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lowering PH level

I have a blue Hydrangea growing in a large tub of Ericaceous compost (it was blue when I bought it last year). The label says the PH level should be 4.5. I checked the compost and the level is 6+ and the flowers this year are red. How do I lower the PH to get it to 4.5? henlen, , Co Kildare Posted: 02/07/2017

This is difficult to do successfully, easier the other way.

See information at:  http://www.garden.ie/howtogrow.aspx?id=316

Water with rainwater as it is lime-free. 


Using Multipurpose compost for Heathers

I meant to buy an ericaceous compost in the garden centre because I need to plant some heathers, but I couldn't see any. Could I use "Multipurpose compost with added John Innes?" It says on the packet that it contains "a blend of loam, perlite, course grit, sphagnum moss peat and fertilisers." Madra, Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick Posted: 07/04/2016

Multipurpose compost has lime added, which the heathers may not want. But some kinds of heathers do not mind lime, such as the winter heathers.

Check which kind you have. If they do not mind lime, use the multipurpose but mix it well with the soil. If they need acid soil, get some ericaceous compost, the other can be used for other plants. 


sulphate of iron to lower ph of soil

Could you let me know if adding sulphate of iron to soil ( black moss type) would be of benefit when planting a hedge of pieris Mountain Fire . Breen, Omagh, Co Tyrone Posted: 24/01/2012


If the soil is already black, it is likely to be acidic but you can get an inexpensive test kit from the garden centre to confirm.

If the soil is neutral or acidic, there is no need to acidify. If above pH7, you can use 100g of sulphate of iron to help reduce lime and mulch with decayed leaves.

Although Pieris 'Mountain Fire' is one of the tougher kinds of pieris and not usually damaged by frost, there is still a risk in your inland location in Tyrone.


Privet, conifer 'wilma'

Can you help? We planted a hedge/shelter belt over 10 yearsago using the above. The Privet has been successful but is very slow growing and is now about 2 mtrs high. I would like to trim same and maintain it at this height. is this possible? Can I take cuttings & how do I propogate them? The conifers 'wilma' are very attractive but have died off graduallyone by one. As the conifers died I replaced them with the same variety only for these to die off as well. At this point I have hugh gaps in the hedge/shelter belt. Can you suggest what I could plant to replace the conifer 'wilma' that would bemore vigourous than privet and able to withstand the high winds & salt? 200420091, kilmuckridge, Co Wexford Posted: 27/04/2011


Privet is not a large-growing hedge.

The conifer might have found the soil too heavy and the salt would not help.

Holly and hornbeam would be good choices for heavy ground, though not wet, and will withstand strong winds and salt. Or try olearia on well-drained soil.


Leafy sections in Cherry Blossoms

Can you tell me why my Cherry Blossom has branches with just leaves on it? Should these be removed and if so when is the best time to do this? JaneJen, Dunmanway, Co Cork Posted: 03/05/2010


This can happen for a variety of reasons. It could be suckers from the root stock, or it could be just young shoots that have not made flower buds yet or it could be due to fungus that causes witches brooms.

The first and last can be removed.


Red hydrangeas turned pink

I bought red hydrangeas but when the flowers appeared they are pink and mauve. I know it has something to do with my soil but don't know how to fix it. I love the web site, keep up the good work. Becka, Grenagh, Co Cork Posted: 02/08/2008

If hydrangeas turned pink and mauve, it is because the soil is leaning towards
neutral pH. For red colour, apply some garden lime and feed with some potash in spring. Both of these from garden outlets, follow the instructions.



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