What do volcano mulching, Smokey and Teddy have in common?
Growing Concerns Issue #563
For a lot more about the devastating effects of this very wrong, but very prevalent style of mulching trees, see What's Coming Up Issue #136.
If you take to task a volcano mulching culprit, keep in mind that a tree's problems may trace to other factors. Or a tree mulched that way for some time may be so far gone that it will NOT be saved if you level its volcano.
If you convince someone to remove the volcano from a tree and the tree continues to struggle, or it dies, your good work will be undone. The culprit will go back to his/her former ways, telling others of you, "Don't listen to that one!"
Volcano mulching eventually rots the bark on a tree, which then dies of butt rot, or snapping off at that weakened area. Butt rot may first show itself as general failure to thrive. Then one hot summer day the tree's foliage will collapse and that will be that.
If butt rot is already underway when you flatten a volcano, don't expect much of the tree.
Trees that are volcano mulched may be planted improperly, too. Planted too high or too deep, or with a cage, cords or burlap in place, a tree may waste away. Its own roots may have been curled 'round its trunk while in the pot, and proceed to girdle the trunk or other roots. As these problems continue, the tree in its weakened state may contract all kinds of maladies and attract all kinds of pest insects.
(More on gidling roots in What's Coming Up issue 49.)
What to do? Pull the mulch away and check the bark for proper color and adherence to the tree. Look for a flare --evidence the tree is planted at the right level. Look for wire cage, cord or burlap poking up in the root zone. Check for obvious girdling roots. Do what you can to correct those problems, too.
Just so you know!
What's Up 175: Spruce gall, prune redtwig, pest I.D., oak flare