Plants in Acidic Soil

Gardeners can learn a soil's pH with the help of commercially available testing kits. A reading of 7.0 indicates a neutral pH level. Measurements that come in below the 7.0 mark signify acidic soil conditions. Choosing plants that thrive in an acidic soil environment reduces the likelihood of vegetation loss due to improper nutrient availability and absorption. Since many plants overall do prefer slightly acidic soils, there are plenty of options to choose from.


Potatoes thrive in soil with a pH falling between 5.5 and 6.0; it is interesting to note that the plants can nevertheless tolerate an environment with a pH as low as 4.8, which actually protects nonresistant cultivars against scab disease. Gardeners may stay within the optimum pH range when planting the scab-resistant cultivars that include "Atlantic," "Norland" or "Superior." Other vegetables that thrive in acidic soil conditions include tomatoes (5.5 and higher), peppers (6.0 to 6.5), peas (5.8 to 7.0), onions (ideal conditions exist at 6.6) and pole beans (5.5 to 6.5).

Ornamental Plants

Bergenia of the Saxifragaceae family are perennial evergreens that feature leathery leaves and purple or burgundy flowers; these plants grow in full sun and require a pH that ranges from 5.5 to about 6.5. Goat's Beard (Aruncus dioicus) features bright green leaves and white summer flowers; the herbaceous plant does well in soil pH levels ranging from 6.0 to 6.5. The yellow flowers of the Irish Eyes Gloriosa Daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) are great for borders that contain a soil with pH ranging from 4.5 to 7.0.

Shrubs and Trees

The Ericaceae (or Heath) family contains a wide array of acid-soil-loving genera. Examples include blueberries, cranberries, azaleas and huckleberries. As a general rule of thumb, pH levels should range from 5.0 to 6.2. Hydrangea shrubs thrive in soil conditions falling between 4.5 and 5.5. Daphne (Daphne cneorum) prefers a slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil ranging in pH from 6.5 to 8.0. The Coastal Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) does well in conditions ranging from 4.5 to 7.0, although it prefers the soil to be on the lower side of this range. The Alberta White Spruce (Picea 'Alberta'), which is a dwarf cultivar of the White Spruce (Picea glauca), grows well in soils with pH levels that range from 5.0 to 6.0. The Repanda Common Juniper (Juniperus communis) is a good choice for a variety of soil conditions, including acidic ones; this tree can handle pH levels ranging from 4.5 to 8.5.

Keywords: pH levels, soil conditions, acidic soil

About this Author

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.