Add Mulch and Protect Outdoor Tropical Plants

Renee Valdes
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Mulching now helps protect plants ll The Home Depot Garden Club

Now is a great time to add mulch and protect outdoor tropical plants. Mulch reduces weeds, keeps soil evenly moist and regulates soil temperature. Over time, it naturally decays and becomes part of the soil, adding nutrients and encouraging earthworms and other good stuff to happen underground.

For mulch to be most effective, it needs to be replaced one to two times a year. Shredded leaves and compost break down faster and may need replacement more often.

Specific to Hawaii, mulch allows for deeper penetration of water in the soil. During rainy season and areas of high rainfall, mulch helps protect outdoor tropical plants. Mulch also reduces runoff and erosion and increases soil permeability.

How to replace and add Mulch:

  1. Remove old mulch. Compost or recycle.
  2. Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch. The deeper the layer, the more protection for your plants.
  3. Mulch trees and shrubs to the drip line, as far as the branches reach.
  4. Keep mulch 3 inches away from the trunks of trees and shrubs. Do not mound like a volcano. It can kill plants.
  5. Fluff the mulch if it appears okay. Top off with 1-inch of fresh mulch of the same type.
  6. Lay mulch on top of your garden and allow it to naturally decay. If you mix wood mulch into the soil, it may rob nitrogen from plants.  
  7. Play it safe and don’t use mulch from freshly harvested trees or endangered ones. It can spread disease.
  8. Use rubber mulch only on playgrounds, not in the garden.

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