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Acidic soils

As Monty used farmyard manure for acid n plants, were pine needles essential as my azaleas and blueberries nearly died with well rotted manure?
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  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,500
    The main thing manure provides is nutrition and texture, not acidity.   If you're growing your acid lovers in soil or compost which contains calcium or watering with tap water that is alkaline no amount of the best kind of manure will help. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 5,035
    I don't grow azaleas but I do grow blueberries and they need very acidic soil.
    Your best bet is to buy ericaceous compost and replant both in that having removed as much of the existing compost as you can.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Thanks Pete. Have done that this summer and seen improvement but was wondering what actual fertiliser to use as they are in small deep beds mainly of bagged compost. Any suggestions welcome!  She 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 28,318
    Azaleas don't like alkaline soil, they'll grow perfectly well in neutral soil [not necessarliy acidic] so it's more than likely that's the problem. Blueberries require a more acidic medium.
    The manure wouldn't cause any issues unless it's not well rotted. It provides good nutrition and helps with the general structure of the soil.
    If you can't provide that in the ground, it would be better to grow in containers or raised beds where you can provide a suitable soil for them. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Ps  Ian on west coast of Scotland with access to seaweed,leaf mould and alpaca dung. But they don’t seem suited 
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,783
    I wouldn't use manure on acid lovers. It can contain ammonia compounds which reduce acidity. I mulch my azaleas and blueberries - which I grow in open ground, having acidic soil - with composted bark. It takes longer to improve the clay than manure but it does work in time

    You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
    Know when to walk away and know when to run
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,783
    edited November 2019
    If you specifically want fertiliser as opposed to soil improver I would use a liquid fertiliser for acid lovers. Most GCs se'll them. Neither of them needs very rich conditions though. You'll see lots of advice about feeding them because most people grow them in pots. Just feed your blueberries as they begin to set fruit in the spring. I grow comfrey for the purpose
    You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
    Know when to walk away and know when to run
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 5,035
    Hi Sheila
    I use Miracle Grow for Azaleas for my blueberries, which will of course also suit your azaleas - and I use rainwater.
    Unless the soil in your area is very acidic, then your best off growing them in pots.
    If you grow them in a pocket of ericaceous compost in your garden and the soil is alkaline, the surrounding soil will 'buffer' the acidic compost and turn it alkaline which will not suit them which is why a lot of people grow them in pots - as I do.
    As Obelixx says above - use rainwater too (unless your tap water is very soft).
    Hard tap water will soon turn ericaceous compost alkaline (known as buffering - which sort-of just means 'changing')
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 28,318
    It would have helped if you'd said where you are @sheila.footloose :)

    Leaf mould is ideal for azaleas, as is the bark that @raisingirl mentions, and a layer of either is perfect as a mulch. There's certainly no problem with the rainwater. ;)

    Are you sure they have enough drainage? They like damp conditions, but  not being waterlogged. How damaged are the plants?
    A photo would help.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Rik56Rik56 WiganPosts: 312
    Carry out a pH test of your soil.
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