What is soil ph and how does it relate to plant life?
Without a balanced soil ph, it would be impossible for plants to survive, it greatly affects plant life.
All ph simply means is a percentage of hydrogen. There is alkaline soil and there are acidic soils. Both of these soil types affect plant growth and plant life.
Different types of plants require different soil types. Some plants love acidic soil while other plants prefer alkaline soil and still there are some that prefer a more neutral soil.
So when you are preparing to plant a garden it is best to get a soil ph done to determine what soil type you have, for this is one of the factors that will determine if you have a successful garden or not.
Or you may have a garden already and want to add more plants, make sure however that before you purchase that plant you find out the needs of the requirements of that plant including what type soil that plant prefers.
In order to find out your soil ph you must gather several soil samples from the planting site, place in a plastic bag and send to the lab to be tested or you can buy a soil ph kit it comes with the instruction on how to test your soil ph.
Soil Ph Scale
Soil ph is measured on a scale from 1-14, any number below 7 means that the soil ph is acidic. Any number above 7 means that the soil is alkaline and if the number measures at exactly 7 0n the scale, that means the soil is neutral.
Most plants grow pests in a ph range of 5.5-6.5. Well, drained sandy soils, low pine flat woods, and organic soils are frequently acidic in Florida.
Also note that many pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and liquid forms of fertilizers perform best with a ph of 5.5-8. Be sure to test your water as well as your soil.
Soil Ph should always be tested before adding soil amendments.
Pull background covers, mulches, and grass to expose the soil in order to get a proper soil sample. A soil ph test will also let you know of the nutritional status of your soil.
How to adjust soil PH
In order to raise your soil ph, material such as dolomite, crushed agriculture limestone, or hydrated lime should be used. Be very careful when using hydrated lime because it can burn plants.
Lime must be incorporated within the top six inches of the soil. Ph adjustment with lime must be done prior to planting. Be mindful and follow directions remember that label is law.
Lowering soil PH
If after you have tested your soil, the results show where the ph must be lowered, the mineral that you would use is Sulfur. Super-fine wettable or dusting sulfur will help you to accomplish this.
The amount of sulfur applied should not exceed 1 pound per 100 square feet at any one application.
If sulfur is being applied around living plants, the same amount should be applied. Two separate applications should be made 60 days apart.
Iron sulfate can also be added to lower soil ph. The recommended rate for iron sulfate is 1 lb per 100 square feet, and it may be necessary to reapply in 60 days.
I want to make a note here also those plant nutrients that are present in the soil are also affected by soil ph. If soil ph is not adjusted to meet that plant’s requirements even though that plant may be surrounded by an abundance of nutrients, the plant can still suffer from a lack of nutrients because soil ph affects a number of nutrients available to plants. In other words, the nutrients will be in an insoluble form or locked up.
The solubility of these nutrients is only made available as the soil ph is adjusted. So from this, we can see how soil ph plays a big part in plant growth and development.
Adjusting PH in Soil-less mixes
When seeking to adjust nursery grown plants, most foliage and woody crops would tolerate a ph range from 4.5 – 6.5. For foliage crops, it would be anywhere from 5.o – 6.5.
Low ph levels can be raised in potting media by adding lime materials such as dolomite or calcium carbonate.
High levels are lowered by adding sulfur.
In sandy potting media small amounts of lime or sulfur are needed while larger amounts are needed to affect the ph of peat.
A natural way to adjust soil ph is by adding organic matter such as mulches. As mulch breaks down it not only adds nutrients to the soil but it can also help in the adjusting of soil ph.