Preparing A Spot For Daphne

Q: I saw a video of you extolling the virtues of mixing sand, clay, organic matter, bone meal, etc. when preparing a spot for daphne. But I’ve heard that clay mixed with sand equals concrete. How about perlite instead? 

A: There is some debate these days on whether it is ever necessary to amend soil before planting. In my view, as long as the hole is as wide as the mature root system of a shrub, amending the soil in that spot gives the shrub a lot of advantages. Shrubs like daphne, Japanese azalea, most boxwoods, etc. grow fine when the soil is amended as I described. With larger shrubs like Burford holly, arborvitae, cleyera, etc., it’s not practical to dig a wide hole for each
one. In those cases, you’re better off simply loosening the soil around the planting spot as widely as you can and omitting amendments. But to your question, coarse, gritty sand is always my preference, never play sand. Perlite is problematic because it floats on the soil surface during rain and blows around afterward.

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