About Terrace Mulch Cocoa Shell Potting Mulch

If you like the smell of chocolate this is a mulch for you!

Cocoa Shell mulch is the broken up shell from cocoa beans. It has a dark brown color and darkens even more after time as it decays. Its natural elements make it a great soil conditioner and has been found to deter unwanted garden pests such as slugs and termites. Ingestion by your pets could cause illness. Sometimes mold can appear, but it’s harmless and routine cultivation can prevent it. We invite you give it a try in one of your garden areas or potted plants.

Below is a letter given to us many years ago from Hershey Gardens about Cocoa Shell Mulch.   

Hershey Gardens

Hershey’s Cocoa Shell Mulch has been widely used and recommended by Hershey Gardens for over 30 years, and has been the mulch of choice for its award-winning collection of over 8,000 roses.

The question has often been raised about the occurrence of mold in Cocoa Shell Mulch, how it occurs and what, if any, effect it has.

Cocoa Shell Mulch is used in three different manners in the Gardens.  First, and foremost, it is applied as bedding mulch to maintain moisture in the soil and help prevent weed growth.  A common mistake in this usage is the tendency to apply the mulch too thickly, which will lead to mold in the mulch.  Hershey Gardens recommends that the mulch be applied to a thickness of no more than 1” to 1 ½”.  Thicker applications will certainly lead to more growth of mold.  If any mold does appear in the beds, especially in wet conditions, it is harmless, and can be eliminated by simply scratching up the surface of the mulch.

Secondly, Cocoa Shell Mulch is heavily used at the Gardens as a winter-protection mulch for roses.  In late November, after the rose canes have been cut back to a height of 3’, a 10-inch mound of Cocoa Shell Mulch is applied to each rose plant, then soaked to keep it in place.  This mound of mulch remains in place until Mid-March when the roses are again pruned and the mulch is spread around the plants.  The mounds of mulch will mold throughout the winter – again, it is harmless, and is controlled when the mulch is spread out over the beds.

Finally, Hershey’s Gardens uses Cocoa Shell Mulch as a soil amendment in preparing beds of roses, annuals and chrysanthemums for planting.  Here, a fine (no more than ½”) layer of Shell Mulch is spread over the beds that need amendment before tilling, and then tilled into the soil, providing excellent drainage and organic matter to the soil.  No mold has occurred with this manner of use. 

For the last three decades, the experiences at Hershey Gardens has been that, at most, any mold that occurs in the Cocoa Shell Mulch is a minor, cosmetic inconvenience that is easily controlled with proper application and routine cultivation.  As always, Hershey’s Cocoa Shell Mulch remains the mulch of choice for Hershey Gardens!

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