Should I Remove Glued Rocks or Top Dressing From Potted Succulents?

Should I Remove Glued Rocks or Top Dressing From Potted Succulents

Succulent arrangements are usually glued with rocks or top dressing during shipment. While some of these rocks are water-soluble, others are not. If water can get to the roots of your succulents, then you can leave the pebbles. Otherwise, remove a section of the pebbles to allow water down to the plant roots.

Besides watering, succulent growers are concerned about the restriction of growth caused by pebbles. Succulents cannot extend through the glued rocks, so there might not be enough room for growth when you top-dress them.

In light of the above, succulent growers may need to remove the top dressing on their succulents.

How Glued Rocks Help Potted Succulents?

Besides preventing damage during shipment, you can add top dressing to your succulents for the following reasons:


The top dressing on your succulents can act as a mulch. It helps keep the top layer of the soil free from mud and debris. During the winter, mulch can help you keep your succulent roots warm.

Furthermore, mulch helps prevent moisture loss and evaporation during the summer, keeping your succulents cool.

Although organic and inorganic mulch exists, the one on your topsoil is an inorganic type. Besides using rocks as a form of inorganic mulch for your succulents, you can use crushed bricks, sand, recycled glass, and tires.


Glued-down pebbles help to avoid moisture loss in potted succulents. There is minimal space for potted succulents to draw moisture because all corners of the pot are exposed to air, increasing the possibility of evaporation.

A layer of pebbles or gravel on top of your potted succulents will prevent moisture loss.

If you live in a hot and dry region, you must be careful when using top dressing because the rocks absorb heat, and the soil gets pretty hot. If you expose your succulents to direct sunlight, it is best to remove the top dressing.

Decorative and preventive purposes

Top dressing is the way to go if you want to add a touch of beauty to your succulents. These pebbles and rocks come in many colors, sizes, forms, and textures. Glued rocks are used on succulents that grow in rocky regions to mimic the native environment of the plants.

The primary reason nurseries use glued-on rocks is to prevent the growth of weed and pest infestation. When you put these rocks on your succulents, there is no room for weeds and insects to get close to the soil.

How to Use Gravel on Potted Succulents

It should be outside the pot if you decide to use gravel with your potted succulents. Add a layer of gravel to the drainage tray or a decorative planter and put the succulent pot on top of it.

This simple setup will help retain water and enhance humidity, even as the roots of the succulents are out of the puddle.

You can still use gravel if your pot does not have drainage holes. Add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the pot to form a kind of drainage tray that collects water. If you do not carry out this procedure carefully, you risk having the following problems:

potted lithops succulents in gravel
Lithops in gravel @pink_succulentary

Overwatering and under-watering

Since your pot does not have drainage holes and the succulents cover the gravel, you cannot know how to adjust your watering frequency. The soil will become soggy if you add too much water, and the roots will rot. On the other hand, if you do not add enough water, the succulents will start drying up gradually.

Stunted growth

Water, air, and nutrients get to the soil through a phenomenon known as capillarity. If the bottom of the soil is plugged up, water, air, and nutrients will not get to the soil, leading to stunted growth of your succulents.


When organic materials and moisture are trapped in the soil with no drainage system, mold gradually forms. If you do not move the succulents to a pot with good drainage, they may eventually die from fungi infestation.

How to Remove Glued Rocks from Potted Succulents

To remove glued-on rocks from your potted succulents, soak them in a bucket of water for some hours and observe if the glue dissolves. You can chip the rocks from the soil if that does not work.

Also, if you can crack a portion of the rocks, they will eventually fall away. You can use a plier, knife, or flathead screwdriver to pry the rocks, starting from the corner. Be careful not to damage the succulents when doing that.

Another way to remove the glued-on rocks from potted succulents is to remove the succulents and the soil. The glue and the rock layer will come out with succulents. You can change the soil if the glue is contaminated. Ensure that the soil level does not go above the brim of the pot.

After changing the soil, you can use the pebbles with no glue as mulch on the soil and spread them out to have a great look.

Should I Remove Glued Rocks or Top Dressing From Potted Succulents?
Potted echeveria in gravel @succulentoflove


The primary reason for adding a top dressing to your succulents is to beautify and prevent moisture loss. However, removing the glued-on rocks and pebbles from your potted succulents will allow them to breathe and grow healthy.

Succulent City chief editor


Richard | Editor-in-chief at Succulent City

Hey everyone! I’m Richard. Welcome to my blog, which is all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, I began my journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, my fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and I gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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Posted in Guides & Care Tips