Mulch is a type of material that is meant to protect the top of the soil. Despite this protective layer, mulch allows both air and water down into the plant roots. Mulch is also a great way to give your garden a cleaner aesthetic and can even contribute to the overall theme of a particular flowerbed.
Generally speaking, most gardening practices will advise spreading your mulch out after you’ve planted but this will only happen in new areas. Areas that are already planted and mulched doesn’t mean that flowers are not able to be added later.
Planting After Mulch Is Installed
When mulch systems are installed, they are generally left alone. The most common way to plant in mulch is to simply scrape some of the mulch off to the side and then plant the flower. The only problem here is that the soil will clump up on the surface of your mulch.
Make sure that if you plant in mulch, that you carefully take the mulch off and place it off to the side in a pile. When you get to the soil, dig out a hole using a hand cultivator and then put that soil that you’ve removed into some kind of container. This is to keep the soil from permeating the mulch.
Plant your flower and then place the soil from the bucket back into the hole. You can then move the mulch back into place, smoothing everything back down. Just make sure that you keep at least one to three inches of space between the mulch and the stem of the flower.
Why Use a Mulch?
While mulches are generally enjoyed for their ability to provide a cleaner, more uniform look to a garden space, they actually have great growth benefits for your garden, too. Mulch is great for reducing the loss of moisture in the soil that happens through the evaporation process.
In particularly hot climates, it can be difficult to keep soil watered and moist; soil helps to keep that moisture trapped for longer so that the roots of the plants can absorb it. Many flowers don’t have to be heavily watered in those hot-weather areas and the roots are often insulated from extreme temperatures.
Mulch also holds some of that warmth in the soil while also preventing overheating on the hottest of summer days. Not only that, but mulch is also a great way to help reduce weed growth. It helps to reduce the weed’s ability to compete for the moisture and nutrients that they need to thrive. Mulch does this by denying the weed seeds the access that they need to the soil.
What About Organic Mulches?
Organic mulches are made from different plant materials. These materials break down and then create added nutrients for the soil beneath. Most organic mulches will let you plant flowers right into them since they will tend to stay loose.
Organic mulches tend to have pine needles, dried leaves, and even lawn clippings. Make sure that any organic mulches that come from yard clippings are pesticide-free and herbicide-free. Straw mulch is another great organic mulching idea. It stays loose for easy movement but adds four or five inches of protection to the garden where it is laid. You can even go with shredded bark for a darker, richer look that is applied in two-inch depths.
On the flip side, inorganic mulches tend to be a lot denser and heavier than organic mulches. This makes them a bit more difficult to move around and even worse for planting in. Your inorganic mulches will include stone, gravel, and even shredded rubber.
You can also go with decomposed grass when using it in layers that are an inch or two deep. Tumbled grass, meanwhile, can be spread out in layers that are around two or three inches in depth. This is also a more expensive variety of mulching. The one cool thing about inorganic mulches is that they can come in a variety of colors that can help to complement the flowers in your garden and even stand out in a unique way (reds are very popular inorganic mulching options).
Be Careful When Using Mulch
Though it is possible to plant in mulch, it is important that caution is used. Remember how mulch can stifle and kill the growth of weeds? Well, if the mulch is too thick, it can work in much the same manner on some of your plants.
Perennials in particular tend to struggle with being planted in mulch. When perennials grow, they tend to get larger or spread, and some of these mulching fabrics can restrict and even kill them during the growth process.
It is recommended that most planting be done before mulching, but if you have a late addition, it can certainly go in after the mulch has been laid down.