When you think of chocolate and roses, Valentine’s Day may come to mind, but did you know there is mulch that smells like chocolate? Cocoa hull mulch or cocoa shell mulch is simply the shell of the roasted cocoa bean. This economical, organic, and dark colored mulch is readily available at many nurseries in the area or online and boasts a divine smell as well as other benefits to your garden. Some benefits to this aromatic mulch is it improves the soil since it has a pH of 5.8 and puts nitrogen back into the soil, whereas rapidly decaying organic mulches reduce nitrogen level. It also helps retains moisture and cocoa hull mulch helps prevents weeds as it interlocks together when wet creating a nice barrier. In addition, it helps repel slugs, snails, termites, and some bugs.Another benefit is cocoa shell mulch gets darker as it ages not lighter like most mulches.
A word of caution though if you have small children or pets, cocoa shell mulch can cause physical illness or death if consumed in large quantities, but most animals would not be attracted to it in the first place. Nevertheless, something to consider. Another factor to be aware of when considering this mulch is a harmless mold can grow on it if over-watered or when in very humid conditions with not much air circulation. A simple solution of vinegar mixed with some water will resolve this issue though.
Personally, because of it’s smell, textures, natural resource, and benefits to my roses, I am a big fan of cocoa hull mulch! It seems everyday is Valentine’s in my garden!