trees are surprisingly tolerant of soil conditions provided
drainage is good. Many come from mountains where soil
is not deep, except in the river valleys.
soil is well drained, the limiting factor for a number
of species is the amount of lime present. Many trees
growing naturally on acid or neutral soils will grow
equally well on soils with a moderate lime content,
particularly if the soil is deep and fertile. But a
certain number are, like rhododendrons among shrubs,
strongly calcifuge (lime-hating) plants, particularly
on rather shallow, chalky soils as are found in many
fine gardens in such areas as the Chilterns, Cotswolds
and South Downs.
Apart from the degree
of soil alkalinity (see pH) depth and soil structure
affect the kind of trees that can be grown. In general,
with certain notable exceptions, conifers prefer acid
or neutral soils. The Rosaceae, however has many
genera that are often associated in nature with alkaline
soils such as Malus (apples), Prunus (cherries,
plums, peaches, almonds, etc), Pyrus (pears),
Crataegus (thorns) and Sorbus (rowans
and service trees).
It is curious
that though many calcifuge plants will not live in calcareous
soils (containing lime), most of those that are calcipholous
(lime-loving) will grow well in neutral and acid soils.
list indicates the preferences of some commonly cultivated
genera, particularly those that will, or will not, grow
on soils with a moderate lime content, and those that
on no account thrive on shallow, chalk soils.
ACER Most maples thrive
on lime and chalk, including natives and those commonly
planted. The Chinese species, such as AA, capillipes,
daaidii, ginnala, griseum and rufinerve, make
a splendid display in chalk gardens. A. palmatum
and its cultivars need more fertile soil. The American
A. rubrum will not grow on chalk.
AILANTHUS Tolerates lime.
ALNUS All alders will
grow well on lime but must have moisture, with the exception
of A. cordata and A. incana, which will
stand drier situations. The former is good on chalk.
The horse-chestnuts and buckeyes do well on lime and
chalk, though preferring fertile soils.
Though naturally growing on light acid soils, these
will tolerate some lime.
ARBUTUS One of the few
Ericaceae that grows well on lime.
BETULA The birches do well
on lime, the common box grows naturally on chalk.
All the hornbeams are successful on either heavy alkaline
soils or light chalk.
tolerate some lime in deep fertile soils.
CASTANEA. The sweet chestnuts
do not like lime, but will tolerate it in small quantities
on well-drained fertile soils.
CATALPA Lime tolerant.
Will tolerate some lime in deep, fertile soils.
CERCIDIPHYLLUM Lime tolerant.
The Judas trees do well on lime and chalk.
Hazels do well on lime, including chalk.
Most kinds do well on lime, including chalk.
All thorns will grow on lime and chalk.
The dove tree does well on lime and chalk.
There is still some doubt as to which species will grow
well on lime.
The tree-like species thrive on lime and chalk.
Does well in shallow chalk soil.
beeches have a shallow root system and thrive on well-drained
soils with high lime content and on chalk.
fig-tree grows well on lime and chalk.
The ashes thrive on soils with high lime content as
long as they are fertile.
Will tolerate a little lime in fertile soils.
The Kentucky coffee needs a rich, loamy soil and will
tolerate some lime.
The snowdrop trees will not tolerate lime.
This rare tree is good on chalk: ILEX Hollies are good
on lime and chalk. JUGLANS Walnuts will thrive on lime
soils and chalk if it is not too thin.
The golden rain tree will grow in any well-drained soil.
LABURNUM Will grow anywhere.
Dislikes more than a trace of lime and will not grow
on chalk. LIRIODENDRON The tulip trees will grow on
fertile soils with high lime content but are not happy
MAGNOLIA Magnolias are
not happy on limy soils, the exceptions among the tree-sized
species being MM. delavayi, x highdownensis, kobus,
sinensis and wilsonii.
varying degrees the ornamental species and hybrids of
apples are satisfactory on lime, and the majority do
well on chalk.
The southern beeches so far in cultivation in Britain
will, on fertile soils, stand a little lime in the soil
but cannot be grown on chalk.
NYSSA A lime hater.
The hop-hornbeams will grow on lime.
OXYDENDRUM A lime hater.
Is not successful where there is more than a trace of
PAULOWNIA Good on lime
Good on lime and chalk.
