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Ericaceous plants in neutral soil?

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by HarryS, Sep 9, 2021.

  1. HarryS

    HarryS Eternally Optimistic Gardener

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    Just planted a lovely Leucothoe shrub in my pretty neutral soil. Now I know that they are an ericaceous plant. and prefer acidic soil. Will it make much difference growing in neutral soil? Are there any feeding points I need to apply?

    TIA
     
  2. JWK

    JWK Gardener Staff Member

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    I'd like to think you can grow it ok but monitor the foliage for yellowing. You can feed with sequestered iron tonic and/or work flowers of sulphur around the base of the plant to increase acidity.
     
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    • HarryS

      HarryS Eternally Optimistic Gardener

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      Thanks John, I'll give it a feed with the sequestered iron a couple of times per year :blue thumb:
       
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      • Michael Hewett

        Michael Hewett Total Gardener

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        I have never been able to grow a Leucothoe in neutral soil. My current one is in a pot with ericaceous compost. It's been there several years and has got quite big.
         
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        • pete

          pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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          I think we try to make it too easy dividing plants into just two categories or even three.
          There are various degrees of lime hateing plants.
          Not really had much of a problem with Camelias in my neutral soil, Rhododendron is a bit more tricky but I don't think I would even try something like blueberries.
           
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          • hailbopp

            hailbopp Gardener

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            You are spot on Pete. As far as I know the majority of Scotland is acidic and that includes people in certain areas:roflol:.
            I presumed that where I live now would be pretty similar ph wise to my previous garden and duly planted a considerable amount of Rhododendron, Azalea, Camellia Pieris etc. There was a pretty healthy heather bank here when we moved so everything suggested the soil would be acidic.
            All seem absolutely fine. About 8 years ago a professional gardener offered to do a proper soil test ( not just litmus paper) for me and I jumped at the offer.To my total amazement the test came back that my soil is much nearer to neutral than acidic! Maybe because I have always planted ericaceous plants with lashings of leaf mould and manure I have got away with it. But then our gorgeous totally natural spring water does cause minor chalk deposits on taps etc. Nothing like how severe it was when living down south but still, so again maybe not nearly as an acidic area as I presumed.
            I planted about 30 Rhododendron and Azaleas 2 years ago. 2 of the bigger growing not Yak Hybrids were labelled as must having acidic soil and they are looking a little yellow( more yellow than the others) but have grown well and flowered this year.
            After many years of growing ericaceous plants I now realise as Pete put it, it is the degree of how limey your soil is and just how averse the plants are which is the key. Every year my Camellias are sensational IF the frosts don’t do their worst. They certainly have no issues with my soil’s ph.I even have a couple of well established species Rhododendron which are fine too.
            Maybe it is a case similar to the plant food companies who keep telling us we must feed our plants or they will die( hmm only ever use any kind of feed for veg growing) after all who, as an example goes to the remote areas of India and China to feed the Rhododendrons that are the forebears of the ones we now enjoy in our gardens?) Perhaps it is of benefit to compost suppliers who enjoy making a premium supplying ericaceous compost when for many plants and areas in the UK it is not necessary.

            The below are a few examples of plants that have never been fed since planted over 10 years agoA5E0868E-0828-469D-9C12-7EE356124948.jpegA1146370-ED7C-4D86-9CE8-4448E35E6387.jpeg2DD8751B-F26C-4249-BD9C-0A67584F2F50.jpeg
            ED7EA74D-89AB-4ECD-A28C-4610275E2012.jpeg
             
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              Last edited: Sep 10, 2021
            • NigelJ

              NigelJ Total Gardener

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              Agree with other comments on here my soil is neutral and I grow camellias and a few rhododendrons, plus a few other shrubs even got an ornamental vaccinium quite happily.
              I do mulch these things with composted pine needles, of which I have an ample supply.
              Any yellowing and I tend to water with Epsom salts which generally clears it up.
               
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              • pete

                pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                As to feeding, never ever fed a shrub or tree planted in the garden.
                Never water that kind of stuff either.

                My soil is clay and sandstone below the top foot or so. Once the roots get into the clay they don't look back.

                I know lots of ericacaous plants tend to be surface rooted, so I do make an effort for those.
                 
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                • hailbopp

                  hailbopp Gardener

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                  The only shrubs I do water are the relatively newly planted Rhododendrons and Azaleas which as you say Pete are surface rooters. They are mulched with bark but it had been unusually hot and dry this summer and some were flagging. The ones I planted years ago needed no attention however and by next season I doubt the newish lot will need much help either.
                   
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                  • Selleri

                    Selleri Koala

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                    "... and just look at my marvellous haven of lush growth, teeming with wildlife and an oasis for relaxation"

                    [​IMG]

                    :heehee: Sorry
                     
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                    • pete

                      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                      Dry as the proverbial bone.;)DSC01776.JPGDSC01796.JPG
                       
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