What To Put on Top of Potted Plants? (Top-dressing Potted Plants)

  • By: TheWalledNursery
  • Time to read: 7 min.
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You have plenty of options for top-dressing potted plants. You can use moss, grass, glass, mulch, river rock, slate, pebbles, and more! You’ll want to choose a dressing that looks nice but won’t harm the plant. 

Many gardeners use pebbles as their top dressing.

Top-dressing for potted plants ideas
Top-dressing for potted plants

The small rocks stop the water from evaporating from the soil, preventing the plant from drying out.

You have a lot to consider, so make sure to review all your options first. 

What Top Dressing Should I Use? 

There are so many different kinds of top dressing to consider!

The most popular options include:

  1. moss
  2. glass
  3. mulch
  4. river rock
  5. slate
  6. and pebbles

Let’s go over all these options together.

1. Moss Top Dressing 

SuperMoss (25322) Forest Moss Preserved, Fresh Green, 8oz

Moss is a great top dressing if you want a natural look for your potted plants.

It holds moisture very well and comes in many different types.

Preserved moss is popular because it looks the same for up to three years. 

2. Glass Top Dressing 

Glass is another option that looks great!

Glass pieces come in all kinds of colors and sizes, and looks beautiful in the light.

You also have the option of crushed glass or smooth glass, like marbles.

Many glass pieces you use in an aquarium also work well in a plant’s pot. 

3. Mulch Top Dressing 

Wallabaga Urban Thumb and Co Ultra Fine Garden Plant Mulch - Top Cover for Indoor / Outdoor Potted House Plants - Compact Size,Potting Mix for Urban Plant Lovers- 3.25 Quarts

Wood mulches are another great type of natural top dressing.

They look like wood chips and make your plant look “earthy,” even though it’s indoors.

As the wood decays, it also deposits more nutrients into the soil. 

4. River Rock Top Dressing 

River rock is becoming more and more popular for potted plants every day.

OUPENG Pebbles Polished Gravel, Natural Polished White Stones 3/8" Gravel Size, Small Decorative River Rock Stones 2-lb Bag (32-Oz)

These stones are smooth and round, giving your pot a sleek look, and you can find them in a wide selection of colors.  

You can find natural river rock and ones made from recycled plastic. They look the same and serve the same purpose, but are a lot cheaper!  

If you choose this option, you should avoid using black rocks.

They absorb more heat from sunlight and can damage the roots of the plants if they get too hot! 

5. Slate Top Dressing 

Slate is another type of rock you can use for a natural look.

Black and Tan Slate Chips | 20 lbs | 100% Natural Decorative Garden Stones | Ideal Ground Cover or Top Dressing | Adds Contemporary Look to Any Landscape Design | 1 Inch - 3 Inch

Slate as a top dressing consists of flat, usually gray or off-white rocks.

You can arrange them in patterns too. They’re excellent for suppressing weeds and trapping moisture in the soil. 

6. Pebbles Top Dressing 

Lastly, pebbles are the most popular top dressing for succulents.

Bonsai Gritty Mixed Rocks, Succulent Cactus Top Dressing Stones, Small Horticultural Decorative Gravel Pebbles for Indoor Potted Plants, Terrarium, Aquarium, Fairy Garden, DIY, 1.5 LB

They come in many colors, although tan and white are the most common ones. You can find small natural stones, as well as plastic ones. 

If you already have extra aquarium pebbles at home, you can easily add them to your potted plant! 

What Is Top Dressing? 

In gardening, top dressing is the final layer over the potting soil.

It can be another layer of rich soil, but it also can be decorative.

In other words, if you’re adding the top dressing to your potted plants, you’re likely using decorative dressings! 

Top-dressing for indoor plants
What is top-dressing for potted plants?

When most people think of top dressing, they think of tan pebbles.

However, there are so many different kinds- you don’t need to limit yourself to choosing a specific type.

You can even mix other materials for a unique look. 

In Short – Top dressing refers to any materials you add over the top of your potting soil. You want to choose an option that looks nice and arrange it, so you don’t crush or suffocate the plant. 

Why Add Top Dressing to Potted Plants? 

Why Add Top Dressing to Potted Plants? 
Add top-dressing to potted plants

There are plenty of reasons gardeners add a top layer to their potted plants!

  • It covers the soil, allowing you to decorate how you want. You can choose the materials and the color for different looks. 
  • Top dressing also prevents the soil from drying out as quickly. The rocks block the water from evaporating from the dirt, keeping it moist for longer. If you don’t want to water your plants as often, you should add it! 
  • You might’ve noticed that most gardeners add pebbles to their succulents. The rock layer holds the soil in place since succulents use thin, well-draining soil. Plus, it makes the colors of the succulent stand out more! 

Overall, there are many reasons why people use top dressing on their potted plants.

You might simply not want to see dirt in your clean home! 

What Top Dressing is Best For Outdoor Potted Plants? 

You can also use top dressing for potted plants you keep outside.

However, you’ll need to avoid using black stones since they’ll be in direct sunlight.

Many gardeners also choose to use natural top dressing, although you can use any! 

It’s better to add heavier top dressings, so you know that they’ll stay in place on windy days.

They also might prevent smaller animals and pests from digging up your plants. 

Moss is another excellent choice for outdoor potted plants! It’s straightforward to maintain and looks soft.

However, you’ll need to get the correct species for your area. Some like the sun, while others thrive in the shade. 

Overall – Nothing stops you from adding top dressing to your outdoor plants! You can use them in a pot and a garden bin. 

Can I Use Stones I Found Outside? 

You can use any stones or pebbles that you find outside!

However, you’ll need to make sure that you wash them first. You wouldn’t want to bring any insects inside.

Some rocks can house pests that harm your potted plants too! 

Washing rocks is pretty straightforward:

  1. Start by letting the rocks soak in water to break up dirt and debris for a day.
  1. Then, you just need to rinse them with warm water until they’re clean. A small amount of dish soap that you wash off well won’t hurt!  

In short, you can bring rocks in from the outside, as long as you clean them off first!

They’ll look nice, and you’ll know that there aren’t any pests hiding on them.

You can find nice rocks along river banks, in the woods, and just in your yard! 

Final Thoughts

You can use moss, grass, glass, mulch, river rock, slate, pebbles, and more to decorate your top-dressing plant pots.

we recommend using small rocks to stop the water from evaporating from the soil, preventing the plant from drying out. You can find nice rocks along river banks, in the woods, and just in your yard! 

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