Many tropical houseplants need high humidity to thrive, and an easy DIY pebble tray can help. Here’s how to make a pebble tray for plants.
The humidity level inside the average home is very low compared to a tropical outdoor environment. With air conditioning and central heating, we tend to strip much of the moisture out of our indoor air. But what feels comfortable to humans isn’t always the best for our humidity-loving houseplants!
Although many tropical houseplants crave moisture, they don’t usually enjoy sitting in wet soil for too long. Consistently wet soil can prohibit oxygen from reaching the roots, causing root rot.
To increase the humidity in the air around your tropical plants, you have a few options:
- Use a humidifier (I’ve used this model for years for both plants and kids!)
- Spray your plants’ foliage daily with water using a mister
- Group your humidity-loving plants together. As the plants release water from their leaves (transpiration), they will all share that added humidity.
- Move your plants to a higher-humidity area, such as a bathroom or the kitchen
- Place your plants on a DIY pebble tray
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What is a pebble tray for houseplants?
A pebble tray for plants is simply a shallow dish, filled with pebbles and water, that provides humidity around a plant or a group of plants.
If the pebble tray is as wide or a little wider than your plant’s entire span of foliage, it can create a slightly higher humidity zone around the plant as the water evaporates.
You can make a pebble tray for just a single houseplant, or create a larger pebble tray for a grouping of plants.
A DIY pebble tray is a quick project that can boost the humidity around your plants and help them thrive. Of course, if the air in your home is very dry, you may need to supplement with another source of moisture like a humidifier or daily misting.
Some signs that your plants need higher humidity
If you have a humidity-loving plant that isn’t suffering from over- or under-watering, any of these signs might indicate that your plant needs more humidity:
- Dry, brown patches on leaf edges or tips
- Leaves feel crispy and dry
- Leaves are splitting
- Plant starts to wilt
- Leaves turn yellow
- Flower buds don’t develop, or they drop off
- Flowers shrivel soon after blooming
Types of houseplants that can benefit from a pebble tray
All the plants below enjoy high humidity, and would benefit from a pebble tray if your home’s conditions are on the drier side.
- Carnivorous plants (Venus flytraps, sundews, pitcher plants)
- Citrus plants
- Chenille plants
- English ivy
- Ficus (fiddle leaf fig, weeping fig, rubber plant)
- Fittonias (nerve plants)
- Mimosa pudica (sensitive plants)
- Palms (majesty palm, Kentia palm)
- Peperomias (certain varieties including peperomia watermelon, incana, and serpens)
- Zebra plant
How to make a pebble tray to increase humidity for your houseplants
- Shallow dish or tray that’s at least as wide as your plant’s leaf span
- Decorative pebbles (polished river rocks, bonsai gravel, or glass gems all work well)
- A humidity-loving potted houseplant
You might even be able to make a pebble tray with materials you have around the house! I found an old white ironstone baking dish that was the perfect size for my new little watermelon peperomia.
Other ideas for pebble tray containers you might have on hand are:
- Drip tray from a flowerpot
- Pie tin
- Ceramic tart dish
- Pasta bowl
For the pebbles, I had some leftover large aquarium pebbles that were just the right size. Landscaping gravel or beach pebbles would work as well. You just don’t want to use larger stones, because your planter needs a somewhat flat, stable base to sit on.
Your houseplant can remain in whatever pot it’s already living in, whether that’s a nursery pot, a planter and drip tray, or a cachepot. Once you’ve assembled your pebble tray you’ll have a dry, flat surface for your pot to sit on.
Assembling your DIY pebble tray
Fill your tray with 2-3 inches of pebbles. Spread the pebbles out to make the surface flat and level.
Pour water into the tray, leaving about a half-inch of dry pebbles at the surface. Your plant is going to sit on this dry layer of pebbles—you don’t want the water to reach the drainage hole of the pot.
Place your potted plant in the center of the pebble tray. Return your plant and its new pebble tray to its usual spot in your home.
Add water to your pebble tray as needed. You’ll need to add water more frequently in super-hot weather, or if your heating or A/C are blasting.
Be sure to rinse your pebbles and replace the water in your new pebble tray every couple of weeks to avoid attracting insects. This will also flush out any fertilizer residue in the tray.
