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For looks, I have the soil around my Jade plant covered with small rounded pebbles for a different textured look.

Does this actually cause water or moisture retention? Should I simply have the soil open to the air to dry out properly between waterings? With this pebble cover on the soil, could I be introducing other issues about the plant, such as disease, bugs, etc?

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Adding pebbles to the top of the pot would likely somewhat reduce the rate that water evaporates from the pot simply by reducing the amount of moist soil that is directly exposed to drier air.

Of course, this can be accounted for very easily just by reducing the frequency of waterings to allow the soil a little more time to dry. The pebbles themselves shouldn't create any extra issues, aside from possibly extending the time between watering.

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