Sugar cane mulch has lots of benefits for citrus as it will control weeds, reduce the water lost from the soil through evaporation and improve the soil over time. Sugar cane mulch will be broken down by soil bacteria releasing nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus making them available to your citrus.
Benefits of sugar cane mulch for citrus
Sugar cane mulch works to protect your citrus roots through extreme weather conditions including extreme heat and cold. Sugar cane will prevent the soil from dropping quickly down in temperature on cold nights and can protect the small roots near the surface from frost.
A layer of sugar cane mulch will also protect your citrus over the hot, summer months. The mulch will shade and protect the soil while reducing the amount of water lost from the soil through evaporation.
Citrus trees hate competition from weeds and a layer of sugar cane mulch will stop weeds growing through. Sugar cane mulch laid 2 inches thick will stop the light reaching weed seeds under the soil and stop them from growing.
Keeping weeds away from the root zone of citrus will help to prevent them from stealing nutrients from your citrus that have mots of their feeder roots close to the surface of the soil.
Saves on water
Having a good layer of sugar cane mulch around citrus will help you to reduce the amount of water needed. Sugar cane mulch will help to stop water from being lost from the soil keeping a more consistent soil moisture level and will mean you need to water less.
Anything that can save on the amount of water you need to use will save on watering costs while keeping your citrus happy. Citrus trees like consistent water levels so keep them moist for longer with sugar cane mulch.
Why sugar cane mulch is good for citrus trees
Sugar cane mulch is great for citrus trees as it improves soil, adds nutrients over time and feeds the soil bacteria and worms which will release the nutrients to your citrus.
Sugar cane mulch is also great for citrus trees as it is a low cost, affordable option to cover large areas. One compacted bag of sugar cane mulch will cover the area under a medium sized lemon, orange or lime tree.
Sugar cane will need to be topped up every 3-6 months to keep a coverage that is thick enough to prevent weeds but still allow rain to get through to the soil.
Problems with sugar cane mulch
Problems can occur with sugar cane mulch if it is applied too thick underneath citrus trees. If you lay sugar cane mulch thicker than 3 inches, it is likely to grow mold as it will absorb lots of water and take longer to dry out.
I have grown mold on my sugar can mulch in very shady areas. This was quickly solved by raking it thinner and mixing it with other mulch types like bark mulch. This adds extra air and will allow water to drain through easier.
Sugar cane mulch pros and cons for citrus
Here are the top pros and cons of sugar cane mulch for citrus.
|Prevents weeds||Replaced more often than bark mulch|
|Affordable||Can be shipped long distances so has a larger carbon footprint|
|Improves the soil||Can blow away in strong winds|
|Builds soil bacteria populations||Can be packed in plastic so creates waste|
|Attracts worms||Can grow mold if it is laid to thick|
|Adds organic matter to the soil||The whole bag can go bad if it gets wet|
Eco benefits of sugar cane mulch
Sugar cane mulch is made from the waste products from the sugar industry so using this product is a great way to recycle this waste. Choosing a local product is the best way to reduce the carbon footprint of your mulch choice and avoid any mulches that have been shipped a far distance.
Sugar cane mulch for citrus trees in pots
Sugar cane mulch can be used for the top of citrus trees in pots. It is an easy mulch to apply that will help to hold water in the soi in your pot. Pots dry out much quicker than citrus planted in soil so sugar cane mulch is an essential ingredient.
Nutrients in sugar cane mulch
The sugar cane mulch includes nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium. This study published in the International Journal of Basic & Applied Science Research showed that sugar cane mulch has a pH of 7.75 which is slightly alkaline, a moisture content of 26.44% and a water holding capacity of 93.4%1.
The nutrients in sugar cane mulch include available phosphorus of 4.86%, nitrogen of 1.54% and potassium of 0.84%1.
Check out the table below to see what makes up sugar cane mulch1.
|Component of Sugar Cane Mulch||Measure|
|Water holding capacity||93.4%|
Sugar cane mulch – FAQ
Sugar cane mulch is not acidic and has a pH of around 7.751. Sugar cane mulch will add more nutrients and organic matter to your soil and will add more benefits including increasing soil water holding capacity and preventing weeds.
Sugar cane mulch is known as an organic mulch as it is made from a natural material that will break down. Whether the sugar cane itself was grown organically can usually be found on the sugar cane mulch packaging. Check the packet and see if your sugar cane mulch was grown organically and it will normally be more expensive than those grown non-organically. Both will be great for your citrus.
Sugar cane mulch is one of my favorite mulches as it is low cost, easy to transport, light and improves my soil over time. It smells delicious and is great food for worms. I love sugar cane mulch and it makes great bedding for my worms.
Worms love sugar cane mulch and will eat both the mulch and the bacteria that are digesting the mulch. Worms will be attracted to the sugar cane naturally in your garden beds and it can also be used as bedding in your worm farm.
Sugar cane mulch for citrus – Summary
Sugar cane mulch is a fantastic mulch for citrus and one of my favorite mulches that make the best use of waste form the sugar industry. Sugar cane mulch is also really easy to carry if you live in a small townhouse or apartment. Compacted bags will fit up stairwells and is easy to store. Give it a go for your citrus and you will be pleased.
Negi Neelam, et al., 2015; A study on physico – chemical and microbiological properties of sugarcane mulch. IJBASR; 2(1); 132-141. Accessed 17th July 2021, https://web.archive.org/web/20180421203225id_/http://www.ijbasr.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/21.pdf.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.