Using Pine Straw as Mulch
I live in Zone 8 (South Arkansas) and have access to lots of pine needles that drop from trees in my yard. Last fall, I put pine straw around all my roses and other shrubs in my yard. My roses leafed out beautifully this spring but are beginning to show yellow leaves here and there. Also, the pine straw shows molding in some places. I have been told that I should pull the pine straw back from my plants in the spring. What is the rule of thumb on using/removing pine straw from roses/shrubs?
Thanks for any information.
Ashley County Arkansas
If you have any perennials that come back up in the spring, or annuals that have reseeded, then yes, pull back the pine needles. Pine needles are very good at suppressing growth of weeds, including annuals and perennials. Around the shrubs and trees, you can leave the pine needles all year long.
As far as the rose goes, yellow leaves can be a sign of underwatering or overwatering. My guess is it's staying to wet around the base of the plant, which would be why some mold has grown on the pine needles. This can happen with any organic mulch you use, so you just need to till the needles (or whatever organic mulch has this problem) to get some air moving through it. So, the only connection between the mold on the needles and the yellow leaves is probably that there is too much moisture. Roses are very drought tolerant and don't need much water once established, so that's my guess at this point.