The Q&A Archives: Acid-loving Perennials

Question: Our weekend house yard has acid soil. The death of about 15 hemlock trees has left us with an open lot that gets partial shade with some sunny areas. I would like to plant with some perenials and some annuals. We would also like to plant some fast growing bushes/shrubs that will provide some privacy from our neighbors. What would you recommend? Barbara Goullet New York, NY

Answer: My first suggestion is to have your soil tested. You state that your soil is acid. How acidic is it? Most plants tolerate a wide range of soil pH (6.0-6.8). Your local nursery should be able to tell you where to have this done. The pH tests one can buydo not give an accurate pH, merely an approximation. You can also request that levels of organic matter be determined as well as mineral content. Then you will have a better idea of the soil you are working with. Given this, I suspect that you have a wide range of plants from which to choose. Some suggestions for partial shade... Annuals-violets, lobelia, nicotiana, primula, torenia, forget-me-not, Perennials-hosta, phlox stolenifera, pulmonaria, epimedium, anemone, columbine. Shrubs for privacy-Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), five-leaved aralia (Acanthopanax), dwarf winged euonymus, Amur privet (Ligustrum amurense), Regel privet(Ligustrum obtusifolium regelianum), Truehedge columnberry (Berberis thunbergii erecta). You have not stated where your weekend house is so I'm not sure what cold hardiness zone applies. These plants may or may not be cold hardy enough to survive..

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