When to mulch - Knowledgebase Question

Bradford, Pe
Question by bhurley7
October 15, 2009
I've planted all my bulbs and several types of perennial plants. I covered with 3-4 inches of compost. Then I read that I should wait until the first frost to mulch because the aim is to keep the frost from thawing to prevent the heaving up of effect. I'm new at this and confused. I guess the leaves will die off on the plants but do you cover the entire plant with mulch or leave it exposed to sun?

Answer from NGA
October 15, 2009


What you've done with the mulch is just fine. Many gardeners keep a 3-4 inch layer of mulch in their flower beds and around their shrubs all year around. Mulch helps suppress weeds, slow water evaporation and moderate soil temperatures during the summertime and will help protect the soil from heaving during the freeze/thaw cycle in the wintertime. Mulching after planting is just fine. You can mulch around your other plants now or you can wait until frost arrives and spread your mulch then. Some perennials are herbaceous, meaning the tops are soft and will die down after the first hard frost, and others are woody, meaning the leaves will drop but the stems will remain all winter long. If yours are herbaceous you can cut the dead stems and leaves off at soil level after the first hard frost, and mulch right over the tops or the crowns of the plants. If your plants are woody perennials, the leaves will drop but the stems will remain. Just rake away the fallen leaves and spread mulch around the soil beneath the plants. Hope this clarifies things for you.

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