how to raise pH in soil naturally: 6 DIY Ways

If your plants continue to lack proper growth despite seasonal fertilization, you should find how to raise pH in soil naturally, and ways to alter and reduce the soil’s pH. Check here to learn more.

As simple and exciting as the idea of growing your own garden sounds, the task can be quite challenging for someone who lacks proper plant knowledge and does not understand a specific plant variety’s true requirements.

This is one of the reasons inexperienced plant enthusiasts keep fertilizing and watering their outdoor planted and indoor potted plants only to be disappointed by early plant deaths.

However, do you want to know what may be causing all your attempts at fertilizing and watering to go to waste? Bad soil pH!

Just like sun, air, and water, plants are directly dependent on the neutrality, acidity, or alkalinity of the soil they are grown in. If a plant that needs slightly acidic soil is grown in neutral grounds, it has a high chance of producing poor fruit and growing incorrectly.

If you’re looking for some tips and tricks to grow your own home garden, you need to know all about adding pH to the soil.

Keep reading to learn about soil pH, the role it plays in a plant’s growth, and how you can add it to the soil.

What is the pH of Soil?

pH is a Latin word used to describe the power or potential of hydrogen. The more alkaline a substance is, the higher its pH, while higher acidity levels result in a lower pH.

Scientists, researchers, gardeners, cooks, etc., use the global pH scale to learn about the acidity of any liquid or solution. This scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 and 14 depicting the highest level of acidity and alkalinity, respectively.

Solutions that are as acidic as they are alkaline have neutral pH levels that show a 7 pH on the scale.

When we talk about the pH levels of the soil, we discuss whether the moisture present in the soil is more acidic or alkaline in nature.

Although some potting soils come with preset pH levels, you can always add pH to the soil to adjust it according to the growing plant’s specific needs.

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While some plants prefer more neutral or alkaline soils, most flowering plants, green plants, fruits, vegetables, and trees thrive when the soil’s pH levels are slightly lower than 7. 

What Role Does a Soil’s pH Levels Play?

Some plants prefer warm summers to cold winters, but different plant species have pH preferences.

Although most plants can generally grow and survive in neutral soils, their true growth potential is unleashed when their potting soil’s pH is adjusted to their unique requirements.

Plants grown at unideal pH levels usually show signs of poor health and low immunity. Some of these signs include the following:

  • Stunted growth
  • No new leaf or stem growth
  • Yellow and pale leaves
  • Brown and black spots on the leaves
  • Leaves develop brown tips
  • Excess leaf loss
  • Low resistance against common plant diseases
  • Lesser number of fruits harvested in a season
  • The plant produces low-quality, rotten fruit
  • Twisted leaves

Hence, if you fail to identify your plant’s pH requirements, and do not add pH to the soil that needs to be more alkaline, your plant will suffer both in health and appearance.

Moreover, although some plant varieties do prefer alkaline soils, a significant majority of the plant species thrive when the potting soil has pH levels ranging from 5.5 to 6.5.

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what role does the soil’s acidity play in plant health and growth?

Most high-quality potting soils generally contain a combination of different micro-nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, organic compounds, etc.

If soils lack these nutrients, gardeners add different fertilizers to introduce each of these compounds to the soil on their own.

The plant absorbs these micronutrients from the soil through its roots and synthesizes these compounds to release energy, which is then used to accelerate growth, improve immunity, enhance the external appearance, and increase its expected longevity.

  • However, as crucial as these micronutrients are, they are generally too large to pass through the root’s cell walls on their own.
  • If a solution or substance is added to the soil to drop its pH levels, the acidic surroundings will help break down the large micronutrients into easily absorbable compounds.
  • As a result, the plant can easily absorb these nutrients from the soil and thus enjoy improved health and better growth.
  • Hence, your plants will suffer despite your efforts if you do not understand a plant’s unique pH requirements. 

Which Plant Varieties Grow Best in Alkaline, Neutral, and Acidic Soils?

Name of Plants that Grow in Alkaline SoilsName of Plants that Grow in Neutral SoilsName of Plants that Grow in Acidic Soils
CampanulaMost varieties of rosesApple
LavenderMagnoliasChestnut
CeanothusBasswoodBalsam
DianthusPeachRed and White Pine tree
GeraniumsPearWillow tree
Asparagus Juniper
Cabbage Red and white Pine tree
Kale Lily-of-the-valley
Leaks Daffodils
Peas Monstera plants
Broccoli Money plants
Beans Cactuses
  Hydrangeas
  Camillas

how to raise pH in soil naturally: to Make It More Alkaline?

how to add pH in soil naturally from 5 to 7

As listed above, some plants and vegetables do much better when the soil’s pH levels are higher than 7. These pH levels help improve the overall quality and taste of the plant or vegetable and also aid in enhancing their external appearance.

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This is why broccoli grown in slightly alkaline soils have a more vibrant and beautiful green color compared to when it is grown on neutral grounds.

Luckily, there are multiple ways to add pH to the soil to make it perfectly alkaline for a growing plant, fruit, or vegetable. Some of the top ways to add pH to the soil include:

  1. Add fresh lime juice to distilled water and mix well. Spray the lime solution onto the potting soil and use a garden shovel to mix well.
  2. Grind up some eggshells and sprinkle the powder onto the soil. Water the soil so that the eggshell power can seep deeper into the soil.
  3. Create an alkaline solution using baking soda and distilled water. Add the cloudy solution directly into the soil.
  4. Mix wood ash into the soil.
  5. Buy sodium bicarbonate from the store and mix a small portion of it with water. Spray the mixture onto the potting soil and mix in the solution with a garden shovel.

