Plants for Acid and Alkaline Soils       Bookmark and Share

Unless you are one of the fortunate few who was blessed with (or you have struggled to achieve!) the perfect slightly acid to neutral soil pH (6.5-7.0), you are having to learn to live with either acid or alkaline soil. Learning to live with it can mean either taking measures to adjust the pH or selecting a plant that is suited to your soil pH. Soil can be tested at the University of Minnesota or many other independent soil testing laboratories. There is also a home test kit for pH. Be sure to use distilled water with the home test so tap water won't skew your results. And keep in mind that soil pH can change from year to year. Much of the water provided by both city water systems and wells in our area is alkaline. That can affect soil pH. As some plant materials such as peat moss or pine needles break down, they naturally acidify the soil too. This means your soil pH can vary from season to season and it may vary from site to site in your yard.

The vast majority of plants we like to grow in our gardens or landscapes grow their best when the soil pH ranges between 6.5 and 7.0. The pH of soil is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral. A pH lower than 6.5 is called acid (or sour) and a pH over 7.5 is referred to as alkaline (or sweet). If a plant grows best in a slightly acid soil, and your soil is slightly acid, there isn't any problem. But if your soil is alkaline that plant will not be able to access what it needs nutritionally.

If you are interested in adjusting the pH of your soil, pick up a copy of Bachman's Information Sheet Soil pH for more information or talk with one of our experts. If you are going to work with the existing pH level of the site, try to chose a plant suited to that pH. If you are curious about a plant you don't see on these lists, ask and we will be glad to try to find out its particular requirements for you.

Plants that Tolerate Slightly Acid Soils
*those in bold require acid

Fir Abies
Spruce Picea
Pines Pinus
Upright Yew Taxus
Hemlock Tsuga canadensis
Horse Chestnut Aesculus
Birch Betula
Buckeye Aesculus
Alder Alnus
Oaks Quercus
Pin Oak Quercus palustris
Mountain Ash Sorbus
Magnolia Magnolia
Serviceberry Amelanchier
Larch (Tamarack) Larix
Fringetree Chionanthus
Pagoda Dogwood Cornus

Junipers Juniperus
False Cypress Chamaecyparis
Dwarf Hemlocks Tsuga
Yews Taxus
Dwarf Spruce Picea
Mugho Pine Pinus mugo
Sweetbush Clethra
Dogwood Cornus
Winterberry Ilex verticillata
Mountain Laurel Kalmia
Azalea, Rhododendron spp.
Rhododendron, R. spp.
Serviceberry Amelanchier
Hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla
Bog Rosemary Andromeda
Blueberries Vaccinium

*Please note that Arborvitae is not on the list of acid-loving plants. It is one of the few evergreens that prefers neutral soil.

Perennials for Acid Soil
Lupines Lupinus
Butterfly Weed Aesclepias
Turtlehead Chelone
Snakeroot Cimicifuga
Fringed Bleeding Heart Dicentra
Foxglove Digitalis
Gentian Gentiana
Primroses Primula
Trillium Trillium
Woodland Phlox Phlox stolon.
Virginia Bluebells Mertensia
Coral Bells Heuchera
Barrenwort Epimedium
Marsh Marigold Caltha
Lady Slipper Cypripedium
Hardy Ferns, most varieties

Groundcovers For Acid Soil
Winterberry Cornus canadensis
Wintergreen Gaultheria
Lilies of the Valley Convollaria
Bearberry Arctostaphylos

Miscellaneous Plants for Acid Soil
Wax Begonias
Calla Lilies

Plants that Indicate the Soil Might be Acid
Wild Strawberries
Ox Eye Daisies
Red Cedar
Dock (Rabbit Tobacco)

Plants that Indicate the Soil Might Be Alkaline
Spotted Spurge
Queen Anne's Lace

Alkaline Tolerant Plants
Boxelder Acer negundo
Japanese Barberry Berberis
Hackberry Celtis
Russian Olive Eleagnus
Sargent Crabapple Malus
Mockorange Philadelphus
Locusts Robinia
Bridalwreath Spirea 'Van Houtii'
Arrowwood Viburnum Viburnum

Recommended Products
Bachman's-Grown Quality Plants
Pelleted Ground Limestone
Pelleted Ground Gypsum
Aluminum Sulfate
Elemental Sulfur
Broadcast and Drop Spreaders

© Bachman's 1997


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