Determining the pH level is the key toward when and how to acidify soil. This action is important in growing certain plants as it affects their overall health and growth. Fortunately, this article provides you with insights, tips, and detailed steps on how to change the acidity level of your soil.
- Does your plant survive well in soil with more acid or alkaline?
- How much acidity does the soil needs?
- Is there enough acid in the soil?
These are just a few guiding questions we need to answer based on the information shared below.
I. How Soil Varies in pH Levels
Soils differ in terms of types, mineral contents, geological variations, and climate conditions. The most important consideration is the pH level regardless of the general differences. It does not matter if a plant needs dry or moist soil. Having familiarity with the type of soil to use is an initial responsibility.
The acid or alkaline level of the soil is indicated by a pH scale. This is easily and quickly measured using a device known as a soil ph meter or soil test kit. Soil’s pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. The list below shows the different levels, which represent how acidic or alkaline the soil is.
- pH 0 to 5.5 – Highly Acidic
- pH 5.5 to 6 – Acidic
- pH 6 to 6.8 – Sub-Acidic
- pH 7 (or 6.8 to 7.3) – Neutral
- pH 7.3 to 8 – Sub-Basic
- pH 8 to 8.5 – Basic Alkaline
- pH 8.5 or higher – Strongly Alkaline
In short, the pH scale needs to be between 0 and 6. This is simply the indication of how to acidify soil and maintain the required level.
II. Why Acidify Soils
Acidic soil is essential to certain plants. This only becomes important if the plants need more acid than alkaline from the soil. In this case, the plant needs to absorb some nutrients and other elements that are not found in alkaline soils. These include iron, copper, boron, manganese, and zinc. Lack of these nutrients may greatly affect the plant’s health.
III. When and How to Acidify Soil
Generally, the pH levels in the soil are vital to the plant’s overall health, growth, and production of flowers or fruits. During the initial sowing, you have to identify the kind of soil needed for your plant. Over time, the soil’s pH level may change, either decrease in acidity or increase in alkalinity. You may need to amend or correct the soil by adding supplements to reach the necessary acid level. Taking care of your plants does not only focus on basic watering, deadheading, and providing light. At some point, it may also need to acidify its soil or restore the pH level.
Iron deficiency can cause the plant to become stagnant or eventually die. A common indication is when the leaves turn brown or yellow. It is when the state of iron chlorosis occurs. The plant’s natural state or color must be preserved. This is why there’s importance on when and how to acidify soil simply by checking the physical appearance of the plant.
You may apply acidic supplements or fertilizers in the soil at least once a year or more often like after every few months depending on the plants. Experts recommend the best time to amend the soil is when the temperature becomes colder. This is usually during spring, autumn, or winter season.
A. Steps in Acidifying Soil
There’s no need to hire a professional to find out the pH level of your soil. It’s a very basic DIY procedure that even kids can easily do. Simply follow these steps on how to acidify soil in your plants.
1. Buy or borrow a reliable sol test kit or meter. Reading reviews and recommendations may help you narrow down choices of brands.
2. Check the pH level of your soil using a soil meter. This helps you determine whether you need to add acid or not and how much acid is needed.
3. Increase the acidity in the soil if the pH level is 7 or higher. Add one of the appropriate supplements or fertilizers (see below for the list).
B. Acidic Supplements to Add in Soil
You do not need to change the entire soil if there’s not enough acid. Instead, add more fertilizers or apply supplements high in acidity to regulate the pH level of your plant’s soil. Let’s take a look at the different supplements you may use.
Sulfur is a very common element used to acidify the soil. This is usually added to the soil before planting because it can last for years. It’s an ideal choice for plants and trees that have a long lifespan.
2. Iron Sulfate (Ferrous Sulphate)
Iron sulfate is a much better option if you only need a slight acidity for your plant’s soil. It can provide the expected results similar to sulfur but require more amount. Therefore, it is good for minimal usage. This is also recommended if the plant is suffering from iron deficiency.
3. Ammonium Sulfate
For a large amount of acidity, ammonium sulfate is an excellent supplement to use. It is important to be careful with this as it can quickly and greatly increase the acid level in the soil.
4. Aluminum Sulfate
How to acidify soil involves extra care and caution especially if you use aluminum sulfate. This is one of the common additives in the soil to add sulfur to the soil and increase its acidity. The problem is that the aluminum content can be toxic if absorbed. It’s best to apply this in soil for plants that do not produce fruits or vegetables.
5. Sphagnum Peat Moss
Another additive to acidify soil for the long term is sphagnum peat moss. This is a great organic matter that you can use solely or mix with other supplements.
6. Compost Tea
Aside from fertilizers, compost tea is also a good soil acidifier. You may water the soil with some amount of this material. This can be included in the maintenance of sol.
7. Coffee Grounds
Surprisingly, coffee grounds can help save your plants. Simply add some coffee grounds into the soil or around the plants and let them break down to begin the process of acidifying the soil.
Limestones are also a great material to decrease the pH level of the soil. It quickly acidifies the soil even in a small amount.
IV. What Plants Need Acidic Soil
As mentioned previously, plants need either acid or alkaline soil. We have included the list of some common plants that depend on and survive in acid soil.
If your garden or yard has begonia, camelia, zinnia, or hydrangea, the soil needs to keep the acid level maintained. Other flowering plants that thrive well in acidic soil are bleeding heart, caladium, foxglove, Japanese iris, and trillium.
Many evergreen shrubs grow in acid soil. These include azalea, fothergilla, gardenia, holly, and rhododendron. Ensure the pH level for these shrubs is below 7.
Berry fruits, such as blueberries and cranberries, are dependent on acidic soil for their growth. You also should regulate the acid pH level of the soil if you have currants, elderberries, or gooseberries.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and radishes are crop vegetables that need more acidity in their soil. Some species and leafy vegetables like rhubarb, peppers, and parsley also grow best in acidic soil.
If evergreen shrubs need acidity, so are evergreen trees. Among those trees are pin oak, willow oak, dogwood, beech, and magnolia.
Soil is an immensely important element for the growth and health of plants. The procedure on how to acidify soil is very simple, but it’s equally vital to find out the pH level. It’s the only way you can determine how much more acid to add. Part of maintaining your plants is to check the soil’s pH range from time to time. Make sure that you also know the right fertilizer to apply. This helps avoid over acidifying the soil. With all these in mind, be confident in growing and raising your beloved plants.
This information may be new but helpful to you as a beginner. Checking the soil from now on should be an upgrade for taking good care of your plants. At the end of the day, you should feel good and proud of yourself for having this additional insight.
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