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Acid loving plants in neutral soil

Is it possible to grow acid loving plants like Rhododendrons in neutral soil? What do I need to do regarding soil prep, planting and ongoing maintenance?

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  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,562
    You can add ericaceous compost to the soil to make it a bit more acid and you acn use fertilisers for ericaceous plants every spring, water only with rainwater unless your tap water is soft and give occasional foliar feeds of Epsom salts which help with magnesium levels.  Dilute 15ml of salts in 5litres of rain water and spray on the leaves.  Mulching with chipped bark will help too.


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  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,538
    Yes and no. Some 'ericaceous' plants won't tolerate any lime - so as Obs says, water with rain water, mulch with lime free mulch such as chipped bark - but they don't actually need acidic soil. This is true of quite a lot of rhodos, acers, even camelias. But there are some that do need acid soil - azaleas and blueberries for example. You need to grow them in a pot really.

    Having said that, in the UK, where it rains a lot (rainwater being quite strongly acidic), any soil which doesn't have lime in it will almost certainly be acidic to some degree unless lime has been added at some point (most often in the form of manure) so you're taking a risk planting a lime hater in it.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • I have read about using vinegar for this,especially if you only have one or two acid lovers. Worth googling as there's lots of information on use of vinegar in the garden.
    The whole truth is an instrument that can only be played by an expert.
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,964
    Cagzo
    Interesting ! I have a cactus collection ; they need an acidic growing medium and I used to use 20ml of vinegar to a 5 litre watering can ! Worked perfectly !!
    Eventually decided to divert the downpipe from the house roof into a 'three-tiered waterbutt system' (actually 3 dustbins connected by pipes) but the former sounds better (!)
    A good and economical way to acidify hard water !
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,964
    On a neutral soil I have grown various ericaceous plants over the years ; regular applications of Sequestene help enormously .
  • YviestevieYviestevie Kingswinford, West MidlandsPosts: 6,662
    Grow lots of acid lovers inc azaleas on neutral soil here. I avoid tap water unless absolutely necessary and feed occasionally with an erricatious feed. 
    Hi from Kingswinford in the West Midlands
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 7,726
    same here Yviestevie, some small rhodos I put in 18 months ago, I dug the hole twice the size of the rootball and added ericaceous compost, they are doing fine.
  • autumngloryautumnglory Posts: 255
    I didn't know manure was alkali! This might explain why my skimmia is so unhappy. 
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