It's happened to all of us, we buy a beautiful plant knowing that we have that perfect spot for it where it will thrive and bring us joy for many years! We carefully transport it home and lovingly plant it, give it a bit of water and fertiliser, and then stand back and wait for it to spread the joy.... But alas, nothing happens.
Despite all our love and attention it just will not grow, or grows very slowly, or the leaves just pale off. "What have I done wrong?" you ask. Well, there could be many reasons why the poor plant isn't thriving. Is it too wet, too dry, too sunny, too shady? Is it the wrong plant for the area? It could be any of these reasons... or none of the above!
One very important factor in plant growing is the pH of the soil. In other words, is the soil too acid, too alkaline or just right. The pH reading of the soil in your garden will determine how well plants will grow in that section. The majority of plants are happy in a neutral or slightly acidic soil, which would read at a neutral 7 or around 6 - 6.5 is considered acceptable. Any less is considered acidic soil and 7+ is considered alkaline.
Some plants, like azaleas, camellias and to a lesser extent gardenias, are happy in a reasonably acidic soil, say around 5. A very small number of plants will tolerate an alkaline reading of around 7.5, but if your soil is outside of those readings its time to take action.
Okay! We hear you cry from the bottom of the garden "How can I fix it!" Well the first thing to do is to find out what the pH reading of your soil is. Any good nursery will test a sample of your soil for free and can then advise on a remedy. Or, simple test kits are available to buy, which can be useful knowing that the pH reading can vary throughout your garden and you may want to test multiple spots.
The good news is, if your pH balance is out of whack, its a pretty simple fix! If the soil is too acid, chuck on some Dolomite. Or, if its too alkaline, some sulphur or even good old cow manure may fix it! Garden Mate Rock Minerals is also a fantastic all-round product to improve soil structure and pH balance. It is important to check the soil every now and again to see if the pH is stable, particularly if you are treating the area so you can track progress.
So all in all, it doesn't have to be a big deal or all that expensive to get your soil healthy.... and you can be assured your plants will love you for it!
Do you have any spots in the garden you think might be suffering from pH imbalance? Bring in a sample of your soil and we can test it in store for free! At our Retail Garden Centre at Wongawallan.