Transplant mulch: What is it, and types

Transplantation is always a special operation that requires a specific substrate that helps the plant to develop in a new environment. Therefore, the transplant substrate must have optimal conditions so that the plant suffers as little as possible with the change. Let’s see what we need to get a good transplant mulch substrate for our indoor or garden plants.


Mulch is primarily composed of advanced decomposing plant matter. We can naturally find it in the first layers of the soil as decomposed plant material. Mulch alone is not quite a substrate.

Normally, it ends up being an important part of the substrates, made up of more elements than we will now see. Compost and mulch are sometimes considered synonymous. The transformation base is the same (composted organic materials), but manure is usually added to the compost.

Mulch can be understood as the decomposition of plant debris only, but today there are still discrepancies regarding the terms and compositions of each of them. Another differentiation that could be established between mulch and compost is that the compost can be more recently decomposed or very decomposed or mature. Mulch is always understood as highly decomposed and mature organic matter.

What we are sure of is that the mulch-based substrate has a more or less defined composition and characteristics, with a certain variability within the different possibilities.

What is clear is that the mulch is an indispensable component for transplantation. The mulch substrate is mainly composed of  normal soil (clays, sands, silts …) with a significant amount of decomposing plant matter, although there are other types that we will see later.


The first thing it brings is exemplary organic nutrition to the plant. Whatever type of mulch it is, advanced decomposing plant matter provides the plant with practically everything it needs in this regard. In addition, the availability of nutrients is very high, so the plant does not have to make “extra efforts” to obtain them.

Secondly, it provides structure (loosening in the case of dense substrates) and slows down the dehydration of the substrate. In addition, in plants destined for pots or planters, its use is more essential since, having obvious spatial limitations, the concentration of organic matter must be higher for the normal growth of the plant.


As types of mulch we can have as many as plant materials we have. Of leaves, of grains, of grain husks, of pine needles (low ph), of straw and hay, of bark are some examples, being very common of bark and leaves. On the other hand, the mulch substrates that can be made are mainly soil-content or soil-free.

  • Mulch with soil in the mix: It is the richest of all. They are usually balanced in terms of components, both mineral and vegetable. They are fine-grained and very dark. They are also heavy and hold water very well.
  • Mulch without soil in the mixture: These substrates are lighter and have as substitutes for the earth, elements such as coconut fiber, peat, rock wool that are the materials that give the substrate the support. The nutrition they provide is somewhat less (the earth itself contains mineral elements), and their physical properties can be somewhat unstable in the face of excess watering (they can retain too much moisture and become waterlogged), or become caked and harden if they dry out. Despite this, they are not a bad option.
  • Specific mulches: Specific mulches are usually formulated for certain physical, chemical and biological characteristics, depending on the type of plant for which it is intended. In general, the vast majority of plants will require a standard mulch substrate, but there are species such as orchids, cacti, bulbous, bonsai and ferns, among others, that require special characteristics. We will find a very wide commercial range.


  • 1/3 of mulch
  • 1/3 sand
  • 1/3 peat

It is usually a fairly common mixture that provides nutrients, structure and provides good drainage to most plants.

We hope that with this information you have enough.

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