Lemon myrtles are subtropical evergreen shrubs known for their fragrant leaves. While lemon myrtles are adaptable plants, they need the correct soil type to thrive. In this article, we’ll examine the best type of soil for lemon myrtles in your garden.
The Best Type of Soil for Lemon Myrtle
Lemon myrtle requires fertile, well-draining soils that hold some moisture. Once established, lemon myrtle trees are fairly drought-tolerant but still prefer slightly moist soil. Lemon myrtles are adaptable and can grow well in several types of soils.
Clay, loam, and silt-based soils are ideal for lemon myrtle trees. Sandy soils with added nutrients are also good for lemon myrtles. Chalky soils don’t offer enough nutrients for lemon myrtle trees, while peat-based soils hold too much moisture.
Lemon myrtles prefer slightly acidic soils that have pH levels between 5.5 and 6.5. This means that chalky soil is often too alkaline for lemon myrtle. Most neutral soils will be suitable for lemon myrtles.
How to Amend Your Soil for Lemon Myrtle
If your garden soil isn’t suitable for lemon myrtles, you can amend it to make it more compatible. Soil test kits are the easiest way to determine whether your soil suits lemon myrtles.
If you have clay soil that is too dense, mix in some sand or grit. This improves drainage and aeration but also allows the soil to retain enough moisture and nutrients. You can also add some organic matter, like compost, to the soil to improve drainage and add nutrients.
You can also change the soil’s pH level if it’s too acidic or alkaline. To make your soil more acidic, add some sulfur. To make it more alkaline, add some lime.
Many gardeners grow lemon myrtle trees to harvest the leaves, which can be used in cooking. If that’s the goal, use soils that have higher nitrogen levels. Nitrogen helps plants produce lots of bushy foliage. If you want to focus on the flowers, aim for soils with higher amounts of phosphorus.
Soil Conditions That Lemon Myrtles Experience in their Native Habitat
Lemon myrtles are native to southeastern Queensland in northeastern Australia. These beautiful trees inhabit subtropical rainforests, especially in coastal areas. Lemon myrtles (Backhousia citriodora) usually grow in soils enriched with plenty of nutrients from fallen leaves.
Lemon myrtles grow best in USDA Zones 10 and 11. As such, they thrive in warm, tropical climates with mild winters. Lemon myrtle grows between 20 and 25 feet high and approximately 3 to 15 feet wide in their native habitat.
Different Soil Types Explained
Varying types of soils have different properties and suit different kinds of plants. There are six main types of garden soils, each providing different levels of aeration, drainage, and nutrients. The six main types of soil are:
- Chalky soils
- Clay soils
- Loamy soils
- Peat soils
- Sandy soils
- Silty soils
The looser the soil is, the more drainage and aeration it provides at the cost of fewer nutrients. The denser the soil is, the more water and nutrients it can hold. However, dense soils provide poor drainage and aeration.
Loam-based soils are perfect for most plants thanks to a good balance of drainage, aeration, and nutrients. Sandy and silty soils provide good drainage but can lack nutrients, especially sandy soils. Chalky soil is highly variable in density but doesn’t provide many nutrients. Peat and clay soils are extremely dense but hold lots of water and nutrients.
Different types of soil also have different pH levels. This affects how acidic or alkaline the soil is, although most plants grow well in neutral soils. Chalk soils are more alkaline, while peat soils are more acidic.
Lemon myrtle trees thrive in nutritious, well-draining soils that still hold some moisture. Clay, loam, and silt-based soils are perfect, with sandy loam being the best combination. Lemon myrtle also prefers neutral to slightly acidic soils.
For more, see our in-depth guide on watering lemon myrtles for optimal growth.