The Q&A Archives: What is loamy soil?

Question: I am told to plant 4" to 6" lilac roots in loamy soil. I have rocky soil with lots of stringy roots from an old tree (which was removed several years ago), weeds, etc. I have prepared a 4x4 patch and would like to prepare the soil for planting the lilac root. Will a shovel full of peat moss and cow manure suffice or can you suggest another commercial mixture readily available at nurseries?

Answer: If you want the technical definition, loamy soil is a soil type composed of a friable mixture of clay, silt, sand, and organic matter. Good loam should have at least 5 percent organic matter, which helps the soil to retain its moisture, and contributes to the never-ending process of decomposition and growth which occurs in soil. In other words, it's a good, workable, rich, well-drained garden soil. Lilacs are pretty flexible, and will adapt to other soil types, but you're on the right track with your thinking. Work lots of aged manure to soil around the planting area, not just in the planting hole, or the roots may not want to grow beyond the hole! Lilacs prefer a near-neutral soil pH, and peat acidifies soil. If the yard is surrounded by buildings made with cement and/or mortar, a little peat is a good idea. During this first growing season, it's very important to water your lilac regularly. Mulch will help with moisture retention and will add nutrients as it decays. And MOST important, make sure it gets plenty of sun, since that's what encourages the lilac to bloom. Enjoy!

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