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Begonias are among the most attractive plants out there, they’re known for their aesthetic and rich foliage and colorful flowers that have a long blooming season, usually extending throughout the summer.
Providing extra care yields vibrant and flashy flowers despite being a hardy plant. So can you use ericaceous compost for begonias?
Most begonia species will thrive in acidic soil with a pH of around 5.5 to 6.0. Since ericaceous compost is relatively acidic, using it with begonias is highly recommended. In addition to adjusting the soil’s pH, the compost will supply the plant with nutrients.
If you want to learn more about growing begonias with ericaceous compost, this guide will cover all the necessary points you must remember!
Is Ericaceous Compost Good for Begonias?
Although there are plenty of begonia species out there, the vast majority, if not all of them, will thrive in relatively acidic soil.
Ideally, popular begonia species will prefer soil with a pH range of around 5.5 to 6.0. Since ericaceous compost is known for being slightly acidic with a pH level of 4.0 to 5.0, you can use them as suitable compost for the begonia.
In addition to adjusting the pH of the soil, using ericaceous compost with the begonia plant will offer a wide range of benefits.
For starters, ericaceous compost has a lot of necessary nutrients that will directly help enrich the soil.
Additionally, ericaceous compost will promote the production of all soil flora (beneficial bacteria and fungi) that will break down more organic matter and make the soil highly nutritious.
It also helps retain the plant’s moisture level and prevents the spread of undesirable weeds, pests, and diseases.
What Happens When Begonias Are Planted in Alkaline Soil?
Although many acid-loving plants will outright die in alkaline soil, many begonia species are remarkably hardy and can tolerate various soil conditions.
As a result, if you planted your begonias in alkaline soil, they may survive. However, you shouldn’t expect them to thrive or bloom vibrant flowers in such conditions.
With that said, different species of begonia will have different growing conditions.
Here’s a helpful video that will walk you through some of the most beautiful begonia flower species and the growing conditions for each one.
How to Properly Use Ericaceous Compost with Begonias
Ericaceous compost will give you the best results when applied right, so here’s a quick guide that shows you how to use it properly with begonias:
- Start by testing your soil’s pH level to have a reference for your natural soil’s pH
- Add some compost to the soil and mix it thoroughly to spread it equally, but avoid over-fertilization damage.
- Measure the pH of the soil again. Using sulfur power to acidify the soil if the pH exceeds 5.5 to 6.0. If it’s below, use baking soda to increase the pH.
- Once the pH level is right, add a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch on top of the soil (you can use the (ericaceous compost itself as mulch).
- Check the pH of the soil regularly and replenish the compost when the nutrients are used up.
How Often Should Your Water Begonias with Ericaceous Compost?
Begonia is one of the plants that thrive in soil that isn’t dry but also not too wet that it gets waterlogged.
This is because, like many acid-loving plants, begonia has a relatively small root network. This means that the plant can easily dry out if the soil gets too dry.
For that reason, the ideal frequency for begonia is to water them regularly around twice a week or every 4 days.
However, as previously mentioned, using a suitable ericaceous compost has the added benefit of retaining the moisture of the soil better than without using it.
As such, it’s usually recommended that you test out the top soil before watering the plant to avoid serious complications like root rot.
You can do this by dipping your finger and only watering the plant if the top 1.5 inches of the soil is not moist anymore.
For more accurate results, you can use a soil moisture tester kit, which also measures the soil pH and light access as a plus!
What Kind of Fertilizer Should You Use with Begonias?
Begonias thrive when fertilized properly. You typically need a well-balanced fertilizer, such as 20-20-20 blends. Make sure that the fertilizer is slow releasing to avoid the risk of nutrient burns.
Since ericaceous compost is quite nutritious, you won’t need to apply as much fertilizer to the soil.
The ideal time for feeding the plant is usually around summer because it’s the time when the plant grows the most.
Can You Use Ericaceous Compost with Potted Begonias?
Ericaceous compost is a great choice when it comes to potted begonias. In fact, using ericaceous compost with potted begonias may even give you better results than when using it with regular soil.
The main reason behind that is that potting soil can maintain its composition for a longer time than outdoor soil.
Since the soil isn’t mixed with the rest of the garden bed, the compost retains its properties and pH for longer. Therefore, you won’t need to replenish it as much.
Additionally, the integrity of the soil after rain and strong wind is better maintained in pots than in open soil.
As for begonias, they usually thrive in light shade or afternoon sun, so they’re protected from the harsh midday sunlight when they’re potted indoors.
This wraps it up for today’s guide that walks you through everything you need to know about using ericaceous compost with begonias.
As you can see, begonias are acid-loving plants that will thrive in relatively acidic soil. With that said, ericaceous compost can sometimes be too acidic for the plant, so you always need to adjust the soil’s pH accordingly.