The Q&A Archives: mulch

Question: Does rubber mulch have chemicals in it to harm the plants? If a person uses cypress mulch is it bad if a person has termites?

Answer: Rubber mulch should not harm your plants but a dark color can absorb and radiate summer heat so keep it a few inches away from the stems of your plants.

As for your question about cypress mulch, termites are attracted to mulch primarily because of its moisture-retaining properties, and the insulation it affords against temperature extremes. The mulch itself is of poor nutritional quality to termites and a non-preferred source of food. Since the moisture retaining properties of mulch are more of an attractant than the wood itself, it makes little difference what type of mulch is used (cypress, pine bark, eucalyptus, etc.). Contrary to popular belief, crushed stone or pea gravel are comparable to wood mulch in terms of attraction, since they also retain moisture in the underlying soil. Where mulch is used, it should be applied sparingly (2-3 inches is usually adequate), and should never be allowed to contact wood siding or framing of doors or windows. To further hedge your bet, rake through the mulch every few months to help moisture evaporate. The act of raking the mulch material will also help discourage insect pests.

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