So you’re looking to plant some flowers that require an ericaceous compost and you’re thinking “What on earth does ericaceous mean and what does it do?” Well, you are certainly not alone in thinking that!
There are a fair few plants that can only grow in this type of compost due to a couple of key environmental factors. Meaning that if you start trying to grow Camellias, Blueberries or Heather without checking your soil type first you could be setting yourself up for failure.
However, don’t worry! We’ve got all of the information you need to know regarding ericaceous compost and how it will help certain plants in your garden.
What is ericaceous compost?
Ericaceous soil is a more acidic type of soil named after the plants that like to grow in it. They are known as the “Ericaceae” family. This means that these acid-loving plants need a more acidic compost to sustain their growth. Ericaceous plants are also known by the fact that they are lime-hating plants, meaning that they do not grow well in alkaline-based soils.
Which plants need an ericaceous compost?
If you are going to grow the following plants you will need an ericaceous compost to supplement growth; Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias, Hydrangeas, Holly, Fern, Gardenia, Aster, Magnolia, Pachysandra, Lupine, Pieris, Viburnum, Bleeding Heart, Japanese Maple, Juniper, Blueberries, Raspberries and Cranberries… There are plenty more so make sure you do your research on what type of compost your plant needs!
Why do these plants need ericaceous compost?
If you try to grow ericaceous plants in alkaline or lime soils they produce yellow leaves. It’s a condition known as lime-induced chlorosis. They don’t grow or flower well and usually die. The main reason for this is that they need iron and other soil nutrients and if the soil is high pH these become insoluble or ‘locked up’ in the soil so the plants can’t absorb them.
If your soil is alkaline you may find it easier to grow these plants in pots or tubs.
How should I care for and grow my ericaceous plants?
You should be thinking about growing your plants in a large container or pot filled with ericaceous compost. The reason for the container is so that you can then place your plants in the right area of your garden for their needs.
Most Ericaceous plants cannot be in the direct sunlight as their flowers will turn brown from the exposure. That makes them perfect plants for growing in shade.
Ensure that you are feeding your plants with a suitable fertiliser and with the compost, you will need a specific ericaceous plant feed. There is an option of a continuous release plant food, which feeds for 6 months from just one application.