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Acid loving plants

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Acid loving plants

Post  Chopper on 12/20/2010, 11:02 pm

Our soil here is very alkaline but I planted an azalea anyway. It is looking a bit pekid (peaked?? sp?). And of course I have a hard time keeping the acid balance it needs. I was wondering if I watered with a dilute vinegar solution once a week if it might help. Any feedback on this?

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  Lavender Debs on 12/21/2010, 4:08 am

I'm no gardener Chopper, so take this knowing that. Even so, I use diluted vinegar in a spray bottle to kill weeds growing through the cracks in the driveway. I don't know how it would work in the soil instead of on the plant but it seems like it might burn roots the same way it burns leaves. Do a search for raspberries and blueberries. There was a lot of discussion last spring on how to get acid soil (something I count as normal in the PNW). We treat Rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and blues and raspberries with the same stuff.

Deborah....who did not realize that there was ANYTHING that wouldn't grow better in California.

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  LaFee on 12/21/2010, 5:48 am

Me too, neither.

I've always just used a commercial soil additive...they might or might not be organic, but I'm guessing you're not planning on eating that azalea anyway...(and make sure it's in the shade...they HATE to be in the sun)

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  acara on 12/21/2010, 7:03 am

You can make side dressing for azaleas yourself. It's just 4 parts old (dry)coffee grounds, 1 part bone meal & 1 part granite dust (4cup/1cup/1cup makes enough to easily do a 8 or 10' hedge run).

Mix in a bowl and apply lightly/evenly around the base and water in.

That should keep your chemistry & nurients in spec.

I would have concerns with using the vinegar on the plants ....... I've seen that used by folks as a herbicide also.

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  donnainzone5 on 12/21/2010, 10:37 am

I recently attempted to save a hybridized rhododendron by dousing the soil with vinegar. I uprooted the dying plant and plan to return it to its former spot in a few weeks.

I've heard that evergreen needles are a fine acidic mulch that eventually will break down into the soil. This is the time of year to stock up! Also, extra peat moss and sulphur may help over time. Another thought is oak leaf mold.


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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 12/31/2010, 12:23 am

@Chopper wrote:Our soil here is very alkaline but I planted an azalea anyway. It is looking a bit pekid (peaked?? sp?). And of course I have a hard time keeping the acid balance it needs. I was wondering if I watered with a dilute vinegar solution once a week if it might help. Any feedback on this?

Couple of questions...

- Do you have it in a mostly shady spot? I'm sure you know this, but azaleas LOVE shade. They grow in the understory of Appalachian pine forests.

- Do you have them in a huge supply of peat moss? That and pine straw, their natural soil material, acidifies the soil as it either leeches the water or decomposes...not that peat moss decomposes.

At least that's what I've always read. Peat moss drains super well, too, as you know.

Azaleas can be real pains in the tooshie to establish. Once you get them going, they are pretty hardy. But, for that reason, I would also start with a 3gal size at a minimum.

edit: Oh, and so you know.....Chopper is MY online nickname usually. But, you were here first...lol. Yours is likely different, but for some reason my college buddies and I were watching Stand By Me and I did something that apparently reminded them of the junkyard dog......and it stuck.


Last edited by middlemamma on 12/31/2010, 3:13 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Just cleaning up some French ;) We have to keep the forum family friendly :))

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  Chopper on 12/31/2010, 12:55 am

I have it on the north side of the house against the porch and it only gets occasional afternoon sun in the summer. Otherwise all shade. When I planted it a few years ago I added a lot of peat and it was fine for awhile. I feed it azalea food. It has that stressed look. Lots of yellowing in the leaves although it bloomed beautifully this year.

I think the alkaline soil is overpowering the acid micro-area I made for it. Perhaps the copious rains we just had will help - acid rain I hope? Clearing out a year's worth of LA related smog?

I just thought a very dilute vinegar water might be appreciated. I have no money for soil additives right now and no access to pine or peat that is free as of now. Vinegar, I got.

Other than the yellow, it looks OK. It is now established but needs a little help, I think.

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  GardenZen on 12/31/2010, 12:58 am

I've got pine needles out the wazoo, wonder what the shipping would be?! Shocked

I don't have the money for azaleas now, but I love those plants.

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  Chopper on 12/31/2010, 1:00 am

I was thinking of planting a pine in the backyard just for the needles. Another project that will have to wait!

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Leaf yellowing

Post  ander217 on 12/31/2010, 2:57 am

Chopper, could your plant just be preparing for a normal leaf drop? Some azalea varieties normally lose their leaves after a couple of years, some varieties every three or four years. If it's that, usually you'll see the lower leaves turn yellow first.

Azaleas don't like too much water. Maybe they're complaining about the extra rain you've been having.

I'm no expert. I've tried growing azaleas repeatedly under an oak tree but so far none have survived. It sounds as though you are far ahead of me in experience. I've read a lot, though, trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Good luck with solving your problem.

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  Chopper on 12/31/2010, 3:58 am

Who knows? LOL. They were yellow before the rain and they have not turned yellow in the past before leaf drop. They are evergreen here although they drop leaves regularly. So, we shall see. They are fussy, that is for sure. I am a little surprised that it has lasted this well this long.

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  Megan on 12/31/2010, 4:23 am

Interesting. Azaleas grow almost like weeds around here; they are extremely common in landscaping and they really pop out in late spring when they start blooming. My next door neighbor has one by his front door that has done quite well for 10 years now.

When I tested my soil this spring, it came out fairly pH neutral...BUT that was my Mel's Mix I was testing, not the good ol' VIrginia red clay, which is much more acidic.

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  Lavender Debs on 12/31/2010, 8:30 am

Same for us Megan. My heart is just aching for Chopper and her poor baby. She sorta sounds like us who struggle for a couple of home grown tomatoes while the rest of the tomato growing world struggles to put theirs up and give them away. Such is the love of gardening I guess.

Deborah....whose heart is with Chopper!

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Re: Acid loving plants

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 12/31/2010, 11:58 am

I figured you knew my suggestions, Chopper. But, I will add another thing...

Mine yellowed almost every year due to some kind of stress, too. Sometimes winter. Sometimes summer. But, they came back every year for me. I even went so far to call our Botanical garden when some leaves dropped, as I only planted one deciduous variety...the others were "evergreen." They told me to be patient and not to worry. I took their advice and got the best bloom ever last spring.

Heck, gramma fell off the short porch one winter and blew one of them up to where we thought for sure it was a goner. But, it, too, came back with a vengence.

If yours are a few years old already, I wouldn't worry too much about it right now. Let time play itself out.

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Re: Acid loving plants

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