Potting soil is one of the key elements for growing. Indeed, it contributes to the plants’ nutrient intake. The potting soil also depends on the plants’ nature since some of them like a soil rich in acid, while others prefer a non calcareous and damp soil. Heath earth is part of the category of rather acidic, non calcareous soils, but many plants like it precisely for these properties.

Heath earth is a type of potting soil that has considerable advantages. With the help of the limestone and silica that it contains, heath earth allows plants to lengthen their flowering period by up to 10 months. The greatest feature of heath earth is its amazing ability to quickly warm up while simultaneously providing ventilation to the plants’ roots. Another advantage of heath earth is its components natural make-up because, as its name suggests, it largely comes from heather. It may also contain leaf and root remains. That is why its fertilizing qualities are second to none. Among the heather plants we can include flowers such as camellias, azaleas and Japanese maple of which the colours and scents are exceptional. In addition, all the flower beds grown on such potting soil can also be referred to as heath earth.

Obtaining heath earth

Heath earth contains a lot of humus and is also rich in fibre. These characteristics allow it to be permeable to heat and water. Many specialized shops can advise you if you decide to buy your heath earth in a gardening shop. However, it is also possible to make some on your own. Indeed, since heath earth is not only composed of heather, other ingredients can be added to enrich it. Coming from the moors’ undergrowth, it is made of leaves, twigs, roots and a layer of soil rich in silica. To make some, you can use beech or birch leaves, as well as those of other various trees, and you can also add compost. Once these elements are all brought together, the mixture should be turned over regularly. After 1 to 2 years, this blend is ??combined with heath earth and will make an excellent moist and rich potting soil. The process can seem long and difficult but the result will be apparent.

Planting on heath earth

Some plants, such as azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons, can only survive on heath earth. However, it is important to remember that it is a potting soil, meaning that it only brings nutrients to the plant during its growth phase. Indeed, the type of soil in which it will be planted largely contributes to the plant’s development. In that regard, heath earth can adapt to various soil types, with the exception of soils rich in limestone. Thus, for in-ground planting, one must first dig a hole of approximately 24 inches (60 cm). Then work the ground a bit to make it less compact so that it absorbs water more efficiently. It is only after this step that you can fill one third of the hole with heath earth. The plant is then placed in the hole and covered up with heath earth up to ground level. For planting in trays, line the container’s bottom with a 1 to 2 inch (3 to 5 cm) drainage layer, made up of gravel, clay pebbles or sand before putting in heath earth and growing the plant. Tamp lightly and water abundantly. This applies to in-ground planting as well as planting in trays or containers.

Tips for heath earth and its maintenance

Heather plants are more comfortable in a cool and shady place. Even if they adapt to many soil types, do not forget to water them thoroughly on a regular basis to maintain their moisture level. Indeed, heath earth has difficulties retaining water. Some compost and leaves should also be added each year to stimulate the plants’ development. In regard to limestone-rich soil, the best solution is to put the plants in containers in the beginning and then replant them later in the ground by removing their pots. Besides, the ideal time to plant is fall so that plants have enough time to take root. Add some ground pine bark in the spring and a little fertilizer in winter. Vary the colours while ensuring they are well-matched and do not hesitate to seek advice from professionals to guide you.

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Published in Garden maintenance by Alexander on 07 Jul 2011