which mulch is better for roses???

Prettypetals_GA_7-8February 21, 2008

Hi everyone, Could you please tell me which mulch you think roses would prefer, pine needles or hardwood mulch or nuggets? I'm a newbie to roses and would like to get them off to a good start. Thank you, Judy

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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

compost is what I use...

Do you have room to start a compost pile?

I would personally use the pine needles after they have been composted a bit over mulches. I do use a mulch in my front border becuase it is a bit dressier... however, I got that for free as well, from work crews cutting down trees on the side of the road, they created massive piles, I kept bring my little station wagon back and grabbing it. The more I fill in the bed though the less I would use them. Compost is really the way to go!


    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 1:15PM
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This winter I have had a source for free horse manure compost so that's what I've been using. Before that I was going to use hardwood from a tree service company or a sawmill, because the hardwood decomposes pretty quickly into black soil, effectively improving your soil. I have used pine straw for its acidifying characteristic. It may not be much, but I was doing everything I could to lower the PH. I have used oak leaves from my trees, too, also acidifying. I would not use bark.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 1:26PM
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I like to use coffee grounds, shredded leaves, pine needles, composted horse manure - I've even been known to go scrape off the decayed grass and leaves in the street in front of houses on my street and haul it home to my gardens.

I filch grass clippings bagged in the neighborhood, am a regular at the Starbucks for their free used grounds. I've ground up old bananas and peelings in a blender and poured it on the base of plants. Alfalfa sludge from alfalfa tea or just the pellets or meal.

The roses are thriving, and I think it's from the attention paid to the soil.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 5:33PM
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Silverkelt & Sherry, Thanks so much for the info. I like to put some kind of mulch to make the beds look prettier. It always gets decomposted leaves but I rake out the ones that haven't rotted yet to put down other mulch with it. Wasn't sure if roses might like needles better.
Thanks, Judy

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 5:42PM
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Thanks Duchesse, I too have heard of the alfalfa tea and coffee grounds. I bet your roses love all of the attention your soil gets. I just wanted something to pretty up the ground around the bushes. Wondered which the roses would like better, hardwood mulch, needles or nuggets?
Thanks, Judy

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 5:53PM
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Inexpensive mulches made from soft wood (cedar, cypress, etc) break down too quickly and don't stay good-looking.
Shredded hardwood is easy to spread and lasts well; like all mulches it is dyed so if you don't like the looks of it one place, go somewhere else. Buy enough to do all the beds at one time so it matches.
Pinebark mulch (also shredded) is also very attractive; our local rose society president's 1st choice.
Large bark: I use this on top of the mulch in the back of the bed against the house, to give me something to stand on when I'm deadheading. Also if stays put if rain beats off the roof edge.
Pinestraw is free if you go collect it curbside, but expensive if purchased in bales. If you feed organically, or are scratching in dolomite lime, alfalfa, epsom salts etc. during the season, I find it's harder to push aside & pull back and the bed looks untidy after I've fed.
In selecting mulch, color and texture are important. The additional consideration, and the one that makes bark impractical, is that you need to pick up and discard diseased leaves which drop around the base of the plant. A shrub rake or even a hand rake makes this job easier.

ALL the organics mentioned above can be tucked under the mulch and you'll have lots of glorious worms!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 6:06PM
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Judy, here is a fact sheet on mulches. I didn't do a good job of answering your question, but I have realized that we have different purposes in using mulch - you are looking to beautify your beds, and I'm trying to enrich the soil. Mulches are used for both reasons.

You can see from this pic that I use pine straw for a finished look because I have such an abundance of it; it does add a continuity of color and texture, but it is somewhat of a pain to push aside. But I like it anyway and it's free. The other organic mulches I use I just put on top of the pine straw and don't worry about the looks because I think the roses and underplantings are what draw the eye. They eventually decay anyway.

This is a new bed from last spring and there isn't that much in the way of underplanting but you can see the pinestraw look. Thanks for your patience with my long winded explanation!

Here is a link that might be useful: mulch fact sheet

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 7:03PM
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gnabonnand(Zone 8 Texas)

I prefer using compost for mulch, in flat areas where erosion won't be an issue.
For the sloped areas, and I have lots of them, I've reverted back to using hardwood mulch.
I used to use pine needles, and loved it, but it is not plentiful in the Dallas area. If you drive 90 miles east of here (into the piney woods of East Texas), it's plentiful.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 9:02PM
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I want to thank all of you for your info. I guess I will just use what I can find that looks the best. Some of the nuggets around here just didn't look real pretty last year. Would open the bags and they looked older than what I already had. So I caried those babies back to Wally World. Duchesse your flower bed was so pretty and no you weren't long winded. Everyone thanks again for all your help. Judy

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 9:30PM
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decobug(z6a Idaho SW)

I have heard that Cedar mulch is very bad for roses. A chemical reaction thing. Wish I had written down exactly what it was...

Pine bark mulch nuggets can mold in certain weather conditions.

Roses love composted manure. I mix it with mills magic rose alfalfa + mixture 40/60 ratio and spread it around the entire bed. I constantly replace the compost when I see bare dirt...

Here is a link that might be useful: Mills Magic

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 10:48PM
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I have never heard of cedar being very bad for roses, I have been using cedar mulch for two + years now. So far, I have not seen any damage yet.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 9:23AM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

I've been using cedar mulch for 10 years, no adverse issues that I've seen.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 9:42AM
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Let me ask you about compost as mulch. It has been bagging me for year but never dared to ask. I use mulch partly to conserve moisture when it needed like last summer, and dress up the bed, so to speak. Further reason is to suppress weeds since weeds are a constant battle and a continuous gardening chore. I would imagine that compost being very good and rich soil would promote weeds instead of suppressing them. So when I use compost to rejuvenate the soil, I use mulch, cypress, cedar or hardwood lately to cover the compost and not to provide an ideal environment for weeds to germinate or get hold.

So, if I am mistaken, where and how I make a mistake in my assumption? As I see it, it is easier to pick them up from a cedar, cypress, and pine bark or hardwood mulch as to get rid of them if they grow in a good soil/compost.

How do you deal with weeds if you use good quality compost as mulch? Or, how do you avoid them?
IMHO weeds are not fussy, they grow id the soil is dry and they grow if the soil is wet.
With a severe arthritis and spinal problems weeding is one of the problems I try to minimize instead of promoting.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 10:52AM
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Decobug, msjam, and diane, Thanks for the info. I guess as long as I mulch with something the roses will appreciate it. It does help keep moisture in, weeds out and pretties up the bed. Judy
Ceterum, I will let the the ones on here that do compost answer all your questions since I don't have a compost pile. Good luck. Judy

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 12:00PM
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The best one is what's available locally, looks good and is a reasonable price. When my sister lived in NJ, she used spent liquorice root from a candy factory. it looked great (nice dark color) and did an excellent job. I've used crushed sugar cane (too light colored), shredded cedar bark (my favorite so far), pine bark nuggets, shredded pine bark - I don't much like the shredded dyed hardwood and think it looks too artificial, but that's just my take.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 4:57PM
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