Conifer plants for alkaline soil

Alkaline or “sweet” soils are those with a pH of more than 7. This is commonly caused by a high content of limestone or chalk, which may also result in the soil being free draining and lower in nutrients than neutral, loamy soils. The best type of conifer for alkaline soils is juniper, known for their use in the production of gin, which is made from the berries. Juniper conifers are well-loved evergreens, perfect for brightening up the winter garden. They have small, narrow, needle-like foliage in shades of blue, green or gold with silvery bands on the inner side and curving slightly to a prickly point. Juniperus plants, to use their Latin name, have greyish-brown bark which peels away with age, giving an attractive rustic appearance. They're long-lived and produce masses of fleshy, aromatic, berry-like cones. These start off green before maturing to purple-black over the course of about 18 months and are best collected from September to December. Birds love indulging on the berries, making Juniper conifers ideal for attracting wildlife to your garden, as well as providing dense cover for nesting. Whilst you could try to change the pH of your alkaline soil by adding sulphur or ammonium, the effect this has is only temporary, so needs to be repeated over time. For this reason we normally recommend growing plants that will naturally succeed in the soil you have, rather than constantly battling to change it.

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