Ask a Question forum: Rock mulch on MW Honeysuckle & Zebra Grass?

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Name: J.c. S.
Kansas (Zone 6b)
Sempervivums Sedums Lilies Garden Ideas: Level 2
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StaticAsh
Mar 10, 2014 1:10 AM CST
Hi all, just wondering if anyone has used rock mulch (appx 3/4"-1") on Major Wheeler Honeysuckle (Lonicera Sempervirens)or on Zebra Grass (Miscanthus Sinensis 'Zebrinus')? Does anyone know if it will it harm or impede their growth?

I have 3 raised beds of which the middle will be a rock garden with succulents. The two end beds will have the Zebra Grass and one Honeysuckle each and all 3 beds are connected by a long berm/planting which will have honeysuckle (and other things) and probably be mulched with cedar.

My thought is to use the two end beds as staging/propagation areas for succulents while the other things are getting established, but rock mulch is needed for them for best performance in my area.

Any help or advice would be very appreciated.
Thanks,
J.C.

[Last edited by StaticAsh - Mar 10, 2014 12:13 PM (+)]
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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Mar 10, 2014 4:10 AM CST
I have used grasses in a dry stream bed of rock/gravel. It can be very attractive. I've not done it with honeysuckle but someone else may be able to speak to that.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: J.c. S.
Kansas (Zone 6b)
Sempervivums Sedums Lilies Garden Ideas: Level 2
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StaticAsh
Mar 10, 2014 11:32 AM CST
Thanks Tee!
Anyone know if rock mulch will impede or harm the growth of honeysuckle in any way? (Or do anything else negative to it?)
Should I just put wood mulch around the honeysuckle even if I mulch the rest of the bed with rock?
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 10, 2014 12:03 PM CST
Just my opinion, with experience here in Fl and also on clay soil in Utah. Rock mulch is never a good idea, unless you don't want to grow anything at all in the bed. Everything it does is negative, except look nice - for a while.The purpose of mulch is to keep the soil surface cooler, help retain moisture, help deter weeds and minimize erosion from heavy rain. Rocks actually heat up the soil if they are in the sun, retain the heat, and also vent the moisture from underneath because of the air spaces between them.

Just like a wood chip mulch, you still have to keep adding to rock mulch because unless you use your leaf blower on it religiously, leaves and other debris will sift down in between and weeds will grow in it. In the long run, the rock will sink into the soil unless you use landscape cloth under it, and even then the cloth eventually breaks down. Why would you add rocks to a flower bed? The rock never breaks down to enrich your soil like a wood chip mulch will.

I have two gravel driveways and a gravel pathway that goes around half the house. All have/had landscape cloth under the gravel. Where the driveways are in the sun, even with no irrigation at all they are a mass of weeds through summer (when it rains here) unless I spray weed killer regularly. This year I'm going to try spreading clear plastic over the front driveway to see if I can burn away the weeds instead of using chemical warfare. The gravel pathway is ok where it's in the shade, but still needs to be weeded.

My advice is don't use any rock mulch whatsoever.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Mar 10, 2014 3:19 PM CST
I've not had that problem. But that was in CA with excellent drainage and lower rainfall and not in FL where it might tend to rain almost every day during times of the year. Here is a good thread we had in the Cactus and Succulent forum. Some lovely pictures there. You might be interested.

The thread "My front yard project." in Cactus and Tender Succulents forum
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: J.c. S.
Kansas (Zone 6b)
Sempervivums Sedums Lilies Garden Ideas: Level 2
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StaticAsh
Mar 10, 2014 5:07 PM CST
Thanks Elaine, but it appears we have had vastly different results with rock mulch. I've had great success using it and prefer it to organic mulch for a myriad of reasons.
I will be using rock mulch in many areas. However, I am new to growing honeysuckle and Zebra Grass, so I am asking if honeysuckle or Zebra Grass specifically are affected negatively by rock mulch.

Thanks Tee, I’ll check it out.


Anyone knowledgeable about honeysuckle?

Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 10, 2014 9:37 PM CST
Why not conduct an experiment? Plant two clumps of Zebra grass side by side, mulch one with about 3in. depth of wood chips, and another clump with rock mulch. Water and fertilize the same and see which does better. You could do the same with the honeysuckle if you've got room for two plants.

You know which clump my money's on! I think most plants are affected negatively by rock mulch, except - I admit - maybe desert plants like cactus and succulents. I've never grown them.

Oh, I forgot there IS one good place for rock mulch. Down here people use it along under the eaves of their houses to keep that area dry and weed free. It helps to deter subterranean termites.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Mar 11, 2014 1:40 PM CST
Don't know if this article is of any use, but it does talk about rock gardens in Kansas and your honeysuckle is one of the plants mentioned, although to me it's not clear if it's being recommended as a plant for them.
http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/c468.pdf
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Mar 11, 2014 5:37 PM CST

Plants Admin

There isn't much you could do that would harm Miscanthus, it's a borderline invasive weed in this part of the world. Smiling

I have Lonicera flava growing out of a rock mulched area around my mailbox and it seems perfectly happy there. The two species grow in similar types of places in the wild so I'd would expect Lonicera sempervirens will not be bothered by rock mulch either.
Name: J.c. S.
Kansas (Zone 6b)
Sempervivums Sedums Lilies Garden Ideas: Level 2
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StaticAsh
Mar 11, 2014 11:04 PM CST
Thanks for the link Woofie, I'll check it out.

Thanks a ton for the info Kent! I shall carry on with my plans then. Hurray!

Elaine, thanks to Kent I shall do basically the experiment you mentioned. It won't be perfectly clinical since plants won't be exactly side by side, but 2 honeysuckle will be mulched with rock and 8 will be mulched with wood chips.

And yeah termites (which are totally rampant in this state) are just one of many reasons why I like rocks.
But again, I mainly grow succulents and the like. Sticking tongue out
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Mar 12, 2014 7:55 AM CST
I will be interested in the results of your experiment, J.C. Thumbs up

Your plants will be staked/trellised?
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 12, 2014 1:27 PM CST
Me too! Please post a picture in the summer so we can see what happens?

As long as all the plants are getting roughly equal water, fert and sun, it will be a good test.

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
[Last edited by dyzzypyxxy - Mar 12, 2014 1:37 PM (+)]
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Mar 12, 2014 2:28 PM CST
I have a fondness for rocks as well, so I too hope you'll post some pics!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: J.c. S.
Kansas (Zone 6b)
Sempervivums Sedums Lilies Garden Ideas: Level 2
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StaticAsh
Mar 12, 2014 3:11 PM CST
Thanks again for all the help everyone. I tip my hat to you.
Tee, the honeysuckle will be trained to grow on a 70' long, 4'2" tall chain link fence.

I will be sure to post results and pictures in 3-4 months.
J.C.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Mar 12, 2014 3:25 PM CST
Sounds good, J.C. Smiling
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller

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