Photo by Melody

Add a little zing to your pots! Mulching house and container plants.

By Glynis Ward (girlgroupgirlOctober 19, 2011

Want to take your houseplants from potted plant to living art? Try some creative mulching ideas! Mulches retain moisture, help keep pets out of soil and keep your “dirt” from looking so dirty. This little extra touch will have your indoor (and outdoor) potted menagerie looking like you paid a bundle for something that cost you a buck!

Gardening picture

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 1, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)  

I admit, my houseplants are naked and bare. They probably shouldn’t be, especially the plants that are not yet very full, but they are. To tell the truth, I just haven’t thought much about it. A few years ago a friend of mine began mulching all her plants with Spanish moss. It looked great! I did try a few with decorative stones, one of which still survives today (which tells you how hard I can be on houseplants!!).

houseplant with small stone mulch

variegated ironplant without mulch



When I started to work at a garden center, my garden partner, LeAnn dutifully set to making gorgeous containerized plantings. She has a real knack for them, and part of her artfulness is in the decorative mulching she chooses.
For indoor plants, LeAnn often combines sheet moss with glossy black or white stones. Just a few stones set on the “seams” of the moss to hold the ends in place. Sometimes she will use beautiful dried Spanish moss, which is grey and usually needs no additional adornment. The curly texture of this moss makes it nest-like around plant stems.

bay plant with sheetmoss in containerThere are times when LeAnn also chooses “real” mulches such as the coconut mulch which comes in compressed blocks. It has a beautiful red-brown natural color, and is perfect for tender plants and trees that you might take outdoors in summer and bring back in when the temperatures drop.
tea camellia in coconut mulched container
Lastly, LeAnn shows her true artistic tendencies with living mulches. Often termed “groundcovers” – live plants can act just as mulch does- to camouflage soil and hold in moisture. Tiny sedums can be used as living green carpets around larger houseplants – especially single stemmed specimens. Or, you may choose to add “living mulch” to your perennial container plantings as in the first picture, above. Creeping jenny, ajuga, small colorful heucheras, beautiful living mosses, tiny ferns…all manner of small or tiny leafed trailing plants make excellent living mulches.

Little finishing touches like mulch can make your plants look just like they came from an expensive florist.
spanish moss, stone and sheet mossTiny adornments can take your plant from sophisticated simplicity to whimsical fun. Whatever your style of plant or decoration, mulch is inexpensive and can add a little finesse.


Special thanks to LeAnn Howard of The Village Green in Atlanta

  About Glynis Ward  
Glynis Ward Music, color and gardening - the three go hand in hand in my Electric Garden. I enjoy gardening organically for 12 months of the year in the South and am garden speaker and educator, coach and designer. I write about rock'n roll, vintage fashion and of course, gardening.

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