Ericaceous compost explained

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 you could make a big mistake if you start trying to grow Camellias, Blueberries or Heather, to name but a few.

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?

The meaning of the word ‘ericaceous’ directly relates to the definition of plants in the Ericaceae family. Plants that are in the Ericaceae family are primarily known for the fact that they can only grow in acidic soil. This means that these acid-loving plants would need an acidic compost to sustain growth. The compost here is acting as a growing medium to supplement the growth process.

Ericaceous plants are also known as a group 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 looking 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!

Rhododendrons are an ericaceous plant

Why Do These Plants Need Ericaceous Compost?

If you try to grow ericaceous plants in alkaline or limey soils, they produce yellow leaves. This is a condition known as lime-induced chlorosis, where they don’t grow or flower well and usually, die.

The main reason for this is that they need plenty of iron and other soil nutrients that become insoluble or ‘locked up’ in the soil at high pH, 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 looking to grow your plants in a large container/pot filled with ericaceous compost. The reason for the container is so that you have the freedom to place your plants in the right area of your garden, depending on the shade and sunlight in your garden.

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.

You will ned to regularly water ericaceous plants too, especially during the summer period. So ensure you are watering your plants weekly and mulch the soil well to retain moisture.

Have you got some ericaceous plants that you are proud of? Perhaps you have a few tips, or some advice regarding acid loving plants? We would love to hear about your success stories, or better yet, see progress with your photos of your plants!

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