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What Grows in High pH Soils?

If you are a gardener, you may be wondering about what grows in high pH soils. A high pH means a sweeter soil that can be very damaging to some plants. But if you know how to care for properly and what to plant in the soil, it can make some of your plants thrive.

Many plants can thrive in high pH soils. Each plant requires special care but can blossom and flourish in these soils. There are many different types of plants that can grow in the soil, such as:

  • Ornamental Cherry Trees
  • Lilac Bushes
  • Kiwi
  • Mums
  • Fox Glove
  • Easter Lilies
  • Brown-Eyed Susans
  • Asparagus

Once you know what kind of pH soil you have, you can grow thriving plants, trees, and vegetables! Read on to learn about all the tips and tricks to growing plants in high pH soil.

These Plants Grow in High pH Soils

If you know your soil is high pH, you may be wondering what you can grow. High pH soils are excellent for a variety of vegetables, plants, and flowers. Take a look at the chart below, which tells you the growing plant and its pH level.

Type of Plant/Vegetable/Root/TreepH level
Black-Eyed Susans6.-7.7
Candy TuftAbove 7.5
Daylilies Mums Asparagus6.0 to 8.0
Lenten Rose6.5-8
Winter Jasmine Pole Beans Beets Brussel Sprouts Kale Spinach Crookneck Squash Pea, Sweet6.0-7.5
Beech Tree3.5-8.5
Cauliflower Pumpkin Tomato5.5-7.5

(Source: thespruce)

You will notice that most of these plants grow at a range of levels, and there are very few that grow in high levels of alkaline soil. This is because high alkaline can have fewer nutrients that plants need to grow.

Why is the pH of Soil Important?

A soil’s pH is the amount of hydrogen in the soil compared to all the other nutrients. If the pH is low, there is a more considerable amount of hydrogen in the soil, meaning it is more acidic. If the pH is seven, there is an even balance of nutrients, and the ground is neutral. A higher pH means the soil is more alkaline and has less amount of hydrogen.

The soil’s pH is essential to pay attention to due to the nutrients needed by plants. If a plant is placed in the wrong type of soil, the roots may not gather the necessary nutrients and limit plant growth.

When choosing where to place your plant, it is essential to know what the pH level is to ensure enough nutrients and a beneficial soil structure are available to your plant.

How to Test if Your Soil is High pH

To test your soil’s pH, you can follow a few different methods. Each one has its benefits and can help you determine what your soil is like.

Use a Store-Bought pH Test

You can buy a pH test in any garden/home improvement center. The steps are easy and can give you an accurate read on a soil test strip. Here’s a gardeners favorite Soil pH Test Kit from Amazon.

  • Dig 4 to 6 feet below the topsoil, take a sample of the soil, and place it into a clear glass.
  • Pour distilled water onto the soil and place as much water as there is the soil in the glass.
  • Swirl the soil around with the water till the particles start to break apart.
  • Pour the solution into a coffee filter and allow the clumps and large debris to be filtered out of the liquid. Place the liquid in another clear glass.
  • Dip the pH strip into the liquid and compare the strip’s color to the scale in the test kit.

At-Home Method

If you do not want to go out and buy a test kit, you can use supplies you may have at home to test the soil’s pH.

  • Dig 4 to 6 feet below the topsoil, take a sample of the soil, and place it into a clear glass.
  • Pour one cup of water into the soil and make sure you mix them to make mud.
  • Add a half cup of vinegar to the mud and stir a small bit. After that, check and see if the soil fizzes. If it does, your soil is more alkaline and has a higher pH.
  • If the soil does not do anything, follow the first two steps again but instead of vinegar, add baking soda to the soil. If the soil fizzes now, it is more acidic and has a low pH.

These methods will help you determine what kinds of plants are best for the type of soil you have.

What Happens When Soil pH is Too High?

High alkaline soil is low in most nutrients due to a carbonate-rich factor being introduced and developing in an arid or dry environment. Typically these kinds of soil are found in the Western United States, where the air is drier and causes the carbonates to react to dry air.

The soil can limit the nutrients, such as phosphorus, available to the plants allowing them. It can also lead to plants taking in toxic chemicals due to the lack of other nutrients being general, causing them to die. not to do their processes such as photosynthesis

If soil pH is too high, it can cause a toxic buildup of the nutrient molybdenum, which can be quite poisonous to all plants. Microorganisms can become affected in a high pH level soil.

These organisms can help create nutrients in the ground and flourish at around a balanced pH level. If the soil is too acidic, these organisms can lose their nutrients and die off, causing the plants to suffer.

How to Change Your Soil’s pH

If you notice your plant’s soil is not at the right pH, there are a few ways to change the soil to be the proper pH.

  • First, test the soil’s pH and check what the current level is. This is important because you could damage your soil even more if you don’t know the pH level.
  • If you notice that your pH is too acidic, you will want to add limestone to your soil. Limestone will help lower the acidity level of the soil and make it more neutral/alkaline. Limestone needs to be added to soil at ten pounds per 100 feet.
  • If you notice that your pH is too alkaline, you will want to add sulfur to your soil. This will help make the soil more acidic. When you add sulfur, it is in low amounts, increasing by .10 for every 100 feet.
  • These products can both be found in different types of fertilizer or by themselves at your local home and garden center.
  • Fater you have placed these products in the soil, leave them alone for three months. Slowly over time, these chemicals should help the soil change its pH.
  • After three months, recheck the soil and see if the pH level has changed and if you need to increase or decrease the added products. You can also check year to year and decide what to do.


If you live in the western united states, you may be wondering what will grow in your high alkaline soil and help make your landscape beautiful. But now that you have the information, you can produce multiple plants and help your landscape flourish!

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