Question: I have a flower bed area with very acid soil (pH 4.5). Are there any flowers that will do well in this bed, or should I sweeten the soil with lime first? I really like the English cottage garden look.
Answer: Most cottage garden flowers prefer a pH that is closer to neutral (6.0-6.5), so you'll need to raise the pH with limestone. However, it can take several months for the limestone to fully activate, and may take annual applications over several years to alter the pH to the preferred level.
As long as your soil has average fertility, and maintains moisture well, these heat-tolerant flowers and herbs should do well in your cottage garden:
Perennials: daylilies (Hemerocallis), hollyhocks (Alcea), geraniums (Pelargonium), Osteospermum, evening primrose (Oenothera), society garlic (Tulbaghia), giant hyssop (Agastache), verbena, chrysanthemums, globe mallow (Sphaeralcea), owl's clover (Orthocarpus), purple coneflower (Echinacea).
Culinary Herbs: Perennials: rosemary, salvia, chamomile (Roman & German), lemon balm (Melissa), savory (Satureja). Annual herbs: coriander, basil.
Annual flowers: cleome, cosmos, zinnia, creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia), four o'clocks (Mirabilis), scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus), marigolds (Tagetes), and nasturtium (Tropaelum).
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