Learn About Acidic Soil So Your Acid-Loving Plants Thrive
If you are wondering why your plants are struggling to produce or flower, yet you have rampant weeds all over your garden, it might be time to test your soil’s acidity.
Acidic Soil Definition
Soil acidity is based on the relative pH of the soil, which ranges from 1 to 14. Anything under a 7 is considered acidic and anything above that is considered basic or alkaline. Alkalinity in the soil can have a large effect on your garden plants and plant life. Most gardens grow best with a pH of 6 to 7.5. So, right in the middle of alkaline and acidic is where you want to be, and this is called neutral.
Why 6 to 7.5? Because, at that pH, phosphorus is water soluble, and that means it can be dissolved and absorbed through the roots of the plant. The three main soil elements required to have a thriving garden are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You may see NPK ratings on fertilizers or bags of soil, and these three letters stand for (N) nitrogen, (P) phosphorus, and (K) potassium. The correct balance between these three macronutrients is what gives you beautiful blooms and edible garden plants.
What does high acidity do to my plants?
High acidity in your soil will make it difficult for flowers to bloom or your fruits and vegetables to set. You will also see an abundance of weeds growing all over your garden no matter how often or how well you pull them up. They seem to sprout inches overnight and choke out your plants. With an imbalance of NPK in your soil, the elements of aluminum and manganese can hurt your crop performance and make it so your flowers never bloom.
What Is Acidic Soil Is Caused By?
Acidic soil can be caused by a variety of things, but the following three instances are the common causes:
1. High-nitrogen synthetic fertilizers can cause the soil to become acidic because of their ammonia bases.
2. Acidic organic matter breaks down in the soil over time. This is the most common cause of the soil becoming very acidic. Pine trees have high acidity and their needles can spike soil acidity.
3. Too much water can cause leeching, which means that vital macronutrients are washed from the soil before being absorbed. Magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which keep the acidity in the soil manageable, are washed out, making the acidity in the soil drop.
Acidic Soil Treatment
Before deciding on a treatment method, make sure to request a soil test so you are not ignoring another problem.
The easiest way to treat soil acidity is to add limestone to your soil. Limestone is nature’s neutralizer and works by neutralizing the acid that is present in the soil. Lime isn’t very water soluble, so the first rainfall won’t wash it away. It also needs moisture to work most effectively, so keep the soil wet. By following all the rules, you can improve the overall acidity of your soil in a year’s time.
Another option is using wood ash. This takes more work because it needs to be reapplied throughout the year. However, it can be very effective in the longevity of your soil. All you do is dust a half-inch of wood ash on the soil and mix it well about a foot into the dirt. Simple, but work heavy.
Acidic Soil Plants
Weeds that love acidic soil include:
Plants you want that love acidic soil:
– Calla lilies
– Pine Trees