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Weeds are a major problem in cutting propagation and compete with the main crop for water, sunlight, and nutrients, thus reducing growth and marketable quality of rooted cuttings. Due to the high labor cost of hand weeding, mulches can be an alternative method for weed control in the propagation environment. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of mulches (coarse vermiculite, rice hulls, paper pellets, and pine pellets) on rooting of stem cuttings and weed control when applied at 0.5- and 1-inch depths. Cuttings of three plant species [‘Nanho Blue’ butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), ‘Catawba’ crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), ‘Phantom’ hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)] were stuck in 2.5-inch-diameter containers filled with pine bark substrate and treated with mulch. In a separate study, seeds of four weed species [creeping woodsorrel (Oxalis corniculata), hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis), mulberry weed (Fatoua villosa)] were sown onto the mulch surface. Rooting percentage was unaffected by mulch type or depth for any of the three crop species (‘Nanho Blue’ butterfly bush, ‘Catawba’ crape myrtle, ‘Phantom’ hydrangea). Pine pellets did not affect root dry weight of any crop species, but root length and volume of ‘Catawba’ crape myrtle was reduced by pine pellets at 1-inch depth. Rice hulls slightly reduced the root length and volume of ‘Catawba’ crape myrtle, but the reduction was less than 50%. Pine pellets and paper pellets (both depths) reduced growth of all four weed species. Even though weed seeds germinated in pine and paper pellets, seedlings did not grow large enough to potentially affect crop rooting. In conclusion, pine pellets and paper pellets at 0.5-inch depth can be effective in suppressing weed populations with minimal effect on rooting.

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