Acid Loving Shrubs

Nature PhotographyYou’ve made an excellent choice by choosing an Acid Loving Shrub and need not worry about the higher acid level in your soil.  As the name says, your new shrub will love it.  Among varieties in this popular shrub class are rhododendrons, azaleas, blueberries, strawberries—even potatoes!

 Location:  The key with choosing a location for your Acid Loving Shrub is of course the soil’s acid content.  The best pH level is about 5.5.  The lower pH level enables your new shrub to absorb all the nutrients it needs to thrive.  Provide an organically enriched, well-draining and loamy garden soil for best results.

Planting Instructions:

  1. Check the soil’s pH level to ensure it’s in the correct range of acidity.

  2. Prepare the hole by digging twice as wide and twice as deep as the root ball.

  3. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole to improve drainage as much as possible.

  4. Fill the hole with water to test that drainage is adequate. If the hole takes several minutes or more to completely drain then you will need to improve drainage more.

  5. If your soil is lacking in organic matter, incorporate a mixture of equal parts of compost and peat moss into the soil you removed from the hole to achieve the proper soil mix and thoroughly combine.

  6. Carefully remove the shrub from its container.

  7. Set the shrub it in the hole, careful not to handle by the trunk.

  8. Cover the hole and adjust the soil level so that when you have finished the plant will be slightly higher than the surrounding soil to allow for settling.

  9. Fill the hole with water and allow it to drain.

Watering:  Make sure your Acid Loving Shrub gets plenty of water particularly during the first 2 years of growth which is vital to its development.  You can also water your shrub with leaf mould tea three times a year to help keep pH low and add potassium to encourage strong root growth and disease resistance.Red_Azalea_flower_up_close_shot

Fertilization:  Use an organic fertilizer and add coffee grounds, which research shows helps acid loving shrubs thrive.  Do not use fertilizers that contain a high calcium content such as egg shells or bone meal.  This will cause leaf yellowing and stunt the plant’s growth.

Pests:  See No Weevil – Many varieties of acid loving shrubs are susceptible to the root weevil.  Small bite marks on the outer edges of the leaves are a clear indication that these pests are present.  Roots may also exhibit signs of the weevil.  Eradicate the problem by adding nematodes—beneficial, tiny organisms that attack the weevil’s larvae.  Apply using a solution of cool water with a sponge and water into the surrounding soil as well.

Tips:

  • In case pH increases, apply pine needles, peat moss and bark mulch to keep soil at the required acidity level.

  • Also, mix vinegar-based pickle juice with 20 parts water into your soil.