Should I Put Rocks in the Bottom of My Pot?
It looks like you chose the perfect pot for your houseplant, but should you also add rocks to the bottom? You’ve heard that might be necessary for some indoor plants, but you’re not certain. Also, won’t adding rocks to the pot affect the drainage? How should you proceed?
Do I need to put rocks in my houseplant’s pot? It is not recommended to put rocks in your houseplant’s pot. It would be difficult to fill the pot with as much soil if it already has rocks in it, leaving your plant with less space to grow. Additionally, the rocks block the drainage holes in the pot, so the water cannot escape, causing waterlogging and root rot, which may eventually lead to the death of the plant.
Here’s more information on why you should not add rocks to a houseplant’s pot. We’ll also cover whether you should add pebbles or gravel instead. We couldn’t wait to share this article with those who were convinced that rocks are necessary in your pot.
Rocks in the Bottom of Your Pot: Yes or No?
The practice of adding rocks to the bottom of a house plant’s pot is now regarded as mythical among gardeners, but it wasn’t always the case. Despite being faulty and erroneous, this misleading advice was widely accepted, even appearing in several gardening books and magazines. Because people believed it, they followed through, sometimes killing their plants in the process.
Initially, you thought rocks should be placed in a potted plant, but we’ll teach you how they can damage your poor plant instead of helping it grow.
Rocks Impact Drainage
Water must escape from your pot through the drainage holes at the bottom so it doesn’t settle in the pot. Without this, the water will saturate the pot. In addition, such a lot of water may “drown” the houseplant. For instance, imagine having water poured on you without a chance to inhale. That’s pretty frightening, isn’t it? This also happens to plants if they lack sufficient oxygen and have too much water.
In short, pots’ drainage holes serve an important purpose. It is okay if soil gets in the way of the drainage holes since soil is somewhat malleable. Water will certainly erode it, creating a pathway for it to get out. But what will not be eroded by water? A giant rock. Well, maybe if it’s around for many years, but that kind of time can’t be afforded by you.
What does that have to do with our current dilemma? When you block the drainage hole of your house with a rock, the water cannot escape. A houseplant confined to a pot will be deprived of oxygen, causing it to eventually wither and die.
Rocks Don’t Give Your Houseplant Much Room
It’s understandable why gardeners would find the idea of adding rocks to a houseplant pot appealing, especially for those who prefer to use expensive specialty soil.
Let’s suppose that you added some very large rocks to your houseplant’s pot. You might have filled a quarter of the pot with rocks, maybe about halfway. Almost half the pot holds the potting soil. It does nothing to brighten your frightened houseplant. It looks as though you tore half the house apart.
The houseplant grew too big for its container, so you chose a pot of a size that allowed it to remain in the same container, making sure the pot was not too small. Your houseplant does not have enough room to grow even though it has an appropriately sized pot.
Plants typically adjust to the conditions of the environment they have, but in this case, the conditions are not sufficient. This may cause your houseplant to die, but will severely hinder its growth.
Rocks Could Cause Root Rot
A little-known side effect of filling your houseplant pot with rocks is that you can’t put as much water in it as you would normally. If you add water to this setup, the pot will become very crowded and would soon run out of room.
In our previous discussion about the drain holes, we said that rocks prevent water from flowing freely. So where does that water go? As you know, gravity aids in water absorption, which keeps roots growing.
A pot of rock may still allow the water to travel downward, but now it is impenetrable. Water cannot travel down to the bottom in the pot. Instead, it accumulates where the rock begins. The soil eventually becomes soaked, then wet, then waterlogged.
Because of the rocks, your houseplant’s roots haven’t been able to dig as deeply, so they’re sitting under excess water that can’t drain, which is the perfect recipe for root rot, which can kill many houseplants.
Rocks Make Your Pot Really Heavy
Even though this doesn’t influence the plant much, if you try to move a container filled with rocks from room to room, it’s not going to be easy. Depending on how many rocks you added, the container can get quite heavy!
