Ericaceous compost is highly acidic.
Ericaceous compost is made of organic and inorganic matter mixed in specific proportions. Ericaceous compost is used to grow ericaceous (acid-loving) plants.
Acidity in compost plays a vital role in plant growth and nutrient intake. Ericaceous compost is only suitable for shrubs like azaleas, blueberries, camellia, and Cassiopeia.
If you intend to grow lime-loving plants, ericaceous compost is not an ideal option. Similarly, if ericaceous plants are grown without ericaceous compost, they turn yellow and eventually die.
What Is Ericaceous Compost
Ericaceous compost is a peat-free compost made from organic and inorganic matter. The organic matter includes garden soil and compost. Inorganic content consists of perlite and sand.
Homemade ericaceous compost has citrus fruit scraps, pine needles, leaves and citrus peels along with other acidic items.
Ericaceous compost has pH levels lower than 7 and therefore, it only supports the growth of ericaceous plants.
Moreover, ericaceous compost has variable acidity, which strongly depends on the type of composting material used in its preparation.
Benefits Of Using Ericaceous Compost
Ericaceous compost may seem useless since it does not provide an ideal growing medium for all plants but it is highly beneficial for ericaceous plants and some fruit and vegetable plants.
- Ericaceous compost is ideal for potted plants because you can control the integrity of compost when it’s not mixed with soil.
- It provides a perfect condition for acid-loving plants to grow.
- Retains moisture just like other peat-free composts.
- Can be prepared at home easily.
Which Plants Grow Well In Ericaceous Compost
Ericaceous plants which require an acidic environment for growth, grow well in ericaceous compost.
There are several ericaceous plants used for decorative purposes and fruit-bearing shrubs that fall under the category of ericaceous plants.
Ericaceous compost can grow Azealia, Acer, Magnolia, Juniper, Enkianthus, Gaultheria, Raspberry, Blueberry, Camellia, and Calluna.
What Happens If Non-Ericaceous Plants Is Grown In Ericaceous Compost
They say plants are adaptable, meaning they can adjust in any condition, but not in the case of ericaceous compost.
For instance, Rose plant cannot tolerate a pH level lower than 5.0 and hence die.
Ericaceous compost is only suitable for acid-loving and lime-hating plants.
If a lime-loving plant or a plant that cannot withstand acidic soil is panted in ericaceous compost, the plants take up nutrients quite efficiently. This overloading of nutrients causes wilting and the plant dies eventually.
For homemade compost, it is advised to check its pH levels too before addition to a plant pot or plant roots.
Can Citrus Tree Grow In Ericaceous Compost
It is not impossible to grow lime-loving plants in ericaceous compost.
Lime-loving plants can be grown in ericaceous compost however, the pH level has to be measured.
Since ericaceous compost has varying acidity, it may nourish a non-ericaceous plant more than regular compost.
In the scenario of citrus tree, the Citrus tree produces citrus fruit that has citric acid in it.
Citrus trees demand a slightly acidic (pH 6-6.5) environment to flourish. It is strongly suggested to use ericaceous compost, without lime alteration, for promoting the healthy growth of citrus fruits.
Similarly, the lemon tree requires an acidic compost with pH levels below 6. Therefore, it is completely possible for lemon and citrus tree to grow in ericaceous compost.
Can Vegetables Grow In Ericaceous Compost
Generally, vegetables require pH levels of 6-6.5.
Some vegetables like garlic are highly acidic. To grow acidic vegetables ericaceous compost is required.
Not just garlic but cucumbers, celery, garlic, winter squash, sweet potato, carrots, and green pepper can also grow in ericaceous compost with pH levels ranging between 5.5 to 6.5.
However, if the pH level of ericaceous compost falls below this range, the nutrient up-take speeds up and damages these vegetables.
But one of these vegetables has the ability to withstand strong acidic soil and that is potato. Potatoes can withstand strong pH levels of 5.
Can Eucalyptus Gum Tree Grow In Ericaceous Compost
Eucalyptus gum trees are widely used around the roadside to soak up extra water. Eucalyptus grows rapidly and needs a lot of room to spread.
Eucalyptus grows well in acidic soil and a good draining peat-free ericaceous compost is a good fit for a eucalyptus tree whether it is planted in the ground or in big pots.
However, eucalyptus releases acid into the soil. When an acid-releasing eucalyptus is planted into an acidic compost, the soil quality is badly degraded.
This plantation must be avoided because it puts nearby vegetation at risk of dying due to soil acidification.
Is There A Way To Grow Non-Ericaceous Plants In Ericaceous Compost
It is better to use a non-acidic compost to grow lime-loving plants but if you do not have access to non-acidic compost, alter your ericaceous compost.
The addition of lime in the ericaceous compost can help you grow non-ericaceous plants in the same compost.
Lime is rock-powdered soil extracted from limestone. It is enriched with minerals like calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. Adding lime to ericaceous compost will increase its alkalinity.
The pH level will rise from acidic to basic and a wide range of plants will be able to thrive in the same compost.
Testing the soil pH is very important after this kind of alteration as plant growth is dependent on the type of compost used.
Ericaceous compost is non-hazardous to the environment and promotes the growth of acid-loving plants. Lime-loving plants, on the contrary, do not behave well with ericaceous compost and die eventually.
Ericaceous compost is limited to ericaceous plants like blueberries, raspberries, and azalea, etc.
However, research has shown that several citrus fruit trees and vegetable wines and plants grow well in ericaceous compost.
Indeed, ericaceous compost cannot be used for all plants but it can be to promote the growth of many plants. Ericaceous compost is a good fit for potted plants and potatoes which can thrive in the highly acidic environments.
Moreover, the addition of limestone can also alter the acidic nature of ericaceous compost to slightly basic.