Roses and Gravel Mulch?

roses and gravel mulch

Cindy wrote in asking about using gravel as a mulch around rose plants:

“I was thinking of planting a line of knock out roses along the edge of the woods on my property. I wanted to line the bed with white gravel instead of mulch. Do you see any problem with this?”

Personally I wouldn’t use a gravel mulch around roses. The reason being is that they absorb heat and can get very hot in summer and adversely affect the the fine-haired feeder roots that sit close to the surface as well as make the area under and around the rose hotter, resulting in increased transpiration (water loss through the leaves).

The gravel doesn’t break down and put any nourishment back into the soil like an organic mulch can. I have read where some people in milder climates have used a gravel mulch under roses with no problem but I prefer to keep improving the soil under and around the roses with an organic mulch that breaks down and continually enriches the soil. Some good choices for organic mulches are lucerne, sugar cane mulch or hay.

Be careful with planting roses along the edge of woods. Roses don’t like to compete for water and nutrients from the tree’s large and aggressive root systems which seek out an easy water and nutrient supply. You may end up with tree roots invading your rose roots.

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