Why Rooibos is good for your garden

Much has been said about the multiple health benefits of Rooibos or ‘red bush’ tea, derived from the unique herbal shrub native to the Western Cape region of South Africa, but its benefits and uses stretch way beyond just human health and enjoyment.

As summer now draws to a close in South Africa we are especially keen to give our gardens a well needed boost after surviving an extremely hot February. Top of the list is Rooibos mulch. It is decorative, retains moisture and while inhibiting weed growth, it also stimulates plant growth. A by-product of Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis), which forms part of the Fynbos species, our Real Rooibos Mulch is excellent for any garden – used as a mulch or mixed with compost.

The SA Rooibos Council confirms the benefits of using Rooibos mulch in gardens. To ensure a bountiful bloom next spring, the experts suggest getting started in autumn already, which is considered the second most important gardening season. It’s vital that gardens are prepared and ready for the cold, winter months that lie ahead.

Extensive trials have been done in commercial nurseries, using Rooibos tea as a mulching agent. Below are just some of the observations:

  1. Rooibos mulch forms a crusty layer above the soil after a few watering’s. This layer reduces water loss through evaporation and is thus ideal for reducing stress on young transplants and contributes to considerable water saving in gardens and pot plants.
  2. 10% – 15% better growth was observed on young plants when using the rooibos mulch.
  3. The mulch is a natural organic product and will not harm the environment – it is attractive and will not be blown away by wind once watered thoroughly.
  4. Snails dislike the slightly sharp stalk edges – a good biological pest control.
  5. It reduces germination of weeds by forming an insulating layer above the soil, thus facilitating cleaner seedbeds and pot plants.
  6. The leachate, which is low in tannins, is beneficial to plant and root development. Rooibos tea has been used by gardeners since Grandma ́s days for maintaining healthy growth.
  7. Mixed with potting soil, it provides an excellent growing medium – light and well drained.

Well-known South African gardening gurus agree that Rooibos is a must for the garden. Margaret Roberts, a prominent figure in the world of natural health and gardening was a great advocate of using Rooibos tea bags with other vegetable and fruit peelings to make a balanced compost mix. Her herbal garden, once considered one of the country’s top 10 gardens, was committed to organic farming with Rooibos tea being among the critical compostable materials used. Rooibos tea also enriches the soil by increasing the nitrogen level.

Tanya Visser, gardening TV personality and editor of The Gardener-Die Tuinier magazine and associate editor on the Grow to Eat magazine, also prefer Rooibos mulch to bark mulch – it’s gentle on the hands (you don’t even need to wear gloves) and easier to control the flow as it pours beautifully. Another of SA’s favourite gardeners, JJ Van Rensburg adds that contrary to the belief that all tea makes the soil acidic, Rooibos doesn’t. The efficient microbes in the soil (the good bugs) actually thrive on Rooibos tea leaves.

You will have to drink a lot of Rooibos tea to make a difference to you garden teabag by teabag, so The Real Rooibos Mulch is the perfect answer. One enamoured client left a raving review on her gardening blog after having tested it against bark mulch, growth performance and wind erosion. It’s well worth a read.

In summary, Rooibos mulch is an excellent way to improve gardens, pot plants and lawns in an organically friendly way. For more information on the retail, packaging and availability of our Rooibos mulch, please see attached document and contact Marina at our Carmién sales department at tea@carmientea.co.za.