Mulch for roses should provide enough surface insulation to protect the roots and organic matter to help nourish the plant, and be thick enough to discourage the growth of weeds. Several mulching materials meet this criteria, including compost, bark mulch and peat moss.
Proper mulching is an important part of successfully growing roses in the garden. Mulches high in organic materials, including leaf mold, peat moss, compost, bark chips and well-rotted manure, are recommended in areas where soils are poor. Compost, manure and leaf mold can also be worked into the soil prior to planting roses to increase organic nutrient levels.
Those with large rose gardens may find it cost effective to purchase mulching materials in bulk from home and garden retailers. Gardeners who create compost at home using food scraps and garden waste should take care not to include clippings or leaves that have been treated with pesticides or herbicides, and to keep their compost bins free of meat products. Seeds should also not be included among compost materials, as they may sprout later on.
Mulches high in organic nutrients, such as unfinished compost, tobacco stems or aged sawdust, are recommended during the summer months to provide roses with the nutrients they need to flourish fully. An 8-inch layer of mulch consisting of peat moss, finished compost or loose garden soil should be applied in autumn to protect plant roots from being damaged by winter temperatures.