How to Make a Pebble Tray for Plants
- Shallow dish or tray that's at least as wide as your plant's leaf span
- Decorative pebbles (polished river rocks, bonsai gravel, or glass gems all work well)
- A humidity-loving houseplant
- Fill your tray with 2-3 inches of pebbles. Spread the pebbles out to make the surface flat and level.
- Pour water into the tray, leaving about a half-inch of dry pebbles at the surface. Your plant is going to sit on this dry layer of pebbles—you don't want the water to reach the drainage hole of the pot.
- Place your potted plant in the center of the pebble tray.
- Return your plant and its new pebble tray to its usual spot in your home.
You may also like:
- 11 Easy Houseplants for Beginners
- 12 DIY Indoor Hanging Planters to Beautify Your Home
- How to Get Houseplants for Free (Or Really Cheap)
- How to Make Water Soluble Calcium Eggshell Fertilizer
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Have you made a DIY pebble tray for plants? Has it helped your humidity-loving houseplants? Let me know in the comments below!
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I always loved the look of pebble trays but I mistakenly assumed it was only decorative. Thanks for the insight as to its benefit!
Hi Ronnie, that’s the great thing about pebble trays – they can be really decorative and practical at the same time!
I never knew that! I could’ve probably used that with the 3 plants I haven’t managed to keep alive.
Hi Cinny, if your plants are tropicals that love humidity, you should absolutely try a pebble tray!
I usually take the easiest route possible and stick with artificial plants! But yes, for real plants, this method looks like a good solution. I don’t want to constantly run a humidifier in my house.
Hi Bryan, I’ve never had any luck with artificial plants – I can’t get them to grow 😉 Kidding aside, if you do try some live plants, a pebble tray is much more low-maintenance than filling a humidifier every day!
I have a terrace garden and I love decorating it with lovely plants – all sorts. Liked the pebble tray, will definitely have them adorned this way.
Hi Kuntala, I bet your terrace garden is lovely! I’ve never tried a pebble tray outside – where I live we have decent humidity during the warmer months. But I bet in a drier climate it could work outdoors.
The flower looks beautiful inside that pebble tray. I should try at home.
Hi Caroline, give it a try! Pebble trays are both useful and decorative 🙂
That is such a nice pebble tray. So easy to do! Thanks for sharing it. I’ll do it on weekends.
Hi Emman, glad you liked my pebble tray tutorial! I bet your plants will thank you 🙂
I love indoor plants so much! Thanks for sharing.
Hi Angela, aren’t houseplants the best? Thanks for reading!
Such a great post Carrie Ann! I am moving soon and plan to re-pot and reorganize all my plants and will definitely come back to this!
Lindsay, I’m glad you liked this tutorial! Good luck with the move and the plant reorganization 🙂 Sounds like the perfect time to add some pebble trays for your plants!
I am not into gardening but this pebble tray is really good. Great DIY!
Hi Mondipa, thanks for stopping by!
What a great idea! So smart and pretty!
Hi Jessica, I’m glad you like it! Thanks for reading 🙂
I’ll have to give this a try with my new plants!
Hi Brianna, I bet any of your new tropical plants will love the extra humidity!
I recently got a Citrus plant, and this was indeed helpful! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
Citrus trees LOVE humidity, so a pebble tray underneath its pot would be a great idea!
The pebble trays look so good. Nice and polished and pretty. 🙂
Thanks, Rosey! I love how pebble trays look, too. It’s fun to customize them to fit your personal style!
I also decorate my plant like this. I put a plant in a pot that is large enough to hold the roots in potting soil. Any low dish or tray can be used along with water and pebbles or gravel to create a humid local area for plants that need a little moisture.
Hi Yudith, exactly! Glad to know your pebble trays are working well for your plants! 😀
Now I know why I’ve managed to kill off so many houseplants. This is a great idea, and so pretty, too!
Hi Michelle, a dry environment could have contributed to their demise if they were tropical houseplants! Give a pebble tray a try – they’re so easy to make 🙂
I’m a huge houseplant mama and I love this tutorial! Saving for later, thank you!
Hi Genevieve, glad you enjoyed my DIY hanging planter picks! Have fun making your favorites 🙂
I never thought pebbles would help with humidity. I’ll try it on my orchids:)
Hi Mihaela, orchids love pebble trays! Glad you came across my post 🙂