Mulching Flower Pots, Window Boxes And Planters

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 09:04 pm

Mon beau paillage, roi de l'hiver ! - Vive le Végétal

Why mulch, mulch or cover your flower pots and what are the different mulches you can use?

Even in containers, flowerpots and window boxes, you can apply a vegetal cover (mulch, mulching,…).
In addition to loosening your soil, it favors the action of micro-organisms, conserves moisture and limits watering. In the long run, you will obtain a more alive, more flexible and more aerated soil.

Mulching Flower Pots, Window Boxes And Planters

To understand the usefulness of mulching, let’s take the most famous example but also the most telling:

Most of the time the ground is never bare, it is covered with dead leaves and dead wood. During a walk in the woods, we have all had the impression of walking on a carpet of moss.

This natural cover allows the formation of litter

Litter is the natural environment for micro-organisms that work to decompact the soil and break down organic matter 24 hours a day. These micro-organisms are mainly composed of earthworms and fungi.

Without this cover, there are no micro-organisms and therefore no litter.
This cover is mainly made of brown matter also called carbonaceous matter. It is mainly leaves and dead branches that fall to the ground throughout the year. But it is especially in the fall that most of this cover is naturally put in place when the deciduous trees go dormant.

As I said, the cover helps conserve moisture but it also creates a favorable environment for the micro-organisms that live on the soil surface by protecting them from the cold and by plunging them into darkness so that they can quietly digest the organic matter that is on the soil surface.

See also  How To Properly Prune An Apple Tree: Important Tips

As you can see, mulching is life!

In the long term, a soil without a cover will be depleted in trace elements and will then compact (we also say erode) under the action of the sun and the rain, which may lead the roots of your plants to asphyxia.

The different types of mulch you can use on potted plants


This is the ideal, it is easy to handle during planting.
If you have farmers or stables near you (on your way to work or shopping for example) try to see if they have any. Of course ask if it is from natural pastures.

Advantage: easy to find and often of good quality.
Disadvantage: must be renewed often.


Personally I avoid straw because it is too poor in trace elements and often chemically treated.

Advantage : lasts a long time.
Disadvantage: good quality straw is hard to find.

Dead leaves

It is not very practical but it helps when you have no choice. You can collect them in public parks or in the forest.

Prefer naturally formed piles. The thicker they are, the richer they will be in micro-organisms. If you see some worms, don’t hesitate to take them, they will be very useful in your pots!

Choose the most remote places, nature will be less disturbed by man and the quality of your cover will be better.

Advantage : free.
Disadvantage: not practical and only available in the fall.

Dead wood and ramial fragmented wood (RCW)
Still in parks and forests, dead wood or RCW brings structure to your mulch.

See also  Gardening In March: What To Do?

Advantage: promotes mycelium.
Disadvantage: difficult to find at certain times of the year.

Lawn mowing

If you have a neighbor who can give you some, everyone will benefit. Do it gradually, letting it dry between two applications, as the grass quickly heats up and could burn your plants.

Advantage: maintains humidity well.
Disadvantage: the mowing must be done before the grass goes to seed to avoid the proliferation of weeds and must be dried before being applied.


Personally, I am a bit worried, even if there is very little risk, it is possible that small iron dust or other undesirable particles may be found. It’s up to you to judge according to the origin of your sawdust.

Advantage : free at the carpenter’s.
Disadvantage: may contain undesirable particles

Stone / Pebbles

It could be very well for an olive tree or a thyme because they are not very demanding in trace elements and humidity but I advise you against it for vegetables.

Advantage: stores heat.
Disadvantage: not practical and not very nutritious.

Create your own mulch!

In summer, go hunting for weeds! When they are dense and high, take your pruning shears and collect a full bag of small cuts of 5-6 cm. Be careful, it could be long ^^

Then, dry them by spreading them out in the sun or in a potato bag! Otherwise you can put them little by little on the surface of your pots (like for the grass).

To Summarize, here are 3 good reasons to mulch your pots

Protect your soil from erosion, your pots will keep the humidity and will dry less quickly.
Feed the micro-organisms and create humus filled with trace elements.
I didn’t tell you about this but it limits the growth of unwanted weeds! And even if there are some that appear, they will be pulled out very easily. Simply cut the aerial part and leave the roots which, most of the time, will rot and be decomposed by micro-organisms.

See also  How Do You Take Care Of A Spindle Tree?

How to mulch well?

It is not very complicated, for a good mulching count about 5 to 10cm minimum according to the size of your pot. Don’t hesitate to pack and to put a border around the edges of your pots to avoid overflowing.

Water well the first time and watch for the emergence of unwanted weeds for a while if they bother you but they will become rarer you will see.

Now you know everything!

And don’t forget to leave your remarks or questions in the comments!


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts. Jones James

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *