How to Create Acidic Soil

Soil in southeast Texas is naturally very alkaline, but many plants prefer more acidic conditions. If changing the pH in your soil seems daunting and time consuming, it’s easier than you think! With the right products and some patience, you can set yourself (and your plants) up for gardening success!

Many flowers shrubs and plants, like the hydrangeas, gardenia, roses, and azaleas we’re featuring now at the Garden Center, prefer acidic soil. But how can we achieve that?

Understanding pH Levels

Neutral soil has a pH of 7, while alkaline soil is above 7 and acidic soil is below 7. The interesting part of the soil pH scale is the vast range between each number. Just one digit in either direction indicates a pH that’s 10 times more or less alkaline or acidic. For example, a soil pH of 7 is 10 times more alkaline that a pH of 6. Similarly, a pH of 3 is 10 more acidic than a pH of 4.

If you’re interested in testing the pH in your soil to find out exactly what you’re working with first, you can send a sample to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Fertilizers and More

Fertilizers and soils specifically designed for acid-loving plants are available to help adjust the pH, so that’s a great start. For hydrangeas, gardenia, roses, and azaleas, you can plant any of them using rose soil. Then, you can introduce amendments to acidify the soil. So what’s the common denominator?

Typically, it’s some form of sulfur in these products that’s altering the pH, like sphagnum peat, elemental sulfur, aluminum sulfate, or iron sulfate. Acidifying nitrogen and other organic materials can also increase the acidity. 

For container plants, you could add 2 tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water to adjust the pH. Additionally, peat moss and leaf compost are great organic options.

Patience and Persistence

Keep in mind that altering the pH can take some time. It won’t happen overnight, but with ongoing care and attention, you’ll be convinced it’s all worthwhile when you see your efforts in the form abundant blooms and overall plant health.

The expert staff at Warren’s can help you select the right products to acidify your soil. Stop by the Garden Center today, we’ll get you growing!