Best Mulch For Tomato Plants (Top 6) 

Tomato plants are one of the easiest for beginner gardeners. However, there’s one thing you can do to increase the health of your tomatoes. Mulch them! Mulch will make your plants robust, tall, and prolific producers of tomatoes. So, let’s get into the best mulch for tomatoes!

Tomato plants benefit from mulching in several ways. One of the biggest benefits is that mulch adds essential nutrients to the soil. Your tomato plants can utilize these nutrients. Mulch also keeps your soil wet. Tomato plants prefer damp soil since it allows their roots to grow quickly. You will notice that the soil around your tomato plants will start to dry out and clump if you do not use any form of mulch around them.

Looking for a cheap mulch? I recommend using this around your tomato plants!

Tomatoes growing on a vine

What Are The Best Mulches For Tomato Plants? 

Grass Clippings

Grass clippings make an awesome mulch for tomato plants because they hold in a lot of moisture and, more significantly, protect the soil from the sun. Additionally, grass clippings decompose quite quickly, allowing your plants to utilize the nutrients much more quickly than they would with, say, mulch made of wood chips. Create a layer of 2 to 5 inches of mulch by spreading the grass clippings mulch over your tomato plants without actually touching the plant stems.

Hay

Hay is a fantastic mulch for tomato plants as well, and it works so well as a mulch because it is so rich in essential nutrients. Generally speaking, you can use either conventional hay or hay that has already begun to decay. Place the hay around the tomato plants, making sure that it doesn’t contact the plant’s stem. Water the mulch to hasten its decomposition and prevent wind from carrying it away.

Straw

Even though straw is not the ideal mulch for tomato plants, many people nevertheless use it because it is better than nothing. The main issue with utilizing straw as mulch is that it frequently contains a lot of seeds; as a result, wheat will eventually sprout from the mulch. Before watering, cover your tomato plants with a covering of straw 2 to 5 inches thick that doesn’t touch the plant.

Wood Chips 

Although it is not the best mulch, wood chips are a relatively popular mulch used for tomato plants. Wood chips decompose relatively slowly; it may take them one to two years to begin replenishing the soil’s important nutrients. For the best results, use compost or another mulch that decomposes more quickly if this is your first year mulching your tomato plants with wood chips.

On the other hand, wood chip mulch works wonders in controlling weeds. Cover your tomato plants with a layer of mulch, keeping it away from the plant stem by about 2 to 4 inches. It’s important to remember that tomato plants dislike having water on their leaves since it exposes them to infections. If you use wood chips as mulch, you will notice that when it rains, the water will splash around as it hits the wood chips; thus, you need cut off the tomato plant’s lower leaves to prevent them from getting wet.

Plastic Mulch 

Although plastic mulch is arguably the worst mulch for any plant, many individuals who produce tomatoes for sale frequently use it. Plastic mulch has the drawbacks of drying out the soil, not improving soil nutrient retention, and not adding important nutrients. While your tomato plants can also suffer, plastic mulch is great for preventing weeds from growing around your tomato plants.

Due to plastic mulch’s high heat absorption properties, heat will be held close to the soil surface, causing water to evaporate even more quickly and causing the soil to begin to dry up. Make sure to apply compost or organic mulch underneath any plastic mulch you use for tomato plants. Furthermore, you want to use a drip-feed watering system because plastic mulch tends to dry out the soil.

Rubber Mulch 

Some individuals use rubber mulch, which is typically manufactured from shredded tires, as mulch on their tomato plants. Rubber mulch has the drawback of frequently melting, especially in warm climates. Once the rubber begins to melt, all the chemicals in it will also seep into the soil and sooner or later degrade the soil’s quality sooner or later. Be careful to utilize compost or other organic mulch if you use rubber as a mulch for your tomato plants.

Rubber mulch does a great job of controlling weeds, but as it heats up, it will start to dry out the soil, so give your tomato plants regular waterings. Make sure not to let the rubber mulch touch the tomato plants’ stems as you spread it out around them in a 2-4 inch thickness.

Interested in rubber mulch? We’ve got a beginners guide on using it!

Cardboard 

Because cardboard is made of wood pulp, it makes a great mulch for tomato plants. The key distinction between cardboard and wood chips is that the former tends to decompose far more quickly than the latter. In essence, cardboard mulch has the same nutrients as wood chips. Use a layer of 2 to 5 inches of shredded or large pieces of cardboard as mulch around your tomato plants, making sure to thoroughly wet the mulch.

Here’s a complete guide on using and making cardboard mulch!

Newspaper 

Despite drawbacks, the newspaper can be used as mulch for tomato plants. The largest issue with using newspaper as mulch is the ink itself, which may include harmful substances depending on the type of ink used to print the newspaper. Additionally, some newspapers have chemical treatments that prevent water from destroying them, which is why you cannot flush them down the toilet.

Newspaper would ultimately decompose if used as mulch, although cardboard would likely be a better choice. Make sure to water the mulch and cover your tomato plants with a 2 to 5-inch layer of newspaper, keeping it away from the plant stems. Additionally, it is a good idea to apply an organic mulch in addition to the newspaper mulch, as this will allow the organic mulch to enrich the soil with beneficial nutrients.

Here’s our gardeners guide to using newspaper mulch!

Leaves 

For tomato plants, leaves make an excellent mulch since they are rich in nutrients and absorb water very well. Additionally, leaves have a tendency to break down very quickly. They will feed the soil where your tomato plants are developing. Make sure that the mulched leaves do not touch the plant’s stem when you place it around your tomato plants in a 2 to 5 inches layer, and then water it.

Pine Needles 

Pine needles can be used for mulch on tomato plants since they are rich in nutrients even if they decompose more slowly than grass mulch. The soil can become temporarily acidic due to pine needles, but this won’t affect your tomato plants. Once the pine needles have become brown, they will stop acidifying the soil and, as they decompose, will enrich it with beneficial nutrients.

Make sure the pine needles are not in direct touch with the stem of the tomato plant as you mulch your tomato plants with them in a 2 to 5-inch layer. Additionally, mulch made of pine needles can be combined with mulch made of cardboard, grass, hay, wood chips, and other materials.

Compost

Compost is a wonderful choice for mulching tomato plants since it has all the essential elements tomatoes require. Additionally, compost tends to decompose very quickly, accelerating your tomato plants’ growth. Remember that the compost you use will mostly decide how effective it is as mulch for your tomato plants.

Kitchen waste should not be used as mulch if you are composting them because it will start attracting pests. Make sure the compost is not in direct touch with the plant stem.

Final Thoughts 

As you can see, mulching tomatoes is simple; just be careful to choose the appropriate mulch. Your tomato plants will grow robust and healthy if you use an organic mulch that feeds the soil and helps retain water.

Interested in reading more about organic gardening? We have a library of free resources!

Best mulch for tomato plants

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