Can Succulents Grow in Sand?

Can succulents grow in sand? How about in rocks without soil? Or can they live in moss? Find out!

can succulents grow in sand

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Succulents are one of the most forgiving plants when it comes to growing conditions. Their ability to store water in their leaves and stems makes them one of the best drought-tolerant plants.

Can Succulents Grow in Sand?

The quick answer? Yes.

We see these beautiful arrangements very often. Succulents in terrariums filled with nothing but sand. The more colorful the sand, the better. And they truly are beautiful and stunning to look at.

But will they thrive? Not for long, unfortunately.

If you wish to plant succulents in sand, think of it as short-term, fun projects which are not meant to last for a very long time.

You can find a sand mix for succulents here.

Will Succulents Grow in Sand?

Succulents’ natural habitats in the wild are often environments that would often be uninhabited by other plants. Most succulents come from dry areas like deserts and semi-deserts. Some originate from mountains and others, rain forests. These plants are extremely hardy and adaptable that they are able to survive conditions that are normally too harsh for other plants, such as high temperatures and low humidity. But can succulents grow in sand?

Due to their harsh natural habitats, succulents are made more adaptable to less-than-ideal conditions. This is why succulents are able to survive in the sand for a longer period of time compared to most plants which may not even last a couple of days.

Another determining characteristic of succulents that enables them to survive without soil is their ability to store water. Succulents typically store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. They can adapt to very dry conditions. They do not require frequent watering and can survive without moist soil.

Besides, unlike most other houseplants, succulents can survive without a highly organic medium. This means that they do not require soil that is rich in nutrients. However, in order to thrive, they do require a certain amount of organic matter in their growing medium.

Therefore, although succulents can survive in a soil-less medium such as sand, it is not an ideal condition in which they can thrive. So while succulents planted in these terrariums look stunning, they are not meant to last for a long time.

Things to Consider When Growing Succulents in Sand

Although I mentioned that succulents can survive in the sand, it only holds true for coarse sand. Succulents grown in fine sand will not survive well at all. Fine sand retains too much water, making it compact and the succulents’ roots unable to breathe. As an alternative, you can also get the best soil for succulents in pots, if you plan on doing any repotting.

Succulents grown in the sand will not be getting enough nutrients as succulents grown in soil. Therefore, consider fertilizing the plants by adding diluted fertilizer (about ¼ to ½ strength) into the water you will use to water the plants. This way, you are providing the succulents with some nutrients they need to grow.

A Good Alternative to Growing Succulents in Sand

A good alternative to growing succulents in the sand is using a soil and sand mix. The large particles of sand allow water to pass through them, providing proper drainage, while the soil provides nutrients for the plants to grow.

You can use the following soil recipe:

Blend the mixture thoroughly and you will have the perfect soil mix ready for your succulents.

Which Succulents Do Well in Sand?

can succulents grow in sand

Corpuscularia lehmannii “Ice Plant”: It is a drought-tolerant succulent with blue-green leaves and daisy-like flowers. Despite its name, it is not a cold hardy succulent.

will succulents grow in sand

Euphorbia milii “Crown of Thorns”: It is one of the few succulents with real leaves – thick, fleshy, and tear-shaped. It can survive in sandy soil.

grow succulents in sand

Agave americana “Century Plant”: This succulent has large fleshy leaves and adapts well in any type of soil.

succulents that grow in sand

Aloe ferox “Bitter aloe”: Also known as Cape aloe, it is one of the best aloe varieties that can grow in sandy soil. Because of its thorny leaves, it is sometimes mistaken for a cactus.

succulents in sand

Senecio serpens “Blue Chalksticks”: In the wild, it is typically found growing from crevices in rocky sandstone slopes.

Do Succulents Grow Better in Sand or Soil?

Succulents are known for their ability to store water in their leaves and stems, making them particularly well-suited to dry and arid environments. As such, many people assume that growing succulents in sand would be a great way to replicate their natural habitat. However, while it is possible to grow succulents in sand, it’s important to note that sand alone is not a suitable growing medium for these plants.

