Roses and most all garden plants are much happier with mulch.
My heart skips a beat when I see fresh mulch! Is it the fine finished look of garden beds, or the palpable joy in plants that makes me so in love with mulch? My answer is both, and much more.
Mulchless soil is like no blankets on a cold night.
And weeds take over in no time at all without mulch. The top half of the image is soil without mulch! My friends, I didn't spread that mulch just for a photograph – I put the mulch down in the winter when there were no weeds and waited for my photo op. Those weeds were a little too eager.
The benefits of mulch deserve a nice bulleted list.
- retains moisture
- trickle feeds
- deters weeds
- keeps earth soft and friable
- insulates soil in winter
- cools soil in summer
- provides a finished look to garden beds
- applying mulch is great excercise
My mulch of choice has always been shredded redwood bark. Wood chips, leaves, grape seed, small stones, hay, pinestraw (needles), cocoa hulls are also good mulches. All but the stones break down into lovely humus. I'm always stunned at how quick the break-down is. The earth is like a giant mouth and the soil is so much better for it. I apply mulch every year, but not always on the entire garden. People ask how close to the rose canes mulch should be applied. I spread it right up to the canes like a lovely hug.
If You Have Lots of Fall Leaves
Last week (February) I dumped garbage bags of silver maple leaves (from the big tree over the house) on a wide swath of dormant roses. It's not as dense as the redwood, but how nice to cover the earth with a little nourishment. In March of 2016 I'm updating this post and want to mention that leaf mulch like this does very well in the weed deterrent department.
For further reading, you might find this Wikipedia mulch entry helpful.