Beware of Toxic Mulch
by Michael J. McGroarty -
bulbs need a good, long, winters sleep. Like some people we
know, if they wake up before they are fully rested, they get
kind of cranky, and then they donít bloom well at all.
what happens is during a mild winter, the soil stays too
warm, and the bulbs begin to come out of dormancy early.
They start to grow, and once the tips emerge above the soil
line, they are subject to freezing if the temperatures dip
back down below freezing. And thatís usually what happens.
After the bulbs have emerged, they freeze and then donít
bloom at all, or if they do itís a very sad display.
reason this happens is because the bulbs are not planted
deep enough. They may have been deep enough when you planted
them, but as the soil goes through the freezing and thawing
process, the bulbs can actually work their way up in the
ground. One way to keep your flower bulbs sleeping longer,
which will protect them from freezing, is to mulch the bed.
fall just apply a 3-4Ē layer of well composted mulch. This
layer of mulch will do a couple of things. It will maintain
a higher moisture content in the soil, which is good, as
long as the soil isnít too soggy. Well composted mulch also
adds valuable organic matter to the planting bed. Organic
matter makes a great natural fertilizer.
layer of mulch also acts as an insulator. It will keep the
soil from freezing for a while, which is good because you
donít want the bulbs going through a series of short cycles
of freezing and thawing. Then when the temperatures drop
below freezing and stay there for a while, the soil does
eventually freeze. Then the mulch actually works in reverse
and keeps the soil from thawing out too early. Keeping it in
a frozen state is actually good because the bulbs remain
dormant for a longer period of time.
they finally do wake up it is spring time, and hopefully by
the time they emerge from the ground the danger of a hard
freeze is past and they will not be damaged. If you can keep
them from freezing, they will flower beautifully. The extra
organic matter will help to nourish the bulbs when they are
done blooming, and the cycle starts all over again.
plant annual flowers in the same beds with our spring bulbs.
By the time the danger of frost is past and itís time to
plant the annuals, the top of the bulbs have died back and
are ready to be removed. The mulch that is added in the fall
also helps to nourish the annual flowers, as well as improve
the soil permanently. Anytime you add well composted organic
matter to your planting beds, you are bound to realize
multiple benefits. The key words here are ďwell compostedĒ.
Fresh material is not good.
Michael J. McGroarty is the author of this article. Visit
www.freeplants.com and sign up for his excellent
gardening newsletter, and grab a FREE copy of his
E-book, "Easy Plant Propagation"