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I was looking at some plants and instruction said must be planted in acid soil being fairly new to gardening ( now retired) I really don't know can anyone guide me please.

Is there such a thing as a plant guide or dictionary to help to know what plants should be placed in the best areas of the garden or pots.


  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114

    Ask in your local garden centre.  Buy a soil testing kit.  Look at the plants in neighbouring gardens.  Rhodendrons like acid soil.  Ask your neighbours. Are there lumps of chalk in your soil?  Where do you live?  Does your kettle fur up?  Alkali soil probably.

    Unless they are extreme acid or lime haters most plants will do well in most soils.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,638

    You can buy soil tester kits from a garden centre.   Follow the instructions and make sure you use distilled water, not tap.  

    You can look up plants online to find out their cultivation needs - soil PH, shade, sun, moisture, exposure and hardiness.   The RHS also publishes a huge book of garden plants which you could probably consult at your local library before deciding to buy.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Unfortunately where I live there are lawns but very few plants.

    Ilive in central Scotland very soft water no sign of chalk.

  • Thankyou obelixx very helpfull.

  • bigolobbigolob Posts: 127

    To give you an idea of plants for different soil conditions here are a few to help you. If as Welshonion says you see Rhododendrons in neighbours gardens, you have acid soil - they will not survive in alkali soil.

    Acid loving plants: Rhododendron, Camelia, Heathers (a few winter flowering varieties can accept alkali soil - ask when you buy), Pieris are happier in acid soil, Magnolia, Lithospermum, Calluna.

    Plants which will grow in alkali soil: Astilbe, Penstemon, Hosta, Forsythia, and most other herbacious plants will tollerate alkali.

  • Many thanks bigolob very helpfull,

    have now looked on Amazon books they have a large selection of paperback RHS guides at reasonable prices.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,638

    It's not always safe to go buy what your neighbours grow.  Across from me is a farm and riding centre and their garden is on deep sand which they try and improve with cartloads of horse manure each year but still have to come to me for a rhubarb crop as I am on deep loam over a clay subsoil.

    My soil is alkaline with neutral pockets and very fertile.   The next nearest garden is acid to neutral and can grow ericaceous plants whereas I have very good clematis and lavender and brassicas.   Most plants don't mind alkaline soil if it's as fertile as mine but some just can't get the essential minerals they need, such as iron and magnesium, as the calcium locks it from their roots.

    The RHS plant selector site gives good cultivation info on plants it lists but Google will find info for those it doesn't.    The RHS also publishes good gardening guides and the DR Hessayon series is also very helpful, simple and cheap. 

    I would beware of investing in the big encyclopedias too soon as they are expensive and go out of date as new plants are introduced but are lovely to browse and make wish lists and generally improve knowledge.   The RHS has also recently introduced a new, more detailed system of hardiness ratings which won't be in the encyclopedias just yet.  Worth waiting for them to catch up.


    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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