West Carlston Garden Centre, Campsie Road, Torrance, Glasgow G64 4EZ, Tel: 01360 620248
 

Chalky or Alkaline Soil

Chalk consists of lime which is alkaline - many plants do not like alkaline soil.
Lime interferes with the uptake of various minerals, particularly Iron.
These "lime hating" plants will not thrive and may even die if grown in chalky soil.
"Lime hating" plants like an Acid soil in order to thrive and are known as "acid loving" or ericaceous plants.
Chalky soils are unusual in Scotland but what is common is localised patches of alkaline soil round old buidings that were once whitewashed with lime.

It is not really practical to cure chalky soil permanently. The usual treatments are:
1. Add sequestered iron to about once a year to compensate for the iron locked up by the alkaline chalk.
2. In past times rusty pieces of iron would be buried in the soil to increase the available iron.
3. Sulphur chips can be added to soil to help release the locked up iron.
4. Adding generous amounts of well rotted manure will help lower the pH
5. Peat is acidic and if added in quantity will help lower the pH.

Lime tolerant plants:
(I must stress "lime tolerant" as few plants actually thrive in lime)
Most lime tolerant plants will grow in acid soil, the converse is not true.
This is not intended as an exhaustive list, rather some examples
Bay Ceanothus Ceratostigma Clematis
Chamomile Cornflowers Cytisus Daphne
Echinacea Euonymus Euphorbia Fennel
Genista Hypericum Lavender Ligustrum (privet)
Lisianthus Mahonia Poppies Rosemary
Rudbeckia Spiraea Stachyurus Weigela
Wisteria      
Trees Suitable for Chalky Soil
Acer Aesculus

Allanthus

Betula
Carpinus Catalpa Cotylus Crataegus
Davidia Fagus Fraxinus Gleditsia
Juglans Koelreuteria Laburnum Liriodendron
Malus Morus Platanus Populus
Prunus Pyrus Quercus Robinia
Salix Sorbus Tilia Ulmus
The main "lime hating plants" are:
Azaleas - most Blueberry Camelia Gaultheria
Hamamelis Heathers - most Kalmia Pieris
Rhododendrons Skimmia Tree Heathers  

(some deciduous Azaleas will tolerate lime)
This is not intended as an exhaustive list, rather some examples.

Alkaline soil has a pH above 7.
Neutral pH is 7.
Acid soil has a pH of less than 7 but less than 6 is preferable for "lime hating" plants.

Click on the links below for more detailed information on problem soils
and for lists of plants to grow in them


Top Soil
Screened to remove stones
Sterilized to kill weeds
£3.49 per bag


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