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To Mulch or Not to Mulch...

Posted by the_loam_ranger 8a Ennis NC TX (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 6, 05 at 8:57

Hi, Y'all--

Haven't been around much since last spring...hanging out too much on the Texas forum, I guess *grin*...

The bulb bed that I "established" (using the term loosely) last fall was pretty much a disappointment this season...don't know why, as I did everything "by the book". Everything that needed chilling, was, and for the recommended length of time. Everything was planted at the proper depth in good, very well-draining sandy loam. Everything was fertilized as recommended. And most of them were purchased from reputable suppliers (B&B and VE). Nevertheless, some of those bulbs didn't come up at all, and the display, from the ones that did come up, was less than spectacular. I've decided to fertilize heavily (bulb fertilizer, of course), then just wait and see what happens next spring, before I spend (waste?) any more $$, however. If that's not really the right course of action, please feel free to jump in here and make alternative suggestions.

Anyway, here's my problem and the real point of this post:

Despite my best efforts at keeping it out, the "crap-grass" got away from me during the summer (just TOO HOT here to get out and do anything in July, August, and--this year--September), and now the whole bed is a weedy, overgrown mess.

And here's my question:

Once I get out there (now that it's FINALLY cool enough) and clean all the grass out, can I put down a 2" or 3" layer of cedar mulch to keep it from coming back? Everything I read says to mulch AFTER the ground freezes--but that very rarely happens here. If I do lay down mulch, will everything (hopefully) come up through it?

Your wiser-than-me suggestions/comments would be greatly appreciated...

TIA and best to all,

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: To Mulch or Not to Mulch...

The bulbs will come up through the mulch OK. For your bulbs not to grow as you said happened last year you must have a problem in the soil. Did you dig down and see what happened to those bulbs? I buy only the cheapest tulips and every one comes up and blooms. Al

RE: To Mulch or Not to Mulch...

Definitely mulch. It is the only way to combat the weeds in the South. 2-3 inches is ideal. Ignore the advice about the ground freezing, it doesn't where you are. Mulch anytime. I get free mulch (pine needles, cypress leaves, whatever) every fall and I top dress the top with cypress or pinbark mulch. About the bulbs, they may have been planted too deep. All package labels are for the North. In the South, the bulbs should at a maximum be planted twice their depth (meaning the bottom of the hole should be 2 inches deep for a 1 inch bulb). If you plant them deeper they rot in the soil. If the foliage grew but no flower, they may have been overfertilized. Also, many spring bulbs do not perform well in the South. Also, they may have been planted at the wrong time or they were exposed to apples in the refrigerator which harms the bulbs. Check out Southern Livings garden guide and Garden Perennials for the Coastal South by Barbara Sullivan for bulbs that do well here and perenialize. You might want to add compost to your soil as well if it is heavy clay soil or the bulbs may rot.

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