Can You Use Ericaceous Compost for Peonies: Picking The Perfect Compost

When it comes to compost, there are a lot of options to choose from. But which one is right for your peonies?

Let’s talk about the different types of compost and what you need to know before you pick the perfect one for your garden.

What Is Ericaceous Compost?

Ericaceous compost is designed for use with plants that need acidic soils, like azaleas, rhododendrons, and, of course, peonies.

If you’re not sure whether or not your plants fall into this category, it’s best to ask your local garden center for advice.

Ericaceous compost is usually made up of a mixture of sphagnum moss, horticultural charcoal, and sand. It’s the perfect choice for keeping your plants healthy and looking their best.

Is Ericaceous Compost Suitable for Peonies?

You might be wondering if Ericaceous compost is suitable for your Peonies. The answer is: it depends.

Ericaceous compost is perfect for acid-loving plants like Rhododendrons, Azaleas, and Blueberries.

Peonies, on the other hand, are not acid-loving plants. In fact, they prefer a neutral to alkaline soil pH of 6.0 to 7.2.

The pH of Ericaceous compost is between 4 to 5, making it very acidic for the peonies.

So, if your Peonies are planted in Ericaceous compost, they will not be able to take up the nutrients they need from the soil.

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This will result in a lack of blooms, and ultimately, the death of the plant.

When to Use Ericaceous Compost for Peonies?

When it comes time to think about what kind of compost to use for your peonies, you’ll need to first decide if they are ericaceous or not.

If they are, then you will need to use an ericaceous compost; if they are not, then you have a few other options.

Compost is divided into two categories: organic and inorganic.

Organic compost is made up of mostly plant-based materials, while inorganic compost is made up of mostly mineral-based materials.

Ericaceous compost falls into the organic category and is specifically made for ericaceous plants, which includes most types of peonies.

The great thing about ericaceous compost is that it is high in pH and low in nitrogen, which means it is perfect for ericaceous plants – acid-loving plants.

It also contains more moisture than other types of compost, which helps keep the soil around the peony’s roots moist.

Ericaceous compost should only be used if the soil in your location is extremely alkaline since it will reduce the pH of the soil, making it more neutral and suited for peonies.

Choosing the Right Nutrients for Peony Health

When it comes to picking the right nutrient-rich compost for your peony, there are lots of factors to consider.

Now, while Ericaceous compost is great for acid-loving plants, the truth is that it’s not the best choice for peonies.

This is because it contains a lot of iron and other minerals that can be harmful and cause root burn or other issues for peonies if not handled correctly.

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That’s why it is highly recommend using organic soil or a mix of organic soil and peat moss instead as this will provide your plant with just the right nutrients without risking any root damage.

You should also add some coarse horticultural grit to the surface of your potting mix, as this helps promote drainage and aeration around the roots.

Alternatives to Ericaceous Compost for Peonies

If Ericaceous compost isn’t a feasible option for your peonies, don’t despair; there are other alternatives.

For starters, you can always choose a compost made from organic materials like horse manure, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and fruit and vegetable scraps.

This type of compost is full of essential nutrients that will help your plants thrive.

You can also opt for bark-based composts as well as coir-based composts, which are made from coconut fibers.

All of these are great ways to provide the right level of acidity and drainage that peonies need in order to flourish.

The brand of compost for peonies that British Roses recommends most is John Innes No 3. This is due to its alkaline pH, loam basis (which contains actual soil), lack of manure, low amount of peat (all of which are harmful to a peony’s growth), good drainage, and abundance of nutrients necessary for plant growth.

Remember though: whatever type of compost you choose, it’s important to make sure it is free from weed seeds or pathogens.

You don’t want your newly planted peonies to be battling a fungus or an insect infestation straight away!

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Does Soil pH Matter When Growing Peonies?

The answer to this question is a resounding yes! The pH can determine whether your peonies thrive or struggle.

Peonies prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6.0, though they’re also flexible and can still do well in mildly alkaline soils between 6.5 to 7.2.

If you are using an ericaceous compost for your peonies, then it is likely that the pH will be way too acidic for your plants as ericaceous compost is designed to offer an acidic growing environment.

However, even with the addition of ericaceous compost, you should still measure the soil pH before planting and adjust accordingly if needed.

If you don’t want to use ericaceous compost, you can still mix other types of compost with some fertilizer that has been specially formulated for neutral-loving plants.

This will help create the right conditions for your peonies.

Alternatively, you could consider adding some sulfur chips or powder to the soil – this will help lower the pH, but it does take a long time for it to take effect, so bear this in mind when planning ahead!


Ericaceous compost is not very appropriate for peonies, to put it simply.

Even while peonies may thrive in somewhat acidic soil, the pH of ericaceous compost is far too acidic for them.

Peonies, however, demand neutral-pH soil. Therefore, visit your local nursery so they can assist you in selecting the proper form of compost if you’re serious about doing so.



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