Licorice Root Mulch Characteristics

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Steamed and shredded licorice root is a great natural garden mulch.
Steamed and shredded licorice root is a great natural garden mulch. (Image: Mulch image by Stefan Richter from Fotolia.com)

Licorice root mulch is a by-product from the processing of a plant called Glycyrrhiza glabra, better known as the licorice plant. Companies steam the roots of the plant to extract a sugar compound, which they use to sweeten many baked goods and candy. The leftover shredded roots have become popular as a natural garden mulch.

Nutrient-Rich

Licorice root mulch contains 12 of the 13 essential plant nutrients and a particularly high nitrogen-to-carbon ratio at 25:1. Nitrogen is especially important for healthy plants, as it makes up part of the green pigment chlorophyll vital to the process of photosynthesis and acquiring energy for growth. The high nitrogen content of the mulch allows plenty of available nitrogen for the growth of shrubs, perennials and annuals.

Moisture Retention

The mulch is finely shredded, and when it settles, the root fibers interlock, forming a tight mat of mulch. This interlocking pattern helps prevent the mulch bits from blowing or washing away due to the weather, and keeps the maximum amount of moisture locked below the surface. The licorice mulch also holds onto moisture very well, particularly compared to traditional wood mulches.

Weed and Fungal Prevention

The matting effect of the licorice root mulch helps keep the growth of pesky weeds at bay, while allowing sunlight and water to pass through. This mulch also contains anti-fungal compounds that help fight artillery fungus, which is quite common in mulch beds. This artillery fungus produces dark mold spores which are attracted to light-colored objects, putting decks, patios and even cars at risk of unwanted discoloration.

Environmentally-Friendly

Since the roots are the by-product of an industry that manufactures products for human consumption, the mulch contains no harsh chemicals or additives. The weed and fungal prevention properties of the mulch eliminate the need for pesticides or other chemicals in the garden. It is also an environmentally-conscious product: a recycled by-product that helps to reduce commercial manufacturing waste.

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