PLATANUS The planes do
well on lime. POPULUS Poplars in general need fertile
moist soil and will not object if there is a lime content,
but, except for PP. alba, canescens and lasiocarpa,
they will not grow on chalk.
Almonds, apricots, bird cherries, cherries (including
the Japanese cultivars), laurels (common cherry and
Portugal) and peaches, all grow on soils with a lime
content and, in varying degrees, are also successful
The wing-nuts will stand lime if the soil is fertile
and moist. PYRUS The pears will all grow on soil with
a high lime content, including chalk.
QUERCUS Most oaks do well
on soils with a high lime content, including chalk,
if there is sufficient depth for their tap-roots. Particularly
good are QQ. canariensis, cerris, . frainetto,
hispanica `Lueombeana’, ilex, macranthera, robur
and petraea. Willow oaks, Q. phellos,
and cork oaks, Q. suber, are not good on
tree-like species will grow on lime, including chalk.
The false acacias will grow on lime soils and chalk,
but are not at their best on them.
tree-sized willows tolerate lime, but all need abundant
moisture, and will not thrive on dry, chalk soils.
The common elder will reach tree size on lime and chalk.
SASSAFRAS Requires lime-free
Tolerates lime on well drained fertile soils.
The rowans and service trees are all good on lime, including
The snowball trees will not grow on lime.
This rare Chinese tree does well on lime and chalk.
commonly cultivated lime trees grow naturally on limestone
formations, but need moderately fertile soils.
elms will grow well on lime and in varying degrees on
The Californian laurel will tolerate some lime but will
not thrive on shallow chalk.
The ironwoods will tolerate lime but must have deep
ABIES Most silver firs
need deep, moist soil and in such will tolerate lime.
AA. amabilis, braeteata, forreshi, grandis, magnifica,
procera and Veitchii are not good on soils
with much lime. AA. cephalonica and pinsapo,
however, will grow on chalk.
The monkey puzzle given fertile soil will tolerate lime.
CEDRUS All the cedars,
especially C. atlantica, will tolerate lime on
These small trees grow well on lime.
CHAMAECYPARIS CC. lawsoniana
and nootkatensis and their cultivars do well
on soils with high lime content. CC. obtusa, pisifera
and thyoides are not good on lime and will
not thrive on shallow chalk.
The Japanese cedar will tolerate lime if grown in deep,
The Chinese fir is not happy on lime soils.
The Leyland cypress grows well on lime and chalk..
CUPRESSUS The hardy cypresses
will tolerate lime, and C. macrocarpa does well
The maidenhair tree grows well on fertile soils containing
The numerous species and their cultivars grow well on
J,ARIX Larches grow well
The incense cedar needs deep moist loam and will tolerate
The dawn redwood does best on fertile soils, with or
without some lime, and will grow slowly and healthily
PICEA The spruces are
not happy on shallow, dry soils, though most will tolerate
some lime, including the much cultivated common spruce,
P. abies. An exception is the striking Serbian
spruce, P. omorika, which grows on limestone
PINUS Though many
of the pines grow naturally on light, mountain soils
and many will tolerate a little lime, the majority dislike
it. Even the Scots pine, P. sylvestris, is not
at its best on lime. PP. armandii, contorts, pinaster,
radiata, and strobus are unsatisfactory on
lime. The handsome stone pine, P. pinea, will stand
a little. The Austrian pine, P. nigra austriaca is
good on chalk, as to a slightly lesser .extent is
the Corsican pine, P. nigra maritima. P. mugo, often
no more than a spreading shrub, will also grow on chalk,
as will the rare P. bungeana.
The Douglas firs thrive on fertile, moist, well-drained
soils, on which they will stand some lime but not chalk.
The umbrella pine will not grow on chalk.
The giant redwood will tolerate lime if there is a good
depth of fertile soil but will not grow on chalk.
The wellingtonia also will grow well in deep fertile
soils but will not grow on chalk.
The swamp cypress will not tolerate lime.
yews grow naturally on limestone formations and chalk,
and are equally on good acid soils.
western red cedar will grow on soils containing lime,
as will the Chinese and American arborvitae and their
This needs fertile, moist soils and thrives better
on neutral or acid sites than on limestone.
TORREYA These yew-like trees do well on
limestone and chalk.
The western hemlock will not thrive on shallow soils
containing lime or on chalk, nor will the other species
occasionally planted. The eastern hemlock, T. canadensis,
will, however, grow
under these conditions.