Is it ok to put mulch in flower pots? | Simple ways to grow great flowers

It is ok to put mulch on the top of the soil in flower pots. Avoid placing mulch at the bottom of the pot as it will cause the soil to drain quickly and dry out. Mixing mulch through the soil should also be avoided as it will absorb nitrogen from the soil taking it from your flower’s roots.

Best mulch for potted plants

The bets mulch or potted plants is bark mulch for longer lasting plants. Annual vegetables or flowers can be mulched with a lighter mulch like sugar cane or straw mulch. The mulch will break down over a season and be ready to be replaced with the next seasons flowers or vegetables.

Mulching strawberries with bark mulch in pots is a great way to keep your mulch lasting longer. For more on mulching strawberries, check out my previous article.

I like using small bark mulch around strawberries and irises..

Here are the amazing benefits of each mulch type for flower pots.

Bark Mulch

Bark mulch is long lasting so is great for perennial flowers. It will only need to be topped up every 6 months and will keep the soil moist for longer. This will reduce watering and reduce wilting during hot weather.

Bark mulch is natural so will break down over time adding nutrients to the soil. The best thing about bark mulch is that it will prevent weed growth from any weed seeds that may drop on the flower pot soil. Bark is a heavier mulch so will stay in place in the pot when it gets windier compared to lighter mulches such as straw.

For longer lasting flowers like these daisies, use a longer lasting mulch like bark.

Straw Mulch

Straw mulch breaks down quickly which will add to the soil structure and improve it over time. This mulch works perfectly for strawberries, potted tomatoes, or quick growing flowers such as violas. Straw mulch feeds worms and soil bacteria quickly but can blow away if it gets very windy.

Straw works well for any plant and is an affordable, easily accessible mulch type. Sugar cane mulch is similar to straw mulch and can be bought in compressed bags making it easy to transport large amounts. Small amounts can be taken out of the bag as needed and covers many square feet.

Annual flowers such as pansy, violas or marigold love straw mulch.


Compost is a fantastic mulch for flower pots as it will hold water, add nutrients and improve the balance of soil bacteria. Compost made at home can even contain worms which will work through the soil of your flower pot aerating it and turning the compost into humus a fantastic soil improver.

Can you put mulch in flower pots?

Flower pots benefit from mulch because it will help to reduce watering. I love planting annual flowers in pots like violas. Bark or sugar cane mulch work well for these flower types. Place mulch on the top of the soil around 1-2 inches thick.

Avoid putting mulch in the bottom of the pot or in the soil. Both of these will stop the flowers from growing well, reducing their access to nitrogen and causing the soil to dry out.

Should you put mulch around potted plants?

Mulch can be useful to lay around potted plants that are placed directly on the soil. Potted plants will quickly be surrounded by weeds if there is no mulch placed around the bottom. Because of the extra water that will fall on the soil around the pot after watering, weeds will be fast to grow.

Place a 2-3 inch layer of bark mulch around the base of the pot on the soil. For extra protection against weeds, layers of newspaper or cardboard can be laid first before the mulch is added.

For more on mulching potted plants including the bottom of pots, check out my previous article here.

Decorative mulch for pots

Decorative mulch for pots looks great and also helps to keep water in and weeds out. Colored bark mulch is a great way to add color and decoration to your pot. Bark mulch comes in natural colors, black and red. This can complement your pot, flowers and make it look great.

I have chosen a naturally red mulch for top of my gray pots with bird of paradise. This color complements both the plant and the pot and looks great. A thin layer is enough to prevent weeds as the potting soil is usually weed free. It is only weed seeds that are brought in by the wind that can sprout.

Landscaping rock is also a fantastic mulch for the top of plant pots. It comes in a huge range of colors to match or stand out against the pot color. Get a mulch that matches the pot or try a white rock to stand out against the green leaves.

Flower pots on top of mulch

Flower pots can be placed on top of mulch to add extra room for the water to drain out. The mulch will absorb extra water that flows out of the pot preventing it from creating puddles or wet patches on your lawn. Bark mulch will absorb extra a water and landscape rock will disperse it evenly across the surface.

Landscaping rock is also a perfect base for laying underneath your outdoor pots. A central drainage hole is common for outdoor pots so a layer of landscaping rock will allow water to drain out easily. Lifting the pot up with pot feet will help this process but the mulch itself is usually enough to let water out easily.

Is it ok to put mulch in flower pots? | Summary

Putting mulch on the top the soil of flower pots is a great way to prevent weeds and hold water. Placing mulch underneath the plant pot will also allow extra water to drain out of the pot and prevent puddling. Avoid mixing the mulch through the soil as it can dry it out quickly and take nitrogen away from plant roots.

Mulch is great for plants, improves soil bacterial colonies and feeds worms.

Happy mulching.