What is special about ericaceous compost?

December, 2023
Darren Spalding

The goal is simply to create an acidic, organic-rich, springy, free-draining environment, like the woodland and heathland environments where these plants grow in nature. The bulk of the planting medium should be ericaceous compost, which is specially formulated for acid lovers. To this you can add garden compost, badly decomposed manure, composted bark, sawdust or wood shavings, leaf mould or pine needles. This, in turn, keeps the leaves green and healthy.

The term "Ericaceae" refers to a family of plants in the family Ericaceae . Acidity and alkalinity are measured by the pH (potential of hydrogen) scale, and you can find out the pH of your soil with an inexpensive and simple test kit. But what is ericaceous compost? Read on to find out more. The Royal Horticultural Society recommends a loam-based ericaceous compost, such as John Innes Compost, but says that peat-free ericaceous composts are continually improving and will be perfectly adequate.

Can ericaceous compost be used for all plants?

If the pH is above 7.0, you should probably grow your ericaceous plants in pots and ericaceous compost. Of course, before using ericaceous compost in your garden, it is important to understand why certain plants need it. Place a layer of garden soil on top of the compost pile so that the microorganisms in the soil can jump-start the decomposition process. Whatever variety you choose, be sure to repot your plants if they are grown in pots every few years because this compost will naturally lose its nutrients and structure over time.

As mentioned above, the best way to determine if you need to add ericaceous compost (or any other additive) to your garden is to have your soil tested. Your plants will also thank you for feeding them ericaceous compost in the spring when they start growing again. Until recently, many potting composts, especially ericaceous composts, had peat as a main ingredient.

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