How to Make a Pebble Tray for Plants

A pebble tray is an easy DIY project that can help improve humidity for your houseplants. Pebble trays are especially useful for tropical plants that thrive in more humid conditions. Making a pebble tray is simple, inexpensive, and can make a big difference for finicky foliage.

What is a Pebble Tray?

A pebble tray is a shallow tray filled with pebbles and water that is placed underneath a potted plant. As the water in the pebble tray evaporates, it increases humidity levels around the plant. This helps recreate the more tropical environments that many houseplants prefer.

Pebble trays are an excellent way to provide extra moisture for plants like ferns, orchids, calatheas, and other varieties that need more humidity than the average home provides. The evaporation from the pebble tray mimics the humid conditions of a rain forest floor.

Benefits of Using a Pebble Tray

There are several advantages to using pebble trays for houseplants:

  • Increased humidity – Pebble trays add much-needed moisture to the air around plants. This helps prevent dried out foliage and mimic a plant’s native climate.
  • Prevents crispy leaf edges – Extra humidity keeps leaf tips from turning brown and crispy, a common problem in dry indoor air.
  • Can reduce pests – Some insects and mites thrive in dry conditions. Boosting humidity helps deter these common houseplant pests.
  • Allows plants to flourish – Humidity-loving plants like ferns and orchids will be healthier and happier with a pebble tray boost.
  • Simple and inexpensive – Pebble trays are easy to make at home with supplies you likely already have on hand.

How to Make a Pebble Tray

Making a pebble tray is an easy DIY project. Here are step-by-step instructions:

Supplies Needed

  • Shallow tray or pan – This should be wide enough to fit under your plant’s pot with a little room to spare. Cookie sheets, roasting pans, and plastic trays all work well.
  • Pebbles or gravel – River rocks, aquarium gravel, and pea pebbles are ideal.
  • Water


  1. Fill the tray with a single layer of pebbles. Avoid very fine pebbles like sand which can easily promote mold growth. The pebbles should be about 1-2 inches deep.
  2. Place the potted plant on top of the pebbles, centered in the tray. Make sure the bottom of the pot is above the layer of pebbles and not sitting directly in the water.
  3. Fill the pebble tray with water until just below the pebbles. You don’t want the water level so high that it touches the bottom of the pot.
  4. Allow the water to evaporate and refill as needed to keep the pebbles wet. How often you need to add water depends on factors like temperature and humidity levels in your home. Check every few days and refill once the pebbles are mostly dry.
  5. Optionally, you can add pebbles around the outer sides of the pot that sits on the tray. This helps maximize evaporation surface area.

And that’s it! Keep your pebble tray filled with water and enjoy the humidity boost it provides for your plants. Monitor your plants and adjust the water level in the tray as needed. Don’t allow the plants to sit in waterlogged pebbles.

Pebble Tray Tips

  • Choose a tray size proportionate to the plant. For larger pots, use a bigger tray so it can hold enough water. For smaller pots, avoid an oversized tray.
  • For the biggest humidity boost, use larger pebbles that provide more surface area for evaporation.
  • Periodically rinse pebbles to prevent salt buildup. Let them dry completely before returning to the tray.
  • Consider placing the pebble tray on a waterproof saucer or plate to catch any overflow.
  • A humidifier can provide an alternative or additional humidity source if pebble trays alone don’t sufficiently increase moisture.

Common Questions about Pebble Trays

What types of plants benefit from a pebble tray?

Tropical foliage that prefers consistent humidity thrives with a pebble boost. Great options include ferns, orchids, begonias, prayer plants, and calatheas.

Where should I place the pebble tray?

Situate the pebble tray in a spot where the plant’s leaves overhang the rocks. This allows leaves to be closer to the evaporating moisture.

How much water should I use in the pebble tray?

Fill the tray with enough water to just cover the pebbles, but don’t overflow. The bottom of the pot should not be submerged.

How often do I need to refill the pebble tray?

Check every few days and refill once water drops below the pebble line. Refill frequency depends on temperature, humidity, and air circulation.

Can I use a pebble tray for plants not in pots?

Yes, a pebble tray can work for plants set in a cache pot or mounted on a wall. Place it near foliage to provide humidity.

The Bottom Line

Adding a pebble tray is an easy DIY project that can provide humidity-craving houseplants with the right amount of moisture. For just a few inexpensive supplies, you can recreate the humid tropical conditions picky plants prefer right in your own home. With proper care, a pebble tray can help your finicky foliage flourish for years to come.