The island of Faial in the Azores (located near Portugal) is known as the “blue island” because of the great number of hydrangeas growing on the island. The island sees plenty of rain and has perfectly acidic soil.
Hydrangea is a shade-loving plant that enjoys a moist, fertile, well-drained soil. When grown correctly, its flowers are incredibly blue due to the acid in the soil and the high aluminum content.
If you don’t know the pH of your soil, you can still grow hydrangea, the flowers will simply bloom pink or white (depending on the type of plant) instead of turning blue. Yet successful gardening means knowing the pH of your soil. It’s easy to test the pH of your soil when you buy a pH test kit or pH meter at Stockslagers.
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. Acid soils have a pH of 6.5 or less. A pH of 7 is neutral. Alkaline soils have a pH of 7.5 or more. Hydrangeas grow best in soil that has a pH of 5.2-5.5. If your soil is not in that range, you will need to manipulate the soil so the plant can absorb its needed nutrients. Growing some acid-loving plants in pots may make manipulation easier.
You can lower the pH by adding soil amendments such as:
- potting mix
- peat moss
- organic mulches
Or you can have a more immediate effect using acidifying fertilizers such as:
- aluminum sulfate
- ammonium nitrate
- elemental sulfur
- iron sulfate
- acidifying nitrogen
Plants such as foxglove, azalea, heather and all types of ferns grow well in acidic soils. Stop in to Stockslagers and get the “dirt” on all the acid-loving plants and how to manipulate your alkaline soil.
Other acidic loving plants include:
- Gardenia Heath
- Marigold Mountain-ash
- White cedar
Be sure to visit our center at 14037 Eaton Pike, New Lebanon, Ohio or call us at (937) 687-2722