Mulch for Indoor Plants – Pros & Cons [Plus Ideas!]

To mulch or not to mulch is the question most plant parents struggle with when providing the best care for their indoor plants.

While we know that mulching has many benefits for outdoor plants regarding moisture retention and nutrient supply, are the benefits the same for our indoor plants?

After all, they are indoors, protected from the elements, and lovingly watched over by some very protective plant parents. So why would they need mulching? 

Should I put mulch on indoor plants? Mulching indoor plants can be decorative and beneficial to your plant’s health, depending on the type used. Mulching helps prevent moisture loss caused by dry indoor conditions. In addition, natural mulches decompose slowly, providing additional nutrients vital to your plant’s health.

By weighing the pros and cons of mulching your indoor plants, you can decide what is best for your indoor plant family. Let’s dive right in! 

Pros and Cons of Mulching Indoor Plants

Mulching indoor plants can benefit your plant’s decorative look, health, and growth. However, it can lead to root rot and disease if done incorrectly. 

Benefits of Mulching Houseplants

Mulching houseplants helps plants in much the same way as mulching outdoor plants does. For example, the mulch provides a barrier against soil-moisture loss resulting in fewer watering sessions. 

In addition, if a natural mulch is used, this will decompose slowly, releasing additional nutrients into the soil. This provides your plant with a healthy food source and improves soil quality.

It also can prevent inquisitive pets from rooting around in the plant container and shield the sensitive roots of houseplants placed in bright sunny areas. 

Disadvantages of Mulching

Mulch covers the top layer of soil and can result in overwatering and subsequent root rot if you are not careful.

This is easily avoided by moving the mulch to one side and checking the soil’s moisture level before watering.

Using containers with suitable drainage holes and drip trays will allow excess water to drain away from the roots. 

Packing mulch too high around the plant stem can also result in rotting or diseased foliage.

Instead, ensure the mulch layer is thin, allowing for air circulation and preventing the accumulation of excessive moisture and humidity in which bacteria thrive. 

Mulches To Avoid for Indoor Plants

Avoid using outdoor mulches as they may introduce pests or pathogens to your indoor plant’s soil. Many pests and parasites can be found hiding in seemly clean outdoor mulch. 

In addition, heavy mulches made from rocks or extremely wet mulches made from wood chips can prevent water and oxygen from reaching your indoor plant’s roots.

The weight of the heavy mulch can compact the soil, removing essential air pockets needed for the roots to breathe. 

Options & Recommendations for Indoor Plant Mulch

A type of Dracaena plant with white stones for mulch sitting on a coffee table.

You can use many materials as a plant mulch for indoor plants. However, there are two things to keep in mind.

First, use a lightweight mulch that promotes air circulation and allows the roots to breathe. Secondly, avoid mulches that may contain pesticides or other harmful ingredients. 

Decorative Mulch

Using decorative mulch is a great way to add a little bling to your indoor plants. Most, however, do not provide any nutritional value to the soil.

There are some exciting options to consider, and some are even eco-friendly!

Excellent news for the eco-warrior in us. For example, you could use shells, recycled cocktail straws, or recycled rubber mulch. 

Decorative Stones

These stones can be bought in various colors and sizes and provide the perfect splash of color to any indoor plant.

In addition, they are lightweight, aid in moisture retention, and disguise the soil surface.

Marbles

Marbles used as mulch adds a range of colors and fun to any indoor plant. They also look great when arranged in patterns, and they help to reduce moisture loss. 

Glass Mulch

Glass mulch or recycled colored glass is available in many shades and has no sharp edges, making it the perfect mulch topping even for outdoors!

Its lightweight does not degrade and will not release toxins into the soil. In addition, it looks great and prevents soil-moisture loss! 

All-Natural Mulch

Natural mulch provides additional nutritional benefits to the soil, which is great for indoor plants that frequently require a top-up of fertilizer.

The added drawcard is most are readily available to purchase online or in your local garden center, and many of them are eco-friendly.

A well-known natural mulch is peat moss, but this is considered a non-renewable mulch source, and in addition, peat mining is not eco-friendly.

Other all-natural mulches include hay, well-rotted manure, leaf mold made from fall leaves, pine needles, and grass clippings. 

Spanish Moss

Spanish moss is an epiphytic plant that absorbs moisture and nutrients from the air. Because of its absorption qualities, it is beneficial as a mulch for potted plants and even outdoor gardens.

In addition, it drains well, so it won’t become waterlogged and cause disease and rot.

Coco Coir

This mulch is made from the outer fibers of the coconut husk that have been stripped from the shell. This mulch is rich in carbon, retains 30% more water than peat, and improves soil quality.

In addition, its neutral pH of 5.5 – 6.8 is ideal for most plants. 

Bark Mulch

Bark mulch is an excellent bio-degradable mulch. It retains moisture and looks decorative when used as mulch for potted plants.

Moreover, it improves soil fertility as it slowly degrades.

Cedar Chips

Cedar chips break down very slowly and provide a slight nutritional value to the soil over time.

However, they do aid with moisture retention, look great in potted plants, and are a natural repellent to pesky bugs such as termites, ants, and slugs. 

Hemp Mulch

Made from the stalks of the hemp plant, this mulch is bio-degradable, adds humus to the container soil, and aids in moisture and nutrient retention.

This mulch is ideal for young plants as it protects from heat and cold. 

Related Questions: 

How Do You Topdress an Indoor Plant?

First, water the plant to loosen compacted soil. Then using a trowel, scrape the top 2 inches of soil out of the container.

Next, add fresh potting soil and a dose of slow-release fertilizer. Water thoroughly, and check that the excess water is draining well. Finally, add a thin layer of your choice of mulch. 

Why Should Mulch Not Touch Plants?

The primary job of any mulch is to provide a moisture-retentive barrier for the plant. Therefore if the mulch is packed closely to the plant stem, it will cause it to rot. 

Conclusion

Mulching indoor plants is a super savvy way of ensuring your plants remain moist and nutrient-rich if using a natural mulch.

However, dressy mulch provides a decorative aspect to any indoor space. The choice is yours, and either way your plants will benefit as long as you don’t overdo it.