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Ericaceous soil

We have an area of garden where we want to plant acid loving plants - but our soil is mainly heavy clay and certainly the hydranegas wehave planted there seem to only live for one season.  Our local garden centre have just advised us to mix ericaceous compost with the existing soil but we wanted to create a proper planting area - once thew compost has broken down we will be back to square one/  Has anyone any ideas as to where we can get a couple of tons of soil from or what we should do?


  • I used to be fortunate to have acid soil where we lived previously in Essex and I could grow all the ericacous plants that I love. However, here in Lincolnshire I don't have acid soil but I still grow a lot of the plants I like but I put them in pots. I have three Pieris that have been in pots for five years. I renew a good third of the soil in early spring and feed with ericacous feed and they have really done so well. I think that you may be able to replace some of the soil in the ground but in the end I think it might be better to just go with the soil you have and put the plants you want to grow in pots otherwise you are always fighting with nature.
  • I agree with you, Patrevlil.    There is little point in trying to fight Mother Nature - she always wins in the end!    I also have very heavy clay soil, but grow hydrangeas, rhododendrons, acers, pieris and camellias all in pots of ericaceous compost.   A fortnightly watering with an ericaceous feed, from about March through to September, keeps them all in good health.

  • I think it would be a good idea to test your soil as clay soil is often by nature acidic, there may be another reason your plants haven't survived very long.

  • I agree with stephanie. It is important to test your soil to establish if it is suitable for acid loving plants. You can buy a pH testing kit for a few pounds from garden centres. If the results are over ph6 then you will struggle to keep acid loving plants healthy and need to resort to container growing. Be aware however that it might be poor drainage rather than the wrong pH. If that is the case a lot of well rotted manure and we are talking tonnes here if it is a reasonable sized area, rather than the odd barrowload, will be required. You could also add grit to the soil to help improve drainage. Try the pH test first though as it is a lot cheaper and involves a lot less initial work.

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