8KCAB
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:13 pm
Location: California

Bottlebrush in Alkali Soil

Hello! I'm a new member here. I wish I had learned more about gardening before I did the following:

1 1/2 years ago, I planted 90 lemon bottlebrush (calistimon) around my place for a privacy screen. They did OK, growing from 12" to over 3'. Then, last month, they began dying. I had a local outfit test my soil, and it came back at a pH of 8.4 to 10.1! They need 4.5 to 7.5. I augered (5) 1 1/2" holes around each plant down 12" for fertilizer and 24" for gravel. I am now broadcasting and watering in sulfur - this was all advice from a local supply store.

My question is, does anyone think they have a chance of survival? And, if not, what would be a good replacement? I need them to be evergreen, very alkali-tolerant, grow to 8', and be non-toxic to horses. I need about 900' worth of screen, so they need to grow wide, too. Oh, did I mention the soil is clay and extemely poorly-draining?

Thanks for any help!

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rainbowgardener
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Since no one else has responded, I'll do my best...

I don't know if your bottlebrush will survive, that's a wait and see. But changing the pH of your soil is a difficult proposition. If it works at all, you will likely have to keep adding more sulfur, peat moss, etc every year as your soil keeps reverting to its natural state. I also have alkaline clay soil (in the range 8 - 8.5 mostly, 10 is pretty amazing!). There are some things, acid lovers, that I just can't grow no matter how much I try amending it. They limp along for a year or two being tortured to death and ultimately die...

Here's a list of plants that do well in alkaline soils:

https://www.demesne.info/Garden-Help/Solutions/Soil/Alkaline-Soils.htm

it includes junipers, hollies, pittosporum, boxwood and others..
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

8KCAB
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:13 pm
Location: California

Thank you very much. At least I can make a plan in case they fail! It's strange, because I would say 50% are doing well. I bought them in 1 gallon size, about 12" tall, and they are over 4' now. But when they go, they go fast. Thanks again!

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