Rhododendrons: rhododendron hydrangea fertilizer

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by joZ, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. joZ

    joZ Active Member

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    Just a couple questions as I am a bit confused about...

    1) What is the difference in composition between a good fertilizer for rhodos and azaleas versus one for hydrangeas?

    2) I have a variety of combinations in close proximity to one another. I have never fertilized my hydrangeas, but have some fertilizer (pellet form) that I bought specifically for the rhodos and azaleas. Can I use it on my hydrangea? If not, what should I use?

    3) I also have a 12+ foot queen elizabeth rose quite close to all 3... what happens when one throws liquid rose nourishment into the mix? On top of all that, what is the effect on my hostas?
     
  2. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    rhody's (which includes rhody's and azalea's) like acidic soil.

    hydrangea do okay in that...and, if you have the type that the flower color can change based on soil, then you'll see blue to purple blooms on it.

    roses like slightly acidic soil.

    i wouldn't be too worried about the rose food leaching over to the other bushes...it'll do something for them...probably not all that much though.

    roses don't like extremely acidic soil...they're one of those plants that are just over the mark from neutral to acid. so, i'd be worried about the fertilizer for the rhody's leaching over to the rose.

    since what you have for the rhody's is pellets, you can better control where it goes - i'd just go light on the side the butts up against the rose bush...once the pellets start to dissolve, if the water flow is in the roses' direction, you might see something happening.

    you can safely use the rhody food on the hydrangea.

    can't help with the hosta's - i don't have them and know nothing about them.
     
  3. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Does rhododendron fertilizer change the soil pH ?
     
  4. joZ

    joZ Active Member

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    Joclyn, thanks for the feedback. I would prefer not to have to go out and buy additional "food" for the hydrangeas.

    Another question along the same lines... If all these plants like somewhat acidic soil... would adding coffee grounds (and/or brewed coffee) be an alternative?
     
  5. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    @ chimera - fertilizer doesn't 'change' the soil, per se...it provides nutrients based on certain formula's and will wash away over time so it's only a temporary thing. the formula's are based on the individual plants needs...like if they do better, naturally, in acidy conditions or if they prefer alkaline. some fertilizers are 'neutral' for all three of the figures...so they can generally be used on all your plants. if you are going to go the route of fertilizing, it is, usually, better to get something specific for the plant. different numbers mean different things and have different results...and i can't, at the moment, remember what each one means and is for...so, going with an all-purpose type is never a bad idea...some plants have very specific needs (like the rhody's) and do need something that isn't so 'general'.

    to actually 'change' the soil, you'd need to amend it. which is: to add something (and till it in, not just leave on top) that modifies the composition of the soil. for example, to amend clay soil you would add in manure (which changes the ph level and adds nutrients for the plants) and some sand (for drainage).

    sandy soil would need soil and manure added to make it not so porous.

    putting mulch down also can amend the soil...if you turn it over and work it in every spring, that is. otherwise, whatever change happens due to the decaying of the mulch will just stay on the top layer of the soil (and won't really have an effect on most of the plants - especially those that have deep roots.

    @ jo - i agree, i don't like buying a ton of things either! i use an all-purpose fertilizer for my houseplants and i can mix it stronger to use outdoors as well. i've only gotten a couple specific fertilizers...for orchids, african violets and roses.

    you know what, though? i've only used the rose food when i planted the roses...i always forgotten to add it again later! the houseplants i DO remember to fertilize...since they're in confined space, they really do need it.

    for the outdoor stuff, i really haven't bothered fertilizing at all - except for when i initially plant something. my hydrangea are doing well (the plus there is the soil is already just what they prefer) and the rest of the stuff, all are things that do well in this zone and/or are native plants to this area...so, there again, the soil is already what they do well in.

    yes, the coffee grounds are good for the roses...i'd guess they'd do well by the rhody and hydrangea as well.

    if your soil isn't completely ideal for the plants, i would recommend using something specific for the individual plants....especially for things like rhodys, roses and holly. that said, you've got something now (and it is specific). i'd just water it down a bit for the hydrangea since their acidic needs aren't quite as strong as the rhody's. if you have a liquid, that's really, really easy to do...just use half the usual amount when adding to water. if you've got pellets, again, easy enough...i'd use 1/3 less pellets for the hydrangea.

    the package may even have some instructions for using that particular product on other plants (and would list the other plants it would be helpful too, too).

    you can always start up a compost pile, too! leaves, grass clippings, some manure (either fresh stuff if you have access or the bagged stuff), already brewed coffee grounds, table scraps (vegy and fruit stuff), egg shells, etc...kept in a sunny spot, added to regularly and moistened when it is dry and kept well-turned so it decomposes and you'll have useable medium in a year or so.
     
  6. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Ok, thanks for the clarification.
     

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