Planting in Dry and Alkaline Areas

I have been finding plants in the nursery that need to be planted out while the soil is still reasonably warm. There are quite a few, including some very neglected Eucalypts. Thought I would do a list in the blog of plants for our dry situation here. The average rainfall here is 330mm or 13 1/4 inches. Mostly winter falls, and often not heavy at any one time. When we get more than 20 points (5mm) in a day it is a time for rejoicing. We had 40 points last Thursday and the benefit can be seen immediately.

The soil here is mostly very alkaline. Some areas of the town and outlying districts go down to neutral. The soil structure  is quite good apart from patches of ‘non wetting’ or water repellant sand. It is the limestone rubble that is the problem. At least the drainage is good. None of the books will say what plants will adapt to these highly alkaline soil conditions. In fact there are many plants which will grow happily in alkaline soil, even though the books do not say this. It is the highly alkaline soil which makes life a little more difficult. It has to be a trial and error situation. So my list will reflect what I know to be true.

It is worth getting the soil tested. A test kit costs something like $25 and will last for years. If there is an opportunity to have soil tested at a plant sale, take advantage of the offer. Sometimes plants which are acid soil lovers will grow in alkaline soil, even if not to the ultimate size that is listed. Others will look very yellow and deteriorate. There are remedies which will improve this, like iron chelates or sulphur watered in to the soil surrounding the plant. Follow the directions  on the container.

In poorly drained soil it is worth raising the level of the soil by creating small catchment areas and adding the soil to one side in the form of a mound. Planting on the mound will make an amazing difference to some plants. I have heard that the raised area will also decrease the effects that high alkalinity has on some plants.

I will begin the list tomorrow.


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