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I have always believed my soil to be neutral so have always had my Rhodies, Pieris, camellia etc in pots. Out and about lately I've noticed that many of the gardens around here have said acid loving plants in the gardens & not in pots.
Last year my neighbour planted a beautiful pieris and he also has a lovely rhodie in his garden too both of which look pretty healthy to me.
I have just done another soil test using a new testing kit and yep it's showing I have neutral soil! I'd love to have my plants in the ground and out of their pot but I'm a bit reluctant to put them in to see how they do because I'd hate to loose them.
Am I missing something really obvious here?
Is your soil light and sandy, clay-based or a good loam (ie looks like a John Innes No. 3 compost, if you've ever seen that)?
it could be that your neighbours acid loving plants have been planted in soil with added peat or ericacious compost
My garden is neutral to alkaline but I have Pieris planted in there. I have just made sure that the hole you dig for the plant is bigger that what you would normally dig for the plant .I also add a mulch of ericacious compost around the base of the plant and then give them an acid water souluable fertiiser every month. I have not yet lost one yet do to my soil condition
Sometimes in areas of acid soil the garden may have been heavily limed by a previous gardener, especially a keen vegetable grower. This was standard advice for vegetable growers at one time and once limed it takes a long time for the natural acidity to come back. This might explain your neutral soil.
This is a popular misconception about rhodies and pieris etc. They don't need acid soil - they just don't like alkaline. My soil is neutral - all the gardens I've had were neutral and all these plants grow like mad in them. Add some ericaceous soil when you plant if you're worried but all these plants will benefit from being in the ground rather than pots
If you are a little nervous about planting them in the ground I would suggest you dip your toe in the shallow end and just plant one next year and see how it does. If it's okay you can then dive in.
Hi All & thank you for your replies...
Bob my soil is quite light and sandy and very well drained where I am thinking of putting at least 2 of the plants.
Steve, never thought of that so thanks for your suggestion
Invicta2, we have lived her for 20 years and it was new build when we moved here. Prior to that it was a hospital grounds so no veggies grown here.
Fairygirl & Scott,, think I'll bite the bullet and do as you both suggest.
Live dangerously tattianna - nothing ventured etc!
If the soil's quite light I'd definitely add plenty of good compost, and some FYM if you can, to get them off to a good start. They don't like to be short of water while establishing so water them well once they're in and mulch with bark or some more compost to stop them drying out.
I agree with Fairygirl. If you want to add a bit of ericaceous compost to the compost & FYM to ensure a slight acidity, it will last for a few years on that type of soil. Not strictly necessary for the plants you mention as FG said, but worth knowing if you ever wanted to grow something like blueberries which do really need a low pH.