Succulents need a well-draining soil mix that provides both water and nutrients to their roots. While sand can help with drainage, it does not offer much in the way of nutrition. In fact, using pure sand as a growing medium can actually be detrimental to succulents, as it can cause the soil to become too compacted and prevent air and water from reaching the roots.

What Kind of Sand Do You Use for Succulents?

If you do want to incorporate sand into your succulent soil mix, it’s important to use the right kind of sand. Horticultural sand or sharp sand are both good options, as they are coarse and help with drainage. Play sand, on the other hand, is too fine and can easily become compacted. Avoid using beach sand, as it may contain salt and other minerals that can be harmful to your plants.

To create a suitable soil mix for succulents, you can use a combination of sand, perlite, and a well-draining potting mix. A good ratio to start with is 1 part sand, 1 part perlite, and 2 parts potting mix. However, it’s important to note that the exact ratio may vary depending on the specific needs of your succulent species and the conditions in which it’s being grown. It’s always a good idea to do some research on the specific needs of your plant and experiment with different soil mixes to find what works best.

Can Succulents Grow in Rocks Without Soil?

Not all succulent species depend on cultivation in soil. In their habitats, they have learned to survive on alternative materials to extract water and nutrients from the air or to collect them in leaf funnels.

can succulents grow in rocks without soil
In the wild, succulents are able to grow in rocks with minimal contact with soil

Several cactus species, such as the bishop’s hat (Astrophytum myriostigma), the Greisenhaupt (Cephalocereus) or the hedgehog column cactus (Echinocereus) are suitable for an indoor garden without soil or dirt. You can easily plant the desert cacti in lime-free sand or rocks, which you fill in a bowl or a terrarium.

To ensure that succulents without soil do not dry up, the most essential premises are a humid location and daily spraying with lime-free water. From April to September, add a liquid succulent fertilizer (or try this banana peel tea fertilizer) to the spray water every 3 to 4 weeks.

Planting Succulents in Rocks Indoors

Succulents such as the houseleeks (Sempervivum) are very undemanding and easy to care for. With Sempervivum, the most beautiful arrangements can be realized with a wide variety of materials and in different planters – the small plants simply grow everywhere, provided it is only warm, sunny and dry enough. As for many other alpine plants, a place in the stone garden is ideal for the houseleek.

planting succulents in rocks indoors

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Planting in rocks has many advantages, not only for the eye but also for the plants themselves. Like all succulents, the houseleeks are very sensitive to wetness and should therefore be as dry as possible. A stone garden or a planting on stone ensures a good outflow of excess water, after all, the material cannot store moisture. For this purpose, the larger stones store heat, which they also release directly to their surroundings. The warmth-loving house roots will feel particularly comfortable in such a location ergo.

However, when planting in rocks, you will always have to use enough soil, because even the undemanding houseleeks cannot do without soil or dirt. So if you want to put the plants on a large stone or between several stones, then either on the stone or in the cracks between the stones must fit enough soil so that the plants can root there.

Can Succulents Live in Moss?

It is generally not recommended to grow succulents in moss. Why?

Well, you will never find succulents and moss growing together in nature. Succulents grow best in a desert-like environment with full sun and gravelly soil, while moss loves growing in the shade and damp soil.

If growing succulents in moss, it should only be done for the short term, such as for temporary display purposes. In this kind of situation, extra care needs to be taken when watering the plants – with more water going to the moss compared to the succulents.

Will Succulents Grow in Water?

Succulent cuttings can be propagated in water. After placing the calloused cuttings in water, wait for the roots to grow slowly. You’ll need to fill the glasses with water as needed.

When the roots have grown, instead of planting the rooted cuttings in the soil, some people choose to leave the cuttings in the water. The cuttings will continue to live and survive in the water indefinitely. Just worry about swapping the water for fresh clean water every few weeks or as needed.