Alkaline Soils – Your Acid Loving Plants Won’t Do Well Here

With new residents arriving here from both coasts every day, we get many inquiries about growing azaleas, camellias or peonies. Sorry folks, but these plants just won’t grow in beautiful San Antonio.

The main culprit: alkaline soil. Some plants grow in acidic soils and others grow in alkaline soils. But rare is the plant that will grow in both. Weather is also a factor. Plummeting winter temperatures combined with hot, humid summertime air create a most inhospitable environment for many non-native species.

To help salve the bitter wound of not being able to grow your favorite plant, let me suggest a few alternatives:

If you like: Try:
Azaleas Bougainvilleas
Bluegrass Buffalo grass
Camellias Pittosporum or Viburnum “Lord Byron”
Hostas Variegated ginger or Persian shield
Hydrangeas “Moy Grande” (perennial hibiscus)
Peonies Marie Pavie or Belinda’s Dream roses
Red maples Bigtooth maple (a Texas native)
Tulips Narcissus species (daffodils)

South Texas weather may not be favorable for many traditional landscape species, but we can offer striking substitutes. Let’s start some new traditions!

Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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