Lilies forum: Cedar Chips as Summertime Mulch for Lilium--Is It OK?

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Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Mar 16, 2012 12:24 PM CST
For years I've used clean wood chips I get from a local tree service--a good mix of everything but pine and cedar which I avoided. Now, he informed me he'd be getting into some cedar work soon and asked if I wanted the chips. Does anyone have any experience using cedar mulch with lilies? What about pH--any affect?
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Mar 16, 2012 7:39 PM CST
Is it Eastern Red cedar (our native juniper) or White cedar (our native arborvitae)? We don't have any true cedars in the Midwest.
Actually, I wouldn't know of any detriment from either, but since you asked...

Why do you avoid pine and cedar?
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Mar 17, 2012 6:39 AM CST
Oh, I avoided them because what I get has worked very well for me (cottonwood, ash and oak). With pine and cedar, its the fear of the 'unknown'. With pine I worry about the organic solvent aspect. The various terpenes and their possible chemical bonding to micro nutrients making them unavailable for uptake?. Also, would they form chemical blockers within the lilium feeder roots? And what about microbial activity--how will that be affected? I avoided cedar because the leafs are alkaline and they can't be avoided with chipping. When I got a mixed load of cottonwood, ash, oak with cedar mixed in with it, it seemed the entire load took nearly twice as long to partially decompose when left in a pile suggesting it might have a negative affect on microbial activity. Rick, he says its white cedar.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Mar 17, 2012 7:21 PM CST
All that you say, Lorn, could very well be true. I just don't know. There certainly are a lot of terpenes and other resins in conifers. I never looked at it all from the point of possible negative impact on soil microbes, et al; only that those resins and lignins would be more resistant to breakdown. Most people want there mulch to last as long as possible. Good for you that you don't!

What an interesting topic this is coming to be. I am going to post a similar question on a private list I belong to, where a professor emeritus frequents and would know the ins and outs, I think. Will post back here with the answers.

Name: Michael Norberry
Arcata, CA Zone 9 or 17 suns (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: California Seed Starter Ponds
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mnorberry
Mar 17, 2012 8:00 PM CST
I have been putting Redwood sawdust in my yard for years. I worked in the lumber industry for over 40 years.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Mar 19, 2012 9:18 PM CST
One would think redwood would be "worse" than cedar, since it is far more resistant to breakdown. Our house that Dad built in Minneapolis in 1949 has untreated redwood siding. After 60 plus years, it still looks good.
Name: Michael Norberry
Arcata, CA Zone 9 or 17 suns (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: California Seed Starter Ponds
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mnorberry
Mar 20, 2012 1:52 PM CST
Been using it for years. The mill that I managed produced redwood compost. True we added things to the mix. Can't remember after all those by gone years what we added. I have used it straight from the hogger.
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Mar 20, 2012 8:46 PM CST
Mike--it must decompose very slowly then, correct? Its probably the best insulator around for keeping the ground cool and moisture in. I think with mulch and compost it all boils down to what best suits a persons needs that they've learned from experience. In my situation, I depend on a summer wood chip mulch to keep roots cool and moisture in. But since I transplant, rotate and cull a lot, I need that mulch to pretty much decompose by the second and third year with slow release nitrogen in the later stages of decomposition--just in time for the next replant, etc, etc. I'm still interested in Cedar mulch for some of my more permanent lily residents in chip form only--no green. But pine is 'on hold' for now until Rick or myself can get to the bottom of the chemistry factor.

In the 'old days' in the late 1800s-1930s, sawdust was used to keep ice from melting. Ice was sawed into blocks from the town lake in winter, then covered with piles of sawdust from the nearby sawmill. My Grandfather worked at both and they were able to keep ice until the 4th of july for their kitchen wooden ice boxes back then.

Name: Michael Norberry
Arcata, CA Zone 9 or 17 suns (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: California Seed Starter Ponds
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mnorberry
Mar 21, 2012 2:40 PM CST
Recent years, I have only mixed it into soil for my containers. It really don't get real real cold here, some frost by a lot of fog in the morning, I do not mulch. The last few years I have been able to start Orientals by planting the seeds in June-July and leaving outside during the winter. Average germination.
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
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Trish
Mar 21, 2012 6:58 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

It is my understanding that Cedar has a natural anti-germination element to it. Of course, this could be good (no weed seeds germinate), or bad (neither will your in setu sowing), depending on how you garden.

We use cedar sawdust in a line around the perimeter of our house to deter insects (which is another one of it's natural benefits).

None of this answers your question about the lily bulbs though, sorry!
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Connie
Willamette Valley OR (Zone 8a)
Forum moderator Hybridizer Region: Pacific Northwest Lilies Sempervivums Sedums
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pardalinum
Mar 21, 2012 8:00 PM CST

Moderator

I have used shredded cedar bark from Home Depot without any problems. Now it looks like I will be using pine needles, seeing as this snowstorm took down my mugo pine tree today:


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Name: Michael Norberry
Arcata, CA Zone 9 or 17 suns (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: California Seed Starter Ponds
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mnorberry
Mar 21, 2012 8:40 PM CST
Sorry to hear that....
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Mar 21, 2012 9:08 PM CST

Plants Admin

Sorry to hear about it too Connie. Looks like an old one too.
Evan
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Mar 21, 2012 9:33 PM CST
Trish--thanks! Your absolutely right about the insect repellant qualities and as a germination retardant for weed prevention. I had heard this some time ago and you're saying the same thing just reinforces my thoughts. Thats the good part of cedar. I'm going to try some this summer around some of my more permanent resident lilies. Glad you agree with my thinking!
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Mar 21, 2012 9:46 PM CST
Connie, this crazy goofed up weather! A nice day here for planting lily seeds but we'll have our hands full if we get a hard freeze. I'll have pics and info ready for your seeding thread in the morning--past my bed time.
Thumb of 2012-03-22/Roosterlorn/ab30c3
Name: Tracey
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator Hybridizer Tomato Heads Pollen collector Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Cat Lover
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magnolialover
Mar 27, 2012 7:59 AM CST

Moderator

Most lily growers pack in cedar to help halt lilies from sprouting.
Tracey

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