Plants for Acid Soils

Soil acidity can vary widely in different parts of the country, and the easiest way to determine whether your soil is acidic is to have it tested by your local extension office. Your local extension office can measure the pH levels of your soil, and make recommendations for adding nutrients, like powdered sulfur, to raise the acidity in the soil when necessary. Soil with a pH level below 7.0 is considered acidic, and many types of plants grow very well, even thrive, in acidic soil conditions.

Ground covers

Ground covers are low-growing plants, typically 1 inch to 4 feet in height, providing dense soil cover in areas of the landscape, according to the University of Illinois Extension. While ground cover plants can include types of turfgrass, many ground cover plants are grown as decorative alternatives to grass. Ground cover plants particularly well suited to grow in acidic soil include: heather, a plant with evergreen foliage and white, pink or red flowers, camby pachistima, a plant that produces colorful bronze foliage in the fall, and wintergreen, a plant with dark, evergreen leaves and bright-red berries in autumn.


Some varieties of shrubs will tolerate alkaline soil, but many prefer to be grown in slightly acidic to very acidic--pH 4.5 to 6.5--soil conditions. The torch azalea, Catawba rhododendron, mountain laurel, Japanese pieris and drooping leucothoe are types of acid-loving, evergreen and semi-evergreen shrubs that produce an abundance of colorful flowers in the spring, according to the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. Highbush blueberries yield tasty edible fruit in the summer and colorful, red leaves in the fall. Bayberry bushes are semi-evergreen shrubs that turn out fragrant, gray berries each season, while summer-sweet, named after its aromatic midsummer flowers, produce attractive, multihued foliage every autumn.


The sweet magnolia is one of the most famous acid-loving trees, commonly grown in the South. This ornamental tree with large, shiny, evergreen leaves produces a large quantity of oversized, fragrant, white blooms in late June or July. Other trees suitable for growing in acid soils include: American holly, a broadleaved evergreen tree that produces red fruits on female plants and the pin oak, a pyramid-shaped tree that grows 50 to 75 feet tall and is coveted for the beautiful, red foliage it produces every year in the fall, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Dogwoods, red oak, spruce and white cedars are also among the types of trees that prefer to be grown in acidic soil.

Keywords: plants acid soil, acid-loving plants, acid soil planting

About this Author

Barbara Biehler is a freelance writer who has written articles for and eHow, as well as online specialty courses for She has a B.A. in English from the University of Central Florida, and over 15 years experience in business development, sales, and marketing. An avid gardener, cook, and voracious reader, Barbara resides with her family near Nashville, Tennessee.