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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - March 17, 2010

From: Hitchcock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Propagation, Seeds and Seeding
Title: Time to mulch without inhibiting seeds in Hitchcock, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

When would be the best time of year to put down mulch, if I want my native plants to re-seed? I don't want to bury the seed under mulch layers or new dirt. Thank you.

ANSWER:

In Galveston County, which is USDA Hardiness Zone 9, you do not have the need for mulch in the Winter to protect from cold that other sections of the country do. Since most seeds in this part of the country are planted or self-sown by the plants themselves in the Fall, that is the time of year you do NOT want to put down fresh mulch. Mulching in the Summer, by which time the seedlings should all be tall enough to be recognized, will protect from the heat and help to hold moisture in the soil. That mulch will then decompose, further enriching the soil, and making it more welcoming for the next year's seed crops. You are correct in assuming that a tiny seedling is going to find it difficult or impossible to work itself up through a layer of mulch. For more than you really want to know about mulch, see this About.com: Landscaping website on Garden Mulch 101 - Selecting the Proper Garden Mulch.

 

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