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pH Acid Alkaline Preferences of Plants

Copyright Pam Walatka

Acid Lovers
Low pH 4.0-6.5
Alyssum
Azalea
Birch
Blackberry
Blueberry
Bougainvillea
Camellia
Citrus
Clivia 5-6
Cranberry 3.5
Crocus
Daphne
Delphinium
Fern
Fir
Fuchsia
Heather
Holly
Hydrangea
Japanese Maple
Juniper
Laurel
Lily
Ivy
Madrone
Magnolia
Oak
Orchid
Pine
Phlox
Potato
Raspberry
Redwood 6.5
Rhododendron
Rose
Spruce
Strawberry
Willow

Middle Range
pH 6.0—7.0
or Widely Tolerant
African violet
Alyssum
Apple
Apricot
Bean [wide]
Beets
Begonia
Bok Choy 5.5-7.0
Broccoli
Cabbage [wide]
Carrot [wide]
Chrysanthemum
Corn [very wide]
Cucumber
Gardenia
Garlic
Geranium
Ivy
Kale 6.0-7.0
Lettuce
Lilac
Magnolia
Melon
Oleander
Onion
Parsley [wide]
Pea [wide]
Peach [wide]
Pepper [wide]
Philodendron
Potted Palm
Spinach 6.4-6.8 (not acid)
Succulents (alkaline soil, acid water)

Lime Lovers
High pH 7.0-7.5
Ash
Aster
Barberry
Beech
Boxwood
Carnation
Cherry
Clematis
Filbert
Hawthorn
Irish Juniper
Laburnum
Lilac
Maple (except Japanese)
Peony
Pinks
Plum
Poppy
Privet
Salvia
Sage
Sedum
Sumac
Sunflower
Yew

Explanation

At planting time, organic gardeners might think about pH, the acid/alkalinity balance in the soil. Some plants prefer an acid soil, while others do not. Planting your acid-lovers together will help them grow, because you can use acid soil amendments. For example, you could plant lilies, roses, and alyssum in the same bed, because they all prefer acid soil.

If you grow plants that are native to your neighborhood, your soil will be just fine. But if you want to add non-native fruits and vegetables, or anything non-native, you might want to think about pH.

Never add something to change the pH of your soil before testing the pH of your soil. To find the pH of soil:

  1. Get pH test strips from a pharmacy or organic garden store.
  2. Test your water.
  3. Dilute some soil in your water; test the result and compare it to the pH of your water.

Compost tends to be neural and will tend to correct an imbalance in your soil. In general, most plants prefer neutral or slightly lower: pH 6.0 to 7.0. Do not over-correct.

To make soil more acid (lower pH) mulch with leaves, pine needles or coffee grounds (which you can get for free from Starbucks or other espresso places) or buy organic fertilizer labeled "for acid-loving plants."

To make your soil more alkaline (higher pH) add wood ashes or lime (not too much!) to the soil or to your compost.

See organic gardening books and websites for other options. Look for what is easily available in your neighborhood.

Do you really have to worry about all this? No, not really. Most gardeners don't. But if you are worrying about it, you can print out this chart and take it out in the garden at planting time, so you don't have to drag garden dirt into your house to find your organic gardening books to look up the pH of what you are planting.


See also: Compost Frequently Asked Questions. Click here to send me a question or correction. Happy Gardening!


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Web work by Sandy Johan and Pam Walatka
copyright 2014
pamwalatka@yahoo.com