Ericaceous compost is simply acidic compost. It has a pH level below 7.0, thus it is acidic.
It is best for plants that need acidic soil or acidic compost to thrive. Some examples of such plants are blueberries, azaleas, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, and cranberries.
Ericaceous compost provides nutrients essential for the growth of ericaceous plants.
So before you venture further in this reading, here’s the truth: Sweet peas do not like ericaceous soil or ericaceous compost.
Sweet peas thrive in soils that have a neutral to alkaline pH. A pH scale has values between 0-14, with values below 7 indicating an acidic state and those above 7 indicating an alkaline state.
A pH value of 7 indicates a neutral state. Peas love alkaline soil, hence it is not surprising that all varieties of peas thrive in alkaline soil without exception.
Coming back to the question. It seems unlikely that sweet peas will survive in ericaceous compost. Let us read further to understand this better!
What Happens If I Grow Sweet Peas In Ericaceous Compost?
Maybe you have ericaceous compost and want to put it to good use. Maybe you accidentally bought ericaceous compost without research and are now reconsidering your decision.
If you fall into all or either or none of these categories, growing sweet peas in ericaceous compost is not a good idea.
Ericaceous compost has a pH value below 5, and it is acidic. However, sweet peas can resist an acidity level with a pH value of 6 at the most.
Hence, ericaceous compost is too acidic for sweet peas. Of course, the peas won’t die immediately; their growth will be limited.
Sweet pea roots contain good bacteria. The acidic soil tends to kill those bacteria.
Bacteria consume excess nitrogen and regulate the pH level of the soil. If acidic content will go unregulated, there will be anomalies in the sweet pea plants.
Hence, it is not recommended to plant sweet peas in ericaceous soil.
However, if you have already planted sweet peas in ericaceous soil, there is no need for you to worry. Sweet peas can endure a pH level of 5.8.
If the deed is already done, then you might have to regulate the acidic level of the ericaceous compost. Primarily, one must ensure that the soil is full of nutrients.
What Soil Will Sweet Peas Grow In?
The previous section details why ericaceous compost is not suitable for sweet peas. But the question it arouses is what type of soil will sweet peas grow in?
Well, sweet peas are versatile in most soils, except for those with extreme acidity or extreme alkalinity. If any soil’s pH value lies on either extreme, sweet peas will not grow in that soil.
Another type of soil incompatible with sweet peas is one that is too filled with nutrients.
Although sweet peas can grow only in select soils, there are several types of soil suitable for sweet peas.
Sweet peas enjoy is soil that is rich in nutrients, not much, not less. They also love soils that do not hold water but drain effortlessly.
However, the soil must be capable of holding moisture for longer durations. Sweet peas also love soil that has deep bedding, as they produce long roots.
If your soil has low draining properties, then you should add compost. But, at the same time, if it has an exorbitant amount of nutrients, then adding rocks, sand, and twigs will improve drainage.
If your soil is low in nutrients, you will notice that the plants grow rather pale or yellowish. There are two remedies for nutrient-poor soils.
The first remedy is to get an expert opinion from a local garden store or a professional gardener. Be open to them about your requirements and they should help you.
The other remedy is to mix compost with organic material desirable for sweet peas. Adding a fertilizer that is rich in potassium will also work wonders for your plant.
What Soil Do Sweet Peas Grow Faster In?
The practice or methods mentioned in the previous section are the necessities for growing sweet peas. However, they are not enough to enable sweet peas to thrive and grow faster.
To speed up the growth of sweet peas, one should ensure that the soil is high in organic content. Soils that contain a good proportion of clay and silt will have a high organic content.
Sweet peas will thrive in soil that has a good fertility level. Fertile soil contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, necessary for plant nutrition.
To make your soil fertile, you can use granule fertilizer that has 10% nitrogen content, 20% phosphorous content and 10% potassium content. The proportion of phosphorous must be higher than the other components.
Sweet peas grow faster in soil that can consistently hold moisture. If your soil lacks consistent moisture, then you can set up a system to supply moisture throughout the day.
Although one must note that the top six inches of the soil must be consistently moist.
What To Do If You Are Already Using Ericaceous Compost For Sweet Peas?
If you have already planted sweet peas in ericaceous soil, or you have ericaceous compost in your soil, do not worry. We will guide you on how you can make the necessary adjustments.
Before changing the properties of the soil to increase its alkalinity, check the pH level of the soil. Once you have an idea about the acidity of the soil, you can now alkalinize the soil.
Add calcitic lime to the soil as per the ratios denoted on the bag to increase its alkaline content.
Ericaceous soil is not the best for sweet peas, and neither is ericaceous compost. It is very acidic for sweet peas, which like to grow in alkaline soil.
They have great colours and give the best scents. But growing them is an art, and requires adjusting the soil to promote the growth of sweet peas.
Sweet peas will grow in ericaceous compost, but they will not thrive as much as they do in alkaline soil.