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How to grow ericaceous plants

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Difficulty rating: Low

This task should be fairly straightforward regardless of your gardening experience.

Plant: Preferably in Autumn

Ericaceous plants are acid loving and they are very particular about the soil they are grown in. Rhododendron, Azaleas and Camellias are quite spectacular and provide a blaze of colour. Others in the range include Heathers, Pieris, Blueberry, Fothergilla, summer flowering Heathers and Acers.

Step 1. Test soil acidity

All soils are not the same. Find out what type of soil you have in your garden by buying a simple soil testing kit. 7 means neutral soil, while acidic soils have a pH of under 7 and alkaline soils a pH above 7. Soils with a high lime content are alkaline and are not suited to ericaceous plants; in fact, ericaceous plants dislike any soil above pH7.5.

You can tell if your ericaceous plants are in the wrong soil as the leaves will turn yellow, flowers will be poor and in the end they will die.

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Step 2. Pick the right place to plant  

Ericaceous plants should be planted in acidic to neutral soils not rated above pH7, rich in organic matter and well drained. With the exception of Caluna and Blueberries, most prefer a position out of direct sunlight and under the shelter of trees, but Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Heathers like a slightly sunnier position although not in direct sunlight.

Container planting is a very good way to avoid any problems, as you can choose the perfect place in your garden and the correct soil for the pots. A raised bed filled with ericaceous potting compost is another way.

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Step 3. Use ericaceous plant food/compost

Only feed these plants with ericaceous plant food as ordinary plant food will not produce such good results, choose from liquid, granular, or continuous release plant foods. In particular avoid mushroom compost or manure because of its lime content.

From June to August it’s important to feed Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias, it’s also essential to keep the soil moist whenever it’s seen to be drying out, but especially in the summer.

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How to grow ericaceous plants

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