Reading Time: 4 minutes 🍃
Hostas are sought after because they have beautiful foliage, and when they bloom, they have scented flowers. They are popular as low-growing foliage and come in many different colors and textures. Hostas flower in the summer with purple or white flowers on tall stems, but they are best known for their leaves.
Hostas do best in soil with a pH of 6.5, but you can grow them in ericaceous compost. The ideal compost is John Innes No. 3, but peat-free multipurpose or loam-based potting compost can be used. This plant needs good drainage but moisture-retaining soil that is fertile.
Continue reading to learn all about growing hostas and ericaceous compost.
Can Hostas Grow in Acidic Soil?
The ideal pH for hostas is 6.5, but you can grow them in slightly acidic or slightly alkaline soil. They prefer soil that retains water and is very fertile. You can improve heavy clay or sandy soils by adding organic matter.
You can plant them near a pond because they can handle the extra moisture. You should ensure that the compost doesn’t dry out when you use it. You can use ericaceous compost, especially if the soil is too alkaline. Ericaceous compost is acidic, with a pH between 4.0 and 5.0, so it will lower the pH of the soil.
How to Plant Hostas
You should always improve the soil with organic matter. Start by testing your soil to find out the pH level. You can order a home pH test, or you can call a lab to come in and test it for you. Take a few different samples and mix them together to get a more accurate reading.
Once you know the pH, you will know whether you should add ericaceous compost. If you find that the soil is too alkaline, you can use this type of compost to lower the pH. Make sure that you water the compost thoroughly and then let it drain before you plant the hostas.
Once you establish the hostas, they do really well on their own. You need to make sure that the compost doesn’t dry out, and you can add fertilizer each spring. You can mulch the compost each year with organic compost.
What Happens If You Plant Hostas in Acidic Soil?
Hostas are tolerant of different pH levels. The main concern is when the pH is too high, in particular, higher than 8.0. In that case, the nutrients are no longer soluble in water, so the plant can’t absorb them or draw them up through their roots.
The ideal pH is slightly acidic or under 7.0. The best way to bring the pH level of the soil down is to use ericaceous compost. Hostas can handle some acid, so you don’t have to worry if your soil is a little bit acidic.
What Is Ericaceous Compost?
Ericaceous compost is any compost with a lower pH. It is slightly acidic, and it was originally made for acid-loving plants from the Ericaceae family. It has a pH between 4.0 and 5.0, whereas normal compost is usually between 6.0 and 8.0.
You can mix ericaceous compost with the soil to lower the pH level. This is important if you are planting acid-loving plants or if your soil is too alkaline. You can’t use ericaceous compost with all plants because different plants have different needs.
In general, you will find that soil is usually slightly acidic to neutral. In areas that have a lot of rain, the pH usually ranges from 5.0 to 7.0. In dry areas, the pH has a wider range between 6.5 and 9.0. When the soil has a pH of 9.0, it is alkaline, and you can use ericaceous compost to reduce the pH level.
You Can Make Ericaceous Compost
Because ericaceous compost is a term for any compost with an acidic pH level, you can make it with acidic organic matter. When making your compost pile, you can add high-acid organic materials, such as pine needles, oak leaves, coffee grounds, wood chips from conifers, sand, and more.
When you use ericaceous compost in your soil, it will lower the pH as it decomposes. Once it finishes decomposing, you will need to add more, or the pH will start rising again. You can also use ericaceous compost as a mulch for your acid-loving plants.
Types of Hostas
Most hostas are low-growing, and they form clumps. They are perennial plants, and they are chosen for their leaves. The foliage colors vary, ranging from pale yellow to blue-green. They also differ by shape. Most of the time, hostas are categorized by size.
Miniature hostas are smaller than 9 inches tall at maturity, and small plants range from 9 to 15 inches. Plants between 16 and 21 inches are referred to as medium, and large are those that are between 22 and 29 inches tall. Finally, there are giant plants that are 30 or more inches tall.
No matter what size they are, they prefer the same growing conditions. Different species have different leaves, but they also prefer the same growing conditions. Once they are established, they will continue growing without a lot of help. They are easy to propagate and share because you can start a new plant with a small piece of the root.
Check out: Coffee Grounds for Hostas
If you are interested in growing hostas, you may wonder if you can grow them in ericaceous compost. Hostas prefer soil that ranges from a pH of 6.5 to 7.5, but they can be grown in ericaceous compost because they tolerate some acidity.
The most important thing is to make sure that the soil has good drainage, but hostas do well in most types of soil. They like it to be rich and fertile, and you should give them a lot of organic matter. They prefer moist soil but don’t let it get soggy. Once this plant is established, it doesn’t require a lot of attention.