The Q&A Archives: Need help identifying problems with soil

Question: I have several planting beds around my home, and I would love to grow sunflowers or other hearty, quick growing flowers - but I can only get a few plants to thrive (spider plants, wandering jew) The soil is very sandy and our home is surrounded by Oleander and Cedar Trees. Is it possible the soil PH is affected by all the leaves and all that messy stuff that falls off the Cedar trees? I have tried growing from seeds and planting larger plants (marigolds, rock roses, etc) but they just wither and die. I have noticed if I add the planting bed soil in a potted plant, the potted plant dies - even if it was thriving prior to the change of soil. I am certain I need amend the soil if I want to have success, but how do I diagnose my problem? Thanks for your help.

Answer: Lisa,

I suggest you add a couple of inches of compost to the bed and mix it in well at least 6 inches deep. The area needs to get lots of sun if those flowers are to do well. After planting water the plants in well with a soluble fertilizer solution such as Miracle Gro. If this doesn't work take a plant in to your County Extension Office before it is dead and perhaps they can diagnose another problem.

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