Share the story
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

How many times do we buy a plant without carefully looking at the plant label first?! It’s totally understandable because we’re so excited about the plant we’ve just found! However, checking soil type is just as important as whether it likes sun or shade as some plants are just downright fussy. Some of the fussier ones only grow well in an acidic soil and are known as ericaceous plants or, more commonly, lime-hating plants.

If your soil is acidic, it’s worth noting that most acid loving plants are shallow rooted and will therefore dry out easily when it doesn’t rain for a long time. So, it’s very important to keep the soil or compost moist. Did you know that dry soil in the summer is one of the biggest causes of camellias not flowering in spring the following year?

Adding a thick layer of well-rotted organic matter like garden compost to moist soil will help stop roots drying out and keep your ericaceous beauties flowering.

So, for those of you with acidic soil here are my top 10 picks of a range of ericaceous plants for year round interest:

1. Camellia x williamsii (camellia) ‘Anticipation’

Camellias are such beautiful shrubs to have in the garden and this variety is no exception. It’s an extremely hardy evergreen with shiny bright leaves and seems to be one of the most popular and easy to grow.

Its flowers are multi-petalled crimson in a ruffled, peony shape, appearing late winter and continuing into early spring. The narrow upright habit makes it ideal for growing in a large patio container.

  • Flowers winter to spring
  • Hardy
  • Moist but well-drained, or well-drained
  • Full shade or partial shade
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

2. Rhododendron ’Nova Zembla’

Second is another wonderfully easy medium size shrub to grow. The beautiful shaped dark red flowers that bloom in late May to early June will fade to a deep pink if planted in a very sunny spot. Its dense habit makes it great for hedging or screening.

  • Flowers spring to summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Can reach 1.75m tall and wide
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

3. Pieris japonica (pieris) ‘Flaming Silver’

This evergreen compact shrub gets its common name from the masses of white bell-shaped flowers that appear late spring hanging off small tassel-like stems.

This variety also has beautiful silver variegated leaves edged silvery-white combined with bright flame red foliage, making this acid loving plant the ultimate spring showstopper!

  • Flowers in spring
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall and 1m wide
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

4. Vaccinium corymbosum (blueberry)

I know this shrub is a fruiting crop but it’s a great plant to include in flower borders with other acid loving ornamentals. Not only does it have pretty white flowers in spring, but the leaves turn gorgeous red-yellow shades before falling in the autumn. Plus you get the added bonus of tasty, healthy fruit in the summer!

  • Flowers spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall and wide
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

5. Gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen)

Next is a plant that’s a great low growing evergreen ground cover for acidic soils. The leaves give off a pleasant scent when crushed and turn shades of red during the winter months.

The small, bell shaped white or pinkish colour flowers that are characteristic of many acidic loving plants turn into red berries from late autumn.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Low growing reaching 50cm tall and 1m wide
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Partial shade or full shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

6. Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)

Oh, the joy of seeing a Japanese maple in all its autumn finery. They are real fire crackers, with some varieties showing bright crimson leaves in autumn/winter but also in spring.

Then, on some cultivats such as ‘Sumi-nagashi’, the leaves change colour again in summer to a deep maroon red.

Growing well in full sun, this enhances the vivid red leaf colour, but do remember to place it out of direction of strong winds.

  • Foliage interest from spring to autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Can reach 4m tall and wide
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

7. Magnolia liliiflora (black lily magnolia) ‘Nigra’

This is a great choice if your soil is only slightly acidic and you don’t have an overly large garden. The gorgeous dark purple-red flowers appear at a younger age than most other magnolias and will flower through the summer into early autumn.

They appreciate moist soil, so adding a layer of leaf mould or well-rotted manure to the soil around the base of the tree in spring will help the tree stay healthy and happy.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hard
  • Grows up to 4m tall and 2.5m wide
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

8. Leucothoe fontanesiana (dog hobble) ‘Rainbow’ 

When you’ve got leaves as lovely as this plant has who needs flowers? This undemanding shiny leaved evergreen shrub grows in neat shape making it a great addition to an architectural garden.

The lance-shaped leaves are mottled with cream and pink, with striking colouring.

  • Evergreen, foliage interest all year round
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall and wide
  • Moist but well-drained or poorly-drained
  • Partial shade or full shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

9. Liriope muscari (big blue lilyturf)

Next is another easy going, undemanding evergreen plant with strap like arching green leaves and dark maroon coloured stems with bright violet flowers late summer to mid-autumn.

Not only will it grow well in acid soil, but it will also tolerate being grown in a dry shady position. There aren’t many flowering plants that will cope with all those setbacks, making it a great plant to add to that difficult part of the garden.

  • Flowers in autumn
  • Hardy
  • Can reach 45cm tall and wide
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full shade or partial shade
  • Sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

10. Calluna vulgaris ‘Garden Girl Series’ (heather)

No list of plants for acidic soil would be complete without talking about heathers; dwarf, bushy evergreen shrubs that love full sun and acidic soil.  This series come in a wide range of bright reds, pinks and whites and are very low maintenance; just lightly clip the lower stalks after flowering

  • Flowers summer to autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Can reach 50cm tall and wide
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
Rose-petal-salad-2

If you don’t have acidic soil but like the look of some of these plants, try growing them in containers with an ericaceous John Innes formula compost. This compost is heavier than multi-purpose compost formulas and so will help stop containers falling over in strong winds. Then, remember to keep them well watered and you’re good to grow!

For plants for your garden path, read this:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

plants garden path
Plants for a garden path
Pinterest
Pinterest Board


Share the story
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •