Soil can have pH values of alkaline, neutral or acidic. Certain plants are designed to thrive in all types; however, if a plant cannot tolerate its soil, it is destined to fail. Don’t go through the hassle of trial and error. Always test the soil before planting, and if its acidic, choose plants for that type of soil.
Stokes Aster, or Stokesia laevis, is from the Asteraceae/Compositae, or aster/daisy, family. It is an easy-growing, evergreen perennial. Flowers are long lasting and come in the spring. The plant grows 1 to 2 feet tall with flowers 3 to 4 inches wide in blue, pink, white or lavender. Plant in acidic soil that hasn’t had lime added. Full sun is needed with plenty of waterings. Propagate a Stokes Aster by root clump division in winter or spring.
Sweet pepperbush, or Clethra alnifolia, is from the Clethraceae, or sweet pepperbush, family. It is an easy-growing, fragrant plant that will attract butterflies. This shrub grows 4 to 8 feet tall with white flowers that have a sweet and spicy scent. Leaves are 2 to 3 inches long and serrated. Plant in acidic soil that hasn’t had lime added. It will need full sun or shade and moist soil. Propagate a sweet pepperbush by stem cuttings in summer, seeds or division of the root mass.
Cinnamon fern, or Osmunda cinnamomea, is from the Osmundaceae, or cinnamon fern, family. It is a perennial. The fronds grow 3 to 5 feet tall and are compound. This fern likes partial shade and moist, rich acidic soils. It is a long-lived plant. Propagate via division of clumps or by spores.
Piedmont azalea, or Rhododendron canescens, is from the Ericaceae, or heath, family. It is a fragrant shrub that will attract butterflies to the garden. This plant grows up to 6 to 15 feet tall and the same in width. Leaves are 1 to 3 inches long with fragrant pink flowers 2 to 3 inches long. Plant a piedmont azalea in acidic soil and in any sunlight conditions. Propagate via root cuttings in summer or clump division.
Clevera, or Ternstroemia gymnanthera, is from the Theaceae, or tea, family. It is an evergreen shrub and grows 8 to 10 feet high, with 6 feet of width. Flowers are white with oval berries. Clevera prefers well-drained acidic soil with part sun or shade. Propagate via cuttings in summer or seed in spring.