How to Check if the Soil is Alkaline Enough?

An electronic pH meter is the best way to check whether your efforts of adding pH have successfully made the soil alkaline in nature.

  • This electronic device needs to be dipped into the soil to check the exact pH.
  • However, if you cannot find the electronic pH meter at a local store, you can always use simple kitchen ingredients to DIY your own test.
  • For this, take one to two tablespoons of the potting soil in a bowl, and add ½ a cup of vinegar. If the mixture gets fizzy, the soil is indeed alkaline.

How Can You Reduce the Soil’s pH to Make it Acidic?

Just the way you can add pH to potting soil, you can also reduce it to make it more acidic.

This is a common practice that allows gardeners and farmers around the globe to grow and harvest most plant, fruit, and vegetable varieties.

To reduce the soil’s pH, add either of the following items and solutions listed below:

  • Add vinegar or fresh lemon juice to distilled water and mix well. Spray the lemon solution onto the potting soil and use a garden shovel to mix well.
  • Mix a diluted solution of sulfuric acid into the soil.
  • Grind up some pine needles and sprinkle the powder onto the soil. Water the soil so that the pine needles can seep deeper into the soil.
  • Mix a teaspoon of coffee grounds into a cup of distilled water and spray it onto the soil.
  • Use citrus peelings from oranges, fruiters, grapefruits, and lemons, and mix them into the soil. To speed up the process, dehydrate the peelings first to grind them into a powder form.
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How to Check if the Soil is Acidic Enough?

As mentioned above, an electronic pH meter is the best device to measure a soil’s pH levels as accurately as possible.

n However, if you do not own such a device, use baking soda and water to conduct your own DIY test.

Take two tablespoons of the potting soil into a bowl and add ½ a cup of baking soda along with a cup of distilled water.

If the mixture gets fizzy and bubbly, the soil is indeed acidic.

Key Steps to Making a Potting Soil More Acidic

StepsDetails
Signs your potting soil lacks acidityStunted growthPale and yellow leavesExcess leaf lossBurnt tipsTwisted leavesRotten fruit
Find the ingredients you need to increase soil aciditySulfur or sulfuric acidCompostLeaf moldVinegarLemon juicePine needlesSphagnum peat mossCoffee groundsCitrus peelingsAcidic fertilizer
Safety measures to take during this processAlthough most of the acidity-adding ingredients mentioned above are not corrosive, it is best to be safe to avoid a skin reaction or irritation. For this, wear gardening gloves as you prepare your acidic solution and mix it into the soil using a garden shovel. 
Add acidity to the soilIf you are using pine needles, compost, leaf mold, or any other solid substance, simply add it into the soil and mix it in. However, if you are adding a liquid such as lemon juice or vinegar, spray it onto the soil using a spray bottle.
Check soil’s acidityOnce you have mixed in the acidic ingredients, use either of the two testing methods mentioned earlier in the blog to check whether you have successfully reduced the soil’s pH or not. If the pH levels are still above 6.5, add more acidic ingredients and recheck.
Inspect the plant for resultsFinally, give the plant some days to respond to its slightly acidic soil. If you have correctly followed the steps above, you should be able to notice fresh green pigment and new leaf growth soon.

What are the Benefits of Changing Your Soil’s pH Levels?

  • Gardening and plant care will become more therapeutic and less frustrating
  • Your plant care efforts will not be wasted, and your plants will grow to live long lives
  • A lush green garden, or a variety of healthy potted house plants will instantly improve your house’s outlook
  • The pH balanced fruits and vegetables you grow will be healthier and tastier

What are the Benefits of Changing Your Soil’s pH Levels?

  • Gardening and plant care will become more therapeutic and less frustrating
  • Your plant care efforts will not be wasted, and your plants will grow to live long lives
  • A lush green garden, or a variety of healthy potted house plants will instantly improve your house’s outlook
  • The pH balanced fruits and vegetables you grow will be healthier and tastier

Why Should You Use Lemon Juice to Decrease the pH Level of Soil?

While you can use a wide variety of materials and liquids to reduce your soil’s pH, lemon juice is a global favorite.

Some of the reasons you should also use lemon juice to reduce soil’s pH levels are as follows:

  • Lemon juice is easily available
  • It is generally affordable
  • Lemon juice does not go bad and can be refrigerated for long periods
  • It is very easy to spray a diluted lemon juice solution into the potting soil. As a result, bigger micronutrients will break down even faster.
  • Lemon juice’s acidity is excellent for most plant species.
  • Apart from decreasing the soil’s pH, lemon juice will also protect your plants from ants and many common plant pests.

Why Should You Use Lemon Juice to Decrease the pH Level of Soil?

While you can use a wide variety of materials and liquids to reduce your soil’s pH, lemon juice is a global favorite.

Some of the reasons you should also use lemon juice to reduce soil’s pH levels are as follows:

  • Lemon juice is easily available
  • It is generally affordable
  • Lemon juice does not go bad and can be refrigerated for long periods
  • It is very easy to spray a diluted lemon juice solution into the potting soil. As a result, bigger micronutrients will break down even faster.
  • Lemon juice’s acidity is excellent for most plant species.
  • Apart from decreasing the soil’s pH, lemon juice will also protect your plants from ants and many common plant pests.

Final Thoughts

If your plants continue to lack proper growth despite seasonal fertilization, you should find ways to alter and change the soil’s pH.

If the plant prefers a more alkaline soil, add in some lime solution, and if the soil needs slight acidity, add in some lemon solution.