The Benefits of Winter Mulching in NE Florida

We all know mulch serves as a decorative landscape accent and weed block during the growing season. But did you know that mulch is also beneficial in the landscape to protect Florida plants from the freezing temperatures of Winter?

In addition to looking great the purpose of Winter Mulching is primarily to protect your plant’s root systems from exposure during freezing temperatures. Picking the proper mulch for your winter mulching needs and using appropriately is key to maintaining healthy plants in your Florida landscape.

The products we recommend for winter mulching:

Pine straw – a good lightweight mulch choice for flower and vegetable beds and around shrubs.
Pine Bark chips – Decomposes slowly and is available in chipped and shredded form. Avoid those made from pressure-treated wood.
Cypress mulch – Used year-round particularly as decorative border material in flowerbeds. Cypress mulch should be rotated out of beds every few years due to excessive compacting and fungus buildup.

You may also use raked up leaves from various trees as mulch material, which is a good alternative with composting value, returning nutrients into the soil.

When applying mulch around trees and shrubs leave a mulch-free zone of a few inches around the trunks. For winterizing mulch we recommend to use up to six inches of pine straw and 2-4 inches for the heavier, more compactable pine barks and cypress mulches.

Don’t Forget:
Many of our non-native plants such as tropicals require foliage to be protected from frost by using frost cloth or bringing potted plants indoors. Potted plants likewise require special attention as the soil in the pot can be at greater risk of freezing than if planted in the ground.

One More TIP:
Over mulching around deciduous plants (those that drop leaves seasonally) may concentrate too much warmth and trigger a break in their dormancy cycle stimulating new growth that becomes stressed with ongoing cold weather.

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