While it is possible to tailor the content of your soil or mulch in order to suit whichever cultivars you wish to plant, it is generally best to go with what you’ve got. By all means improve it with compost or well-rotted manure, but basically the particular acid or alkaline levels of your garden will always eventually prevail. So in this article, and following ones, we’ll be covering shrubs suited to varying degrees of acidity and this week’s concerns those comfortable at Ph. 6 and below, or acidic soils.
It’s easy to test your soil with a small, inexpensive test kit you can buy at the garden centre, but it’s always good to take samples from different areas in the garden to make sure you don’t get a rogue reading!
Floral & Hardy’s Top Ten Shrubs for Acid Soils
Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Garnet’
‘Garnet’ is a small, mound-forming shrub with finely-cut, purple foliage which turns bright scarlet in autumn. Great for Japanese style gardens.
Azalea (Rhododendron) ‘Gibraltar’
This deciduous Azalea is a vibrant addition to any bed or border as they are possessed of an upright, spreading habit and will display broad, oblong leaves accompanied by fragrant, bright orange flowers in late spring. They also have good autumn foliage, but you should ensure they are well sheltered and kept away from a northern aspect.
Calluna ‘H.E. Beale’
A hardy species of Heather, this cultivar is small and wide with autumnal pink flowering and green, scrub-like foliage. They perform best in direct sunlight and as such should not be overly sheltered.
Camellia ‘Adolphe Audusson’
An erect evergreen shrub, ‘Adolphe’ is large and dense, with glossy leaves and broad, vibrant flowers of deep red with bright yellow stamens. They are tolerant of most aspects except East facing, don’t mind shade and, like their counterparts on this list, they prefer a moist but well-drained soil.
Otherwise known as the ‘Redvein Enkianthus’, this large deciduous shrub produces clumps of creamy, red-tinged flowers from late spring to early summer and in the autumn the foliage will change to brilliant oranges, reds and yellows. Ideally planted in semi-shade with plenty of shelter.
Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’
The romantically named ‘Witch Hazel’ is a large deciduous shrub with an open habit whose emerald foliage will turn to a heady orange/red in autumn and in winter will bear fragrant flowers with matching colours. Any aspect will do here, though it is important that the plant receive some shelter from the elements.
The ‘Mountain Laurel’ is an evergreen shrub with glossy, dark-green leaves and in summer it will bear clusters of grand pink/white flowers, however be warned that the leaves of this plant are highly toxic to ingest. They prefer partial shade to sun and a south facing aspect.
Pernettya mucronata ‘Mulberry Wine’
One of the smaller entrants to our list, this thicket forming specimen will show small, spiny leaves and small white flowers in summer followed by beautiful, glossy, magenta-purple berries. It prefers partial, or full shade and humus-rich soil content – also ensure they are well-drained.
Pieris ‘Forest Flame’
‘Forest Flame’ is an evergreen shrub with light green foliage with spectacular red new growth and a clustered collection of white, lily-of-the-valley-like flowers in spring. It is recommended you plant this cultivar in full sunlight.
Rhododendron ‘Purple Splendour’
Another Rhododendron to cap off our list, although this time an evergreen one, and as the name would suggest this cultivar will bloom with large, purple flowers in late spring. They prefer partial shade or full sun and well-drained soil.
By Josh Ellison