ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Definition of Alkaline Soil

Updated on October 10, 2012
Zinnia elegans grows well in slightly alkaline soil.
Zinnia elegans grows well in slightly alkaline soil. | Source

pH

On a scale of 0 to 14, pH is a measurement of the level of hydrogen ions in relationship to hydroxyl ions that exist within soil.


Alkaline Soil

Soil that is alkaline has a pH reading above 7.0.


Acidic Soil

Acidic soil measures below 7.0 on the pH scale.


Neutral Soil

Soil with a reading of 7.0 has neutral pH. Most plants prefer soil at or near neutral.

What is alkaline soil?

Alkaline soil, sometimes referred to as "sweet" soil, registers above 7.0 on the pH scale. Unlike acidic soil, which has a pH value of less than 7.0, alkaline soil contains more hydroxyl ions than hydrogen ions.

The Importance of pH

Soil pH is important because it affects the availability of nutrients in the soil. If soil is too alkaline or too acidic, many nutrients that plants require for optimum growth—or even survival—are not accessible to them.

The majority of plants grow best in relatively neutral soil that falls within a range of 6-7.5 pH, a little above or below 7.0. At these levels, the essential nutrients most plants need are most available to them. However, just as some plants prefer acidic soil, a number of plants grow best in soil that is a bit alkaline. (See the chart below.)

The Law of Tolerance

In ecology, the law of tolerance refers to a plant's ability to live in a broad range of pH values.

Plants with high tolerance may perform poorly in soil with pH values outside their preferred range, but they won't die.

Some plants, most notably weeds and other invasive types, have a very high tolerance for a wide range of pH levels (Foerster 17).


Slightly alkaline soil is just right for sunflowers, too.
Slightly alkaline soil is just right for sunflowers, too. | Source

What if soil is too alkaline?

To determine soil pH, run a soil test. If your soil is too alkaline to suit the plants you're growing, you can increase its acidity by adding organic matter. Over time, organic material, such as sphagnum peat moss, composted manure, leaf mold and other natural amendments, tends to bring soil pH values at or near neutral (7.0).

Although slow-acting, granular sulfur is an inexpensive amendment that will lower soil pH. Elemental sulfur, aluminum sulfate and iron sulfate will also decrease soil alkalinity (Everhart).

Trees, Vegetables, Flowers & Other Plants