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pH Acid Alkaline Preferences of Plants

Give your plants a good start in life

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
Kiwi 5.0 - 6.5
Laurel
Lemon Tree 5.5 - 6.5
Lily
Ivy
Madrone
Magnolia
Oak
Orchid
Pine
Phlox
Potato
Raspberry
Redwood 6.5
Rhododendron
Rose
Spruce
Strawberry
Willow

Low-to-Middle Range
pH 6.0—7.0
or Widely Tolerant
African violet
Alyssum
Apple
Apricot 6.0 - 8.0
Bean [wide]
Beets
Begonia
Bok Choy 5.5-7.0
Broccoli
Bulbs, flowering, most
Cabbage [wide]
Carrot [wide]
Cherry prefers 6.5 [5.5 to 8.0 ok]
Chives 6.1 to 7.6
Chrysanthemum
Corn [very wide]
Cucumber
Daffodil
Gardenia
Garlic
Geranium
Hellebore 6.5-7.0
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)
Tomato 6.0 to 6.8

Neurtal or Alkaline Lovers
Middle to High pH 7.0-7.5
Ash
Aster
Barberry
Beech
Boxwood
Carnation
Clematis
Filbert
Hawthorn
Irish Juniper
Laburnum
Maple (except Japanese)
Nastertium 6.1-7.8
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 thrive in your neighborhood, your soil probably will be just fine. But if you are trying something new to your neighborhood, you might want to think about pH.

You are not supposed to add something to change the pH of your soil before testing:

  1. Get pH test strips (litmus paper) from a pharmacy, organic garden store, or order online: Search: Paper-Litmus-Strips-Tester.

    Test your water.

    Dilute some soil in your water; test the result and compare it to the pH of your water.

  2. OR buy a pH test gadget in a garden store or garden department of a hardware store and follow the package directions.

  3. OR, because home test kits do not usually work very well, find an agency, such as an Agricultural Extension near you, and let them do the testing.
In my experience, pH testing results at home are inconclusive, hard to read. Therefore I avoid trying to change my soil pH, except to sprinkle wood ashes under my oak trees, and to use packaged acid-lover fertilizer on my roses, blackberries, and citrus. My baby lemon tree had been yellowing around the edges of the leaves until I mulched it with used coffee grounds. In other words, I add a few gentle soil amendments with thought toward pH preferences, but nothing drastic.

***The point of this page is to plant pH preferences together.***

Compost tends to be neutral and will tend to correct an imbalance in your soil. Neutral is 7.0. 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 most espresso places) or buy organic fertilizer labeled "for acid-loving plants."

To make your soil more alkaline (higher pH) add wood ashes to the soil.

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 open this chart on your phone while you are out in the garden planting.

See also our other sites

The Invasiveness of Native Plant People
Kosh Kamala Orphanage in Nepal
me-yoga-wide Pam's Yoga Fitness--free online yoga
beach house Beach houses for rent in Nicaragua
horse Wild Horses
/ Mountain Neighbors Helping Neighbors 95033
esalen Esalen in the 1960s

See also: Compost Frequently Asked Questions

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Web work by Sandy Johan and Pam Walatka
copyright 2017
pam@pamwalatka.com