7 Best Rocks to Pair with Succulents


Succulent mania is sweeping the nation. You may have noticed stunning photos of these plants taking over the Instagram feeds of gardeners and interior designers near you. Succulents are a fascinating family of plants that store water in their stems or leaves. They offer an endless variety of striking colors, shapes and textures to delight the eye.

Boulders with Succulents, Cacti and Lava Rock

Another reason for the extreme popularity of succulents is that they require very little maintenance and watering. Succulents can thrive in almost any environment and you don’t have to do much to keep them happy. This makes them the perfect no-fuss, no-hassle plant for the busy or forgetful gardener. After the initial planning and planting, you can just sit back, relax and enjoy your low maintenance landscaping.

While succulents are gorgeous on their own, they look even better when surrounded or paired with natural stone. Especially in outdoor gardens, stone can visually complement plants or provide a protective groundcover around them. Rocks and succulents are a match made in heaven.

Now, when we say “rocks”, we don’t just mean a rock you might pick up on the side of the road. Natural stone is a world unto itself, with different sizes, types and colors available for decorative purposes. For example, boulders are rocks that are generally 1 foot across or bigger. Crushed rock is made up of angular pieces of stone that have been sorted according to their general size. Rubble refers to larger pieces of crushed rock. Cobbles and pebbles are smooth and rounded stones. These are just a few of the natural stone products available for pairing with succulents.

 

So, what are the best rocks to use in a succulent garden?

Pebbles and Lava Rock with Succulents

 

To answer this question, we consulted two of our favorite (and local) gardening gurus. Here’s our short list of the top natural stone products to pair with succulents:

 

 

So, why did our experts choose these rocks in particular, and, more importantly, WHERE and WHEN should you use them?

 

Laura Eubanks is a Southern California garden designer, famous for her “succulent tapestry” designs. Her YouTube channel has 10,000+ subscribers and over a million combined views. She’s a clear favorite when it comes to creating spectacular outdoor gardens that require little to no maintenance.

Here’s what Laura has to say:

 

 

"Rocks are, in my opinion, as important as plants when creating a gorgeous succulent garden.

-Laura Eubanks, Design for Serenity

Succulent Garden with Boulder and Red Lava

“When designing with succulents, my crushed rock, boulder and pebble choices are of utmost importance! Selecting beautiful rock in an assortment of textures, sizes and colors puts my installations in a class by themselves. 

Rocks are, in my opinion, as important as plants when creating a gorgeous succulent garden.

My go-to products for top dressing (surrounding the succulents) are Red Lava or Desert Gold, in 3/8" or 3/4" sizes. Often, I will layer Red Lava 3/4" over Desert Gold 3/8" to accentuate specific plant vignettes.

My favorite boulders are the rich browns and reds in Baja Cresta or the warm gold tones in Gold Quartzite. These big boulders are fun to place as focal points around the succulent garden.

Running "ribbons" of chunky rubble throughout my gardens is my final signature touch and serves to add a three-dimensional visual element to the design. These ribbons also make a baby garden appear more mature. You can use Baja Cresta rubble for this as well. 

In summary, rocks ROCK and as a designer specializing in succulents, I'd be lost without them!”

-Laura Eubanks, Design for Serenity

You can check out more of Laura’s work at Design For Serenity and follow her installations on YouTube under Laura Eubanks.

Succulent Landscape Design with Rock Accents

 

Practical tips for landscape rock in succulent gardens

Outdoor Succulent Garden with Boulders and Lava Rock

 

Interviewing Laura Eubanks was inspiring, but we didn’t stop there. Laurie Fenly, Southwest Boulder’s horticulture expert, shared a few insider tips that blew us away.

Don’t make this mistake, says Laurie:

“In a full sun area, choose your colors wisely. The extra heat from darker materials can burn sensitive succulent leaves. Stick with a lighter color rock in sunny areas.” 

And her top pick for a succulent-rock pairing? 

One product that stands out to Laurie is Gambler’s Gold crushed rock. Many succulents have pink edges or highlights, so the pink shades in Gambler’s Gold can bring those colors to life. While the rose tones of Gambler’s Gold complement most succulents, the yellow and gold hues provide a contrast. This creates the perfect balance between stone and succulent.

Another option around succulents for those of you who love a more modern look are Mexican Beach Pebbles. These pebbles are round and uniform, creating a calming effect around your succulent garden.

And the best part?

Mexican Beach Pebbles come in a variety of color combinations. From black to tan to red, there’s sure to be one that appeals to you. 

 

My succulents are indoors or in planters and pots. Do I still need rocks?

In a word, yes!

Small Succulent Planter with Pebble Top Dressing

Even if you only have succulents indoors or in planters, rocks are still your best friend when it comes to making succulent arrangements. 

You can top-dress your planters with the same rocks Laura recommended, like Red Lava, Desert Gold or Gambler’s Gold. Gently surround your succulents to make an attractive frame for them in the pot. Just adding a few small pebbles in your planters can make all the difference.

If you've read this far, you deserve a bonus tip: River Rock and White Criva are two more rocks to try with your succulents. We spotted them in a few of Design for Serenity's projects like this one.

Have your own favorite rock to pair with succulents? Let us know in the comments!

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