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Aceeeed or alkali , meters and things - moving an acer from a pot

Mornin' All,
Multiple questions - sorry.
Just been up the local garden centre to get some compost as I was going to move 1) an acer from a pot to the ground 2) an acer from one location to another. Talking to the lovely lass up there she asked what soil I had - and I said I'm from around here, so clay and she then asked what PH as the acers prefer slightly acidic (and we're on the edge of the chalk South Downs - so alkaline). I have no idea.
If I test the soil is there a simple way and do the electronic testers (like this - not advertising! - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Moisture-Temperature-Sunlight-Intensity-Instrument/dp/B07CFWM5W3/ref=sr_1_22?dchild=1&keywords=soil+ph+meter&qid=1600687865&s=outdoors&sr=1-22) work ok?
Can I acidify the soil in any way that will work?

I'm now a bit concerned that by moving the acer from the pot I may do more damage to it than leaving it where it is (and my wife planted it, so I'm loathe to do it any damage). The 'other' acer I was going to move (and still will) is growing in the clay anyway (although at the front of the house rather than about 30metres away at the back) and I planted that in the wrong place anyway - so I'm not as bothered about that one.

UK - South Coast Retirement Campus (East)
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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,116
    Hi @steveTu - neutral to acid is what they need. If your soil is nearer alkaline than acid, it's probably not worth risking it. A bigger pot or a purpose built raised bed of some kind would be better. 
    You can't really alter the soil pH in a bed or border. 

    I think the testers are generally quite decent, although I don't know exactly how accurate they are. I've never used one.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 7,480
    You can get a general idea of your soil conditions from this DEFRA supported site
    http://www.landis.org.uk/soilscapes/

    Which may give you an indication of how alkaline the soil is in your postcode.

    Sulphur chips can be used to acidify soil if needed
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • steveTusteveTu Posts: 1,386
    Brilliant - thanks - the map shows the clay at the base of the Downs as being loamy and slightly acidic.


    Thank you. I'm not sure about another pot as it's already in the largest 'trug' type wooden planter that I have and I don't have space for a raised bed or anything like that more the pity.


    I'm concerned that I don't have a proper site for it either, as even the north facing back garden gets the sun from midday on. The acer that I planted seems ok in a south facing bed anyway - so that confuses me no end.
    UK - South Coast Retirement Campus (East)
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 7,480
    I've got an acer palmatum dissectum in my north facing front garden which is in full sun between around March and October - it's been very happy there for the last 30 years


    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Ferdinand2000Ferdinand2000 Posts: 521
    edited September 2020
    If you want to help it stay slightly acidic you could do the conifer mulch fandango.

    When I trim my vigorous-ish conifer I shred some trimming and put them in a couple of big bags with a sprinkling if water, seal up, are some fork holes and put it behind the shed.

    Then in a year or two I will have a mulch suitable for moderate acid lovers.

    In my case it is to be ready for the time my blueberries bought this year are beginning to fruit properly.

    F

    “Rivers know this ... we will get there in the end.”
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,064
    The conifer mulch to lower pH is another one of those garden myths. It is still a good thing to do as it adds organic matter but it has next to no effect on soil pH.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,116
    The purples benefit from sun - afternoon/evening is always kinder than morning/midday, but if they're happy in their site  ie soil etc, they will be fine, and colour up better. Once established, they cope extremely well with sun. 
    I became embroiled in a debate on another thread about it because I said that, and people disputed it.
    I'm surrounded by countless purple Acers in south facing, sunny sites here  ;)

    @steephill is correct re the conifer/pine needle etc myth. You can't radically alter the pH of soil in a border with that. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • edhelkaedhelka GwyneddPosts: 1,972
    edited September 2020
    Cheap (like the one in the link) electronic meters don't work, more expensive (£100+) are good but not worth the cost. Chemical tests work quite well and are cheap.
    Sulphur acidifies soil but needs to be applied regularly and it can be difficult to maintain stable growing conditions.
  • steveTusteveTu Posts: 1,386
    This is the 'potted' one.
    This was taken in spring and it's fine, but as the temperatures rise, the leaves really suffer - browning and curling - even though (I think) I'm giving it enough water.
    The only place I have to move it to is at the far end of that photo - the whole area is to the north of the house. One of the acers out front (south facing) took to the soil no problem and is thriving - the other two have had issues again with water I think as they have had problems getting going. But they're all in the wrong place and need to be moved anyway.
    How I get it out of the pot without hurting it is the next challenge.


    Thanks - unless I have a pocket of different soil, it seems that the whole area at the base of the Downs has slightly acidic soil - so I think I'll forego the tester anyway.


    Thank you all.
    UK - South Coast Retirement Campus (East)
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,116
    A glazed pot would be better. The wood will soak up half the water you give it.  :)

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


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