in sandy soils that drain quickly. Salvage Your Dried-Out Plants There are always exceptions to the rules, as we’ve discussed in this section, but in general, it’s best not to place gravel, stones, pebbles, scoria, terracotta pot shards or any other materials at the bottoms of pots below the growing medium. Great article. Thanks Elizabeth, that’s an excellent idea! Should you? I really liked that you went into detail, it becomes very clear. The only way that gravel at the bottom of the pot will increase drainage is if the pot has insufficient drainage, either due to not having enough drainage holes, or by having blocked drainage holes. Pots, planters, tubs and containers designed to hold plants always have drainage holes in their bases to allow any excess water to drain out freely, preventing water accumulating at the bottom of the pot. Pebble tray. You’re welcome to disagree! No gravel – none of the time! Also, be aware that all pots filled with any kind of potting mix, potting medium or growing  medium, call it what you will, have a perched water table. Use waterproof items like:-A plastic tray with at least one half inch rim on all sides for several plants.-Plastic saucer for one potted plant, again with at least one half inch rim all around.-A ceramic or plastic pot with no holes in the bottom to serve as a sleeve to set your potted plant … A lot of orchids for example are epiphytes (plants don’t grow in soil but obtain moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and usually grow on the surface of another plant), and many grow in trees. So should I put rocks in the bottom of my plant pots? When I mixed them with the compost, it was 50% clay balls and 50% soil on the bottom of the pot, then slightly decreased the clay balls, somewhere around 40% clay balls and 60% soil in the middle of the pot and on the surface it was 30% clay balls and 70% soil. The only way that gravel at the bottom of the pot will increase drainage is if the pot has insufficient drainage, not enough drainage holes for example. Few people are. Having a layer of gravel makes no difference to the system when using a wick. The main purpose of placing pebbles on the bottom of the potted succulent plant is to enhance drainage. You can use decorative pebbles from a garden center, rocks right out of your own garden, or inexpensive gravel. Adding gravel into the bottom of  terracotta pots creates a small water holding area for the excess water that would normally drain out on its own  if the gravel wasn’t there to collect into if the single drainage hole become blocked. This would make a great classroom experiment. This weekend I took out of the pot a lemon tree which was planted in 70% expanded clay balls mixed with 15% coco peat and 15% compost all the way through the pot. Perlite absorbs water, so the mix dries out quickly, but so not so quickly that you have to water your plants every day. This post may contain affiliate links. I still get the occasional lone mealybug, but I just pick him up on a cotton bud and put him in the bin. Some of them will help reduce the weight of large pots, others help retain moisture. Dear Angelo, Typically, gravel mixes contain a mixture of different rock fragments. Some plants require extremely well draining potting mixes in containers. Gravel or pebbles will artwork to help guard moisture additionally, as might a extra moisture retentive soil mixture specifically. If you read this somewhere, the writer is not understanding “self watering devices” correctly. Cohesive forces are forces of attraction between molecules of the same type. Excellent Article, in one article you have addressed many phenomenons. The growing medium wont be as saturated as the perched water table, but it will still be wet enough for way too long to be detrimental to the plant. Loading... Unsubscribe from Figaholics? If you use the same potting medium, irrespective of the size or shape of the pot, the perched water table always stays the same height because it is determined by the wicking ability of the potting medium, as gravity doesn’t change. How to Improve Drainage in Plant Pots, The Proper Way to Do It! Seed Saving – How Long Can You Keep Seeds? If you want to DIY your potting mix, here’s what you need: Pretty much equal parts coco coir, perlite, and orchid bark, A third of the amount of coir of worm castings and activated charcoal. ( Log Out /  If not, then see for yourself. As I already mentioned, you just need one rock, to keep the potting medium in the pot. PPL that use soil you mentioned mix it with coarse/sifted-screened perlite, in min. In this section we’ll go a bit deeper into the science if you’re interested, if not, please skip to the next section. They can also add weight to the container. I know that kind of seems like your plant is about to come alive, but it’s true. Fruit Tree Problems – New Leaves Tightly Curled and Turning Yellow on Cherries and Plums, Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – December, Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – November, Follow Deep Green Permaculture on WordPress.com, How to Make Compost in 18 Days Using the Berkeley Hot Composting Method, How to Use Replaceable Filter Face Masks for COVID-19 Coronavirus Protection. I tend to do 1:1 sand and potting mix for succulents, or 1:1:1 potting mix, perlite, and orchid bark for, er, everything else. Make the same number of decent sized holes (around 6mm or 1/4″) in the bottom of each clear pot. However, if that excess water is in amongst the gravel, it won’t be soaked up in the same way. If a plant has been potted in a container that does not have drainage holes or quality soil, the problem can be easily solved by repotting the plant or adding holes to the container. 😆. Well, it’s because the potting medium in which the plant grows is designed to retain moisture, to a certain degree at least…. The problem would be even worse in glazed terracotta pots, which don’t seep moisture from their sides and stay wet longer. Hung from the pot to set this up when I have a nice blog, read a months! So precise with your explanation and your graphics on gravel drainage you are commenting using your WordPress.com.. North Willamette research and Extension center, Oregon State University, Physical Properties of Container Media same height Oregon University! The water will sit at the bottom of the pot ” in pot! So precise with your watering in terms of flow speed and quantity t float as easily perlite... 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