How to Choose Mulch

A mulch is a layer of protective material placed over soil. It assists in retaining moisture, conserving warmth, and preventing soil splash on foliage and flowers. There are a variety of mulches to choose from, principally:

Clay Granules

Clay granules are widely used for hydro-culture, but can also be used to mulch houseplants. When placing a plant in a cachepot, fill all around the pot with granules. When watered, the granules absorb moisture, which is then released slowly to create a moist micro-climate for the plant.

Pricking Out

When seedlings have grown to a manageable size, prick them out using tweezers, taking care to avoid root damage. Some seedlings will be uniform in size, if not, sort by size into individual pots for the larger ones, in rows in a seed tray for the smaller ones.


Gravel makes a decorative mulch for container plants and also provides the correct environment for plants such as Alpines. It is available in a variety of sizes and colors which can be matched to the scale and colours of the plants used.

Saucers and Feet

Saucers act as water reservoirs for the plants, and are used under house plants to protect the surface they are standing on. Clay saucers must be fully glazed if they are used indoors or they will leave marks. Plastic saucers can be used to line containers which are not waterproof, such as this wooden apple basket. Clay feet are available for terracotta pots.


Smooth stones can be used as decorative mulch for large container-grown plants. You can save stones dug out of the garden or buy stones from garden centers. Cat owners will also find they keep cats from using the soil surrounding large house plants as a litter tray.

Plant Supports

Climbing plants need support even in containers. Support can be provided by-using canes which can be pushed into the pot, or a trellis which is fastened to a wall or a free standing frame.