Cedar needles: OK as mulch or not?

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by justalittlegardenobsessed, May 19, 2007.

  1. justalittlegardenobsessed

    justalittlegardenobsessed Active Member

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    There seems to be a lot of disagreement about whether cedar needles are a good mulch. Lots of people, including some on these forums, recommend it, but others, including this BC composting fact sheet say "Cedar leaves are known to prevent the germination and growth of plants around them. And although much of this inability of plants to grow under cedar comes from the lack of light available under these massive trees, cedar leaves should not be used as mulch."

    I've also read in a Pacific Northwest gardening guru book that using cedar needles as a mulch prevents water from getting through.

    I have blueberry bushes that need more acid, and lots of cedar needles, so I'd love to use them as a mulch if they aren't bad for my plants!

    Anyone have definitive information on this that can help bust me out of my indecisive bottleneck?

    Thanks kindly, D.
     
  2. GildedLily

    GildedLily Member

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    My opinion is that on your blueberries, yes, go ahead, because they like the acid and they don't mind the phenols from decomposing wood. I say this because I have seen a variety of vacciniums growing happily under cedar trees so I can't see that it would be a problem. Ericaceous plants may be the exception, however, as the only plants that seem to be okay with this kind of seasonal mulch are rhodos, vacciniums, heathers and others in the family. I'd use caution with anything else. Mulching anything that does not enjoy an acid soil with needles is a bad idea. I'd mix in a bag of earthworm dirt with the needles to make a really fantastic mulch for your berries. Incidentally, strawberries love a nice needle mulch, and they don't mind my cedars in the least.
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I suspect that fact sheet is referring to thujas, not cedars (an all-too-common naming error).

    BTW, it doesn't look a very well-researched sheet, they've also got the cubic metre-cubic feet conversion figure horribly wrong . . . "make sure your compost pile is at least one cubic metre (3 cubic feet)" . . . it should be "one cubic metre (35 cubic feet)" ;-)
     
  4. justalittlegardenobsessed

    justalittlegardenobsessed Active Member

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    Is earthworm dirt particularly good for blueberries some reason (ie is it acidic or something?) or is it just a favourite of yours?

    And in terms of the thuja/cedar issue -- I think what I have is thujas, if that's the proper term.

    Thanks kindly for the feedback. As a nervous newbie who's just shelled out an enormous amount for plants/soil/etc. I don't want to do anything that undermines all my efforts!
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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  6. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Standardized Plant Names, ed.2, p.95. American Joint Committee on Horticultural Nomenclature; eds. Harlan P. Kelsey and William A. Dayton (1942).
     
  7. justalittlegardenobsessed

    justalittlegardenobsessed Active Member

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    Thanks very much Ron, for the link to the wood chip info ... that kind of feedback is why I find these forums so fabulous. If "Linda Chalker-Scott, Associate Professor and Extension Horticulturist" swears by cedar wood chips and even has the data to back it up, I think I can mulch away. Cheers to all, Dorothy
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    The general public knows nothing about Standardized Common Plant Names and will never use them. That is a part of factual reality, which is what I prefer to work with.
     
  9. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    That's all we HAVE to work with. Love the term!
     

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