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Ericaceous FAQs: our list of ericaceous plants Q&A’s


If you’re looking for compost for your acid-lovers, remember to check out our shop for great deals on bulk ericaceous compost as well as a range of other specialist compost, topsoils, supplies and more!


We love to see ericaceous plants- nothing stands out like the famously fashionable ericaceous acer or lights up a garden like an azalea. While we here at The Compost Shop have conditioning the soil for your ericaceous plants covered, there’s still a lot to know about these plants. So if you yearn for a striking Japanese maple, a rustic heather or a delicate rhododendron in your garden, read on and discover a whole new dimension to your gardening.

A (non-exhaustive!) list of ericaceous compost questions


  1. Why are they called ericaceous plants?

The name comes from Ericaceae, the name for heathers. These are classic acid-loving plants, and can create striking boundaries in your borders. Among this huge & diverse family are some surprising heathers, including some you definitely don’t picture on the typical rolling ‘heathland’- cranberry, blueberry, rhododendrons and azaleas.

  1. Can I use ericaceous compost for other plants?

It’s possible, if you mix your compost in with other compost or even lime (to neutralise the pH) and avoid using it for very chalk-loving plants. However the effort would be extensive and the results possibly unreliable. Ultimately compost stores well if kept correctly, so it would be advisable to use the correct compost as far as possible, and keep your erinaceous supply for the plants that benefit from it the most.

  1. How can I tell if I have acidic soil?

This is an important question. Using a map such as this one, from Cranfield University, can help, as can surveying the types and health of the plants that grow in your garden already. However the best way to be certain is through a reliable soil pH testing kit bought from a reputable supplier. This should give you a definite picture of your soil condition and if you conduct all three of these steps you’ll be in a good position to judge your soil condition accurately.

  1. Can soil pH change?

This would not happen naturally, however there are ways in which humans can adjust the profile of patches of soil to grow particular plants- at the simplest, most localised end of the scale is using something like ericaceous compost to plant a small shrub in a pot or pocket in the ground. On the other end of the scale is perhaps widespread liming of the soil by farms, or adding minerals or chemicals to adjust pH in favour of certain crops. Indeed, over 50 years the government of the Cerrado region of Brazil transformed their agriculture thanks to up to 25 million tonnes of lime per year being spread on fields, boosting soybean production to feed cattle and export.

  1. What happens if I plant something in the wrong pH soil?

Many plants show symptoms of poor growth when planted in the wrong soil: the minerals in the soil obstruct healthy uptake of nutrients. Unhealthy, yellow-colour leaves, weak growth and poor root development will make it clear your plants aren’t doing as well as they could. Many people misinterpret these as symptoms of disease, which can unfortunately lead to the same mistakes being made over and over again.

If you have any more questions about ericaceous compost, or the ways in which it can benefit your garden, speak to our team or check out our ericaceous compost information page.