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TikToker warns against popular hack for growing potted plants: 'Don't do this'

"This explains why my houseplants started to decline after my last repotting."

Potted plants

Photo Credit: @fromdreamtoseed / TikTok

Whether you're a certified #plantdaddy or new to the whole gardening thing, you've likely heard the "hack" to put rocks in the bottom of your plant pots for increased drainage. But one TikToker (and master gardener) says if you like your potted plants, "Don't do this!"

@fromdreamtoseed If you like your plants, don't do this! Adding rock or other coarse material to the bottom of containers will result in a super saturated soil layer. #gardentips #containergardening #gardenhack #gardentipsforyou #pottedplants #pottingsoil ♬ Lofi Vibes - Gentle State

The scoop

Jessica (@fromdreamtoseed) recently posted a video explaining why this common hack isn't actually a good idea. 

In the video, she explains that water doesn't easily move from the fine-textured potting soil to coarse-textured rocks or gravel. Instead, the water will stop at the layer of soil just above the rocks. With nowhere to go, that layer of soil becomes fully saturated.

"Why does water run out the bottom of my pot (with gravel) when I water my plants?" one TikToker was quick to comment. 

But as Jessica explains in the video, more water in the pot will eventually force water down through the rock and out the bottom of your pot, but it will still leave you with that saturated layer. 

How it hurts your plants

Plants are resilient, but oversaturated soil means less oxygen, which creates a less-than-ideal environment for growth. 

Instead of rocks, Jessica explains that choosing the proper potting soil for your plant type and using a simple hole-in-the-bottom plant pot is enough to ensure there's proper drainage for your leafy companions.

What people are saying

With more than 17,000 views and 850 comments, Jessica's debunking of this common gardening myth really ruffled some feathers. Many commenters share that they've been using rocks for years and have never had any problems. Others argue that this simply isn't how gravity works. 

But Jessica went on to create a second video further explaining why this "hack" can impede drainage. She also went on to provide numerous sources confirming her advice. 

Despite some apparent diehard rock fans, many commenters were happy to be learning something new, with users exclaiming, "I learn so much on here!!" and "Great advice thanks 👍"

Some even figured out the reason some of their plants aren't doing too hot, with one saying, "This explains why my houseplants started to decline after my last repotting when I did this exact thing to 'help' them 😩."

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