You can avoid an achy back by not placing rocks in the pot of your indoor plant since it will get full sunlight some of the day but indirect light the rest of the day. It’s completely avoidable by not putting rocks in the pot of your indoor plant in the first place.
Rocks vs. Gravel: Are They the Same Thing?
Okay, so we already established that placing rocks in the bottom of your inside pot is a no-no. Maybe you thought about using gravel instead. Gravel is simply smaller stones or rocks, often broken up pieces of larger ones.
Since gravel is smaller than soil, it shouldn’t get in the way of your pot’s drainage holes, right? Well, maybe, but you can’t be sure without seeing the gravel for yourself. Some gravel can be chunky, in which case drainage could be blocked.
If you could fit pieces of gravel through the holes in your pots, that doesn’t mean that using gravel is a good idea. By the handful, gravel isn’t any better than a rock or two. In spite of this, it could still become a drainage issue. Gravel limits how much soil can go in the pot, making it squished and possibly contributing to root rot. It could also make your pot heavier than necessary.
Rocks and gravel aren’t exactly the same thing (even though they come from the same source). But they behave remarkably similarly in a houseplant pot. If you want your plants to live long, healthy lives, you shouldn’t use either of them.
What about Using Pebbles?
Isn’t gravel, rock, and pebble all the same thing? Yes, but we’re not advocating putting pebbles in your pot this time, instead, we’re advocating making a pebble tray.
Unlike the rock trays that go inside pots, the pebble trays go beneath them. You’ll still fill the pot with soil, no rocks included. The tray’s job is to increase the humidity of your indoor plants.
What makes this possible? Since you put the pot on top of the pebble tray and add water to the pebble tray, the pot stays over the water level recommended in its design. This makes the plant more humid once the water evaporation begins.
For those who are interested in making their own pebble tray for their houseplant, we recommend checking out the humidity requirements of the plant first. If it needs more moisture than the average plant, here’s how.
You should choose a tray that is larger than the pot of your houseplant. Next, add some pebbles. River rocks will work just as well. Decorative beads can also do the trick. Any kind of container you choose, ensure the tray is halfway full of water before shifting the stones and getting ready to plant.
In order to generate humidity using this method, you need to replace the water every now and then, since it will eventually completely evaporate. It is more efficient than misting your plants constantly.
Can you put Styrofoam in the bottom of a planter?
A planter is a large box or container that you can use to grow plants indoors or outdoors. Pots and planters are different. Planters are used to create a warm, sunny area for the plants. They can often be much larger than a pot to the point where there is a lot of soil.
While the houseplant does not require all the soil, you can’t just leave the bottom of the pot empty, so why not fill it with something else? Gardeners recommend filling the bottom of a container with something besides soil.
In fact, Styrofoam works well for this purpose. You may also want to use ceramic pieces, concrete chunks, gravel, crushed bricks, and rocks. But note to clarify: You should use these materials in a planter, not a houseplant pot.
Can plants grow in pots without holes?
Getting back to the example of indoor plants, what happens if your pot does not have drainage holes? Your indoor plant might survive for a few days, but when there is nowhere for the water to drain, you’ll have more trouble on your hands. It is possible that your plant will develop root rot in its first or second week in the pot.
If, by chance, your houseplant survives to fertilize point, you further compound the problem. At this point, salt in the fertilizer is entrenched in the soil, making it impossible for it to be removed.
Yes, drainage holes are a bit of an eyesore, especially if you bought a beautiful pot for your houseplant. However, they are a necessity, so do not neglect them for too long.
Are lava rocks good for drainage?
In addition to the rocks discussed above, we would like to introduce another type of rock related to houseplants: the lava rock.
A larger amount of water can be absorbed into the rock by lava rocks, which has an improved drainage capacity. Some gardeners choose to grow their indoor plants on lava rocks, such as succulents, Tillandsia, and grasses.
Regardless, if you’re wondering whether lava rocks are suitable for your pot, we would still say no.