Ericaceous plants thrive in acidic soil that has low alkalinity. They are not compatible with the alkaline composition of the soil. The alkaline-free soil wherein ericaceous plants thrive is ericaceous.
Ericaceous compost is a compost that perfectly suits ericaceous plants. The pH of ericaceous compost is between 4 & 5.
Ericaceous plants need the acidic content found in ericaceous composts to process nutrients for adequate absorption. For example, the acidic content breaks down iron in a way that the roots can easily absorb it.
What pH Levels Do Hydrangeas Like?
Hydrangeas are versatile, i.e. they can naturally grow in any type of soil. One can plant them in alkaline soils, acidic soils, and natural soils without adverse effects.
However, acidic soils can provide the hydrangea with the ease of absorbing maximum nutrients from the soil.
Another interesting aspect of pH on hydrangea is that they bloom colors depending on the pH of the soil.
If the pH of the soil is higher, hydrangea is rich in alkalis. The result will be lighter blooms, maybe even light-pinkish.
If the pH of the soil is neutral, the blooms are medium to dark pink.
If the pH of the soil is mildly acidic, the blooms are deep blue and become lighter as the level of acidity increases.
Hence, the pH level depends on the gardener who can regulate the pH level according to the desired color.
Benefits Of Ericaceous Soil On Hydrangeas
The advantages of ericaceous compost or ericaceous soil for hydrangea are as below.
One of them is that ericaceous soil has a high amount of organic matter, which promotes bacterial and earthworm activity. This increases nutrients in the soil and such nutrients are easy for plants to absorb.
Hydrangea needs nitrogen to improve their chlorophyll production capacity. Thus, ericaceous compost offers a major benefit as it is rich in nitrogen.
Hydrangea needs phosphorous to process nutrients in the soil. Ericaceous compost is rich in phosphorous and offers immense value as the hydrangea becomes blossomy.
The composition of the compost is such that it is rich in nitrogen and phosphorous. Ericaceous compost offers another vital mineral, i.e. potassium.
Ericaceous soil has a two-folded property that significantly assists the growth of hydrangea. The earthworms are responsible for it.
Ericaceous soil can hold moisture for a long time and it can drain water effectively so the roots do not get saturated.
Ericaceous compost is rich in iron, which is an essential property needed for green leaves.
Do Other Compost Mixes Work For Hydrangeas?
Ericaceous compost or ericaceous soil is great for hydrangea. However, if one cannot arrange or find an ericaceous compost mix, all hope is not lost.
Although ericaceous compost mix has great advantages, other compost mixes are available for use as well.
One compost mix alternative instead of ericaceous compost for hydrangea is green compost, rich in nutrients.
Another alternative is brown compost, rich in carbon. Bark compost and multi-purpose compost are easily available in the market to buy.
The only requirement that alternative compost mixes must meet is that they should be rich in nutrients. If the compost mix is nutrient-rich, then any plant will grow in the compost.
One compost mix apart from ericaceous compost that stands out is the multi-purpose compost. This mix is versatile and can grow a variety of plants.
So, if you cannot arrange an ericaceous compost mix, you can try a multipurpose compost mix for the best results.
How To Make The Soil Acidic (Or Ericaceous)
Before starting the process of making the soil acidic, remember to complete this important step.
Determine the pH level of your existing soil. One can determine the pH level of soil using pH paper or a pH testing kit.
After you determine the pH level of the soil, you can now consider changing its pH.
Begin by gathering a pile full of organic matter for your compost. It should be at least 8 inches thick when spread on the ground.
Now it is time to add some acidic content to the mix, commonly known as mulching. Mulches consist of pine needles, pine bark, and oak leaves.
Mulches regulate the pH level of soil over longer durations. As the pine needles and oak leaves decompose, the soil will be acidified.
Another alternative is to use aluminum sulfate. Aluminum sulfate in the soil will produce blue hydrangea.
One can easily find them in garden stores. Mixing it with water and soaking the soil in spring will increase the acidity of the soil.
However, this process will have to be repeated monthly over 3 months to maintain the acidity.
Adding compost tea to the soil will increase its acidic level. Remember to check the pH of the soil before use.
It is worth noting that adding citric acid to compost tea makes it more acidic.
You won’t ignore the next tip if you love coffee. Yes, coffee grounds can acidify the soil.
Mix the coffee grounds in the soil or just sprinkle them near the base. This will make hydrangea bright and colorful.
Is Homemade Ericaceous Compost Good Enough?
Ericaceous compost must consist of enough organic matter to decompose the minerals that the hydrangea need. Once you fulfill this condition, there is no need to worry about the quality of your compost mix.
Store-bought compost will have standard quality. However, once done right, homemade ericaceous compost will be of the same quality as that from the store.
Ericaceous compost is wholesome for hydrangea. It allows one to regulate hydrangea’s color by modifying the soil’s acidic content.
Ericaceous compost benefits hydrangea by making them blossom and be healthy. They provide much-required nutrients and minerals for hydrangea.
However, one will have to reapply such compost every year as the soil keeps reverting to its former condition.
It hardly matters whether you use DIY acidic compost or store-bought ericaceous compost. The only condition is that the compost must have enough acidic content to benefit the plant.
Your plants will love such compost and will be more than happy to grow colorfully.