Understanding your soil is the first step to growing healthy vegetables, fruit trees, and flowers. Some plants grow well in acidic soils, others in alkaline soils, and yet some prefer a neutral pH level.
Yes, some plants thrive better in moderately acidic soil (pH 5.6 to 6.0), slightly acidic soil (6.1 to 6.5), or soil that is strongly acidic (5.1 to 5.5). Additionally, few tolerate very strongly acidic soils (pH 4.0 to 5.0) . pH 7 is the neutral point.
This article highlights a list of plants that like acidic soil.
- Radishes. Radishes grow best in light, sandy loam. A quick-going root crop, they thrive in slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.
- Sweet potatoes. Unlike radishes, these crops require a long, warm growing season. Soils with a pH of 5.6 to 6.6 should suit them.
- Peppers such as chili peppers and bell peppers prefer well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
- Parsley. Parsley, a popular fast-growing herb, enjoys soil in the range of 6.0 to 7.0 pH. Additionally, you can grow parsley easily from seed in well-drained, nutrient-rich soil.
- Carrots. Another popular and versatile root vegetable, carrots need light, well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic soil.
- Cucumbers. These salad veggies are also acid-tolerant plants. Plant cucumbers in a sunny position in light, fertile soil that is slightly acidic.
- Tomatoes. Botanically defined as fruits, tomatoes are considered vegetables by nutritionists. However, they prefer a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
- Squash. Summer varieties take up to 60 days to mature. However, winter squash needs longer, milder growing conditions. Overall, squash prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.
- Broccoli. Most brassicas, including broccoli, are cool-season crops. They grow best in cooler, yet still sunny, conditions and slightly acidic soil.
Other Vegetables That Like Acidic Soil
- Turnips. Both the roots and green tops can be eaten. Also, the plants need light, rich soil that is slightly acidic to neutral.
- Parsnips. Like turnips, these roots have many culinary uses. You can also grow parsnips in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8.
- Potatoes. Regular potatoes are more adaptable than other root crops but can tolerate acidic soil as low as pH 5 . The soil acidity at this level also helps control common potato scab.
- Beans. Most varieties of beans will thrive in warm, sunny positions in the garden. Additionally, beans do well in soil that is slightly acidic or neutral.
Herbs That Like Acidic Soil
Thyme, oregano, sage, horehound, parsley, garlic, rosemary, basil, and spearmint are nine acid-loving herbs that can thrive in soil pH as low as 5.5.
Acid-Loving Fruit Trees and Bushes
Blueberries. These acid-loving fruits enjoy soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5 . Moreover, they are beautiful to look at and delicious to taste.
Cranberries. Cranberries are packed full of vitamins. They grow in similar conditions as blueberries.
Elderberries. These lovely elderberry shrubs produce berries that are great for making wine. They like a slightly higher soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
Blackcurrants. These respond well to slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5. Additionally, these plants prefer full sun but will still grow in light shade. They also prefer well-drained, nutrient-rich soil.
Raspberries. These summer fruits are relatively easy to grow at home. They prefer soil between 5.5 and 6.5 pH that is well-drained and fertile.
Gooseberries. These seem to have fallen out of favor over the years, strangely, as they are delicious and versatile fruits. However, they grow best at a soil pH of 6 to 7.
Apples. Apple trees thrive best where it’s cold in the winter, and they enjoy a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.
Other fruit trees like peaches and nectarines, pears, figs, and pomegranates benefit from garden soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0.
Flowers That Like Acidic Soil
- Heather (Erica). A very hardy plant that can thrive in light, sandy soil at an ideal pH of 5.5.
- Lily of the Valley. This is a shade-loving ground cover that grows in soil with a pH between 5 and 7.
- Camellia. This lovely romantic flower that blooms in gorgeous shades of pink and red is often thought to be difficult to grow. However, this is usually because the soil is too alkaline. Camellias prefer acidic soils of 5.8 to 6.5 and are perfect shade plants.
- Cyclamen. This attractive plant enjoys the middle range of acidity (5.5 to 6.5) and thrives well in full or partial shade.
- Foxgloves. These biennials, or short-lived perennials, are acid-loving flowers. They do best in dappled shade and soil at 5.5 to 6.5 pH.
- Zinnias. These are bright and cheerful flowers that attract pollinating insects. Plant in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Moreover, zinnias like full sun and well-drained, fertile soil.
- Begonias. These annual or perennial flowers thrive in sandy loam soil that is slightly acidic. Begonias also make elegant houseplants.
- Daffodils. These familiar spring-flowering bulbs like slightly acidic to neutral soil. They are also low-maintenance flowers that do well in pots.
- Nasturtium. An easy-to-grow annual that prefers soil between 6.5 and 7.5.
- Bleeding Heart. This herbaceous ornamental enjoys slightly acidic soil. It also prefers humus-rich, moist soil and light shade.
Acid-Loving Shrubs and Trees
Blue Hydrangeas. For hydrangeas to produce true blue flowers, they need acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 or lower. Neutral or alkaline soil will turn the flowers pink.
Rhododendrons. These Asian beauties thrive in acidic soils with a pH of 4.5 to 6.0.
Azaleas. The best soil for these attractive garden plants is one with a soil pH of 4.5 to 6.0.
Gardenias. These elegant shrubs are tropical plants that will tolerate acidic soil ranging from 5.0 to 6.5 pH. Gardenias also serve as great indoor plants.
Fothergilla. With abundant white flowers in spring and gorgeous foliage in fall, these shrubs enjoy a soil pH of 5.0 to 6.0.
Magnolia. This beautiful flowering tree prefers soil with a pH level of 5.0 to 6.0.
Oak trees. These prefer somewhat acidic soil. Willow oak will tolerate a soil pH between 4.5 and 5.5.
Holly bushes. These plants with green, shiny leaves are also acid-loving. They grow best in soils between 5.0 and 6.0 pH.
Beech. A rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 5 to 6.5 should ensure the healthy development of beech trees.
Testing Soil pH
Testing the acidity levels can be done at home. You can purchase a soil test kit online or at the garden store. There are also professional services available to help if home testing is not possible.
pH levels range from 0 to 14, with 5.5 and 7.0 being the optimal range for most plants .
Making Soil More Acidic
Looking to increase the acidity in your soil?
Maybe you’ve been having trouble getting your plants to grow. Or maybe you just want to try something new in your garden.
Whatever the reason, there are things you can do to increase the acidity in your soil naturally.
The correct soil conditions are essential for growing healthy plants. However, sometimes it is a matter of trial and error to attain perfection. With that, this list of acid-loving plants is the perfect guide to get you started.
See also: 50 Plants for Alkaline Soil.