Shrubs for acidic soil
Some of the best and most popular shrubs for an acid soil are camellia, pieris, hydrangea and magnolia. Camellias offer flamboyant flowers in shades of pink, red and white above attractive, glossy evergreen foliage. Their blooms come in a range of forms from single to fully double and anemone to rose and are produced in early spring for Camellia Japonica and late autumn for Camellia Sasanqua varieties. Pieris is the archetypal shrub for oriental style gardens, producing beautiful clusters of lantern-shaped, pink or white spring flowers. Pieris are evergreen shrubs which naturally form an attractive, bushy shape without any pruning with spirally-arranged, leathery leaves and fiery red new growth in spring, perfect for the border, patio container, tub or woodland garden. Hydrangeas are real showstoppers for acidic borders or containers in an ericaceous compost. They produce distinctive large flower heads in shades of white, pink, red and blue from July through September, just when the shrub border is so often short of flowers. Magnolias are instantly recognisable with beautiful, goblet-shaped blooms, produced on bare stems in spring before the leaves. They’re perfect for creating an instant impact, as standalone, specimen shrubs or small trees, either in the ground or a container.
Other excellent but sometimes lesser thought of shrubs for acidic soils are ceanothus, cornus, witch hazel, pyracantha, skimmia and syringa. Ceanothus has attractive, thimble-like clusters of blue flowers in spring or summer; cornus shrubs are deciduous and grown for their stunning, vibrant bark colours; and witch hazel has unusual, intricate spidery flowers in fiery shades of reds, oranges and yellows on bare stems in the winter. Pyracantha is grown for its spiny stems and glossy berries, perfect for creating an intruder-proof perimeter hedge; skimmia are neat, compact, shade-loving evergreen shrubs which are one of the first to welcome in the spring with pinkish-red buds in March and April that burst into masses of tiny, creamy-white flowers; and syringa or lilac plants, are deciduous shrubs or small trees producing highly fragrant, upright panicles of lilac-pink or white spring flowers. Rhododendrons, azaleas and heathers also of course thrive on acidic ground and are covered under separate category pages. We generally recommend choosing types of plants that are well suited to the acidity of your soil, rather than trying to change it. Any change to acidity will be temporary and need to be repeated. See our article on understanding your soil for ways to check the acidity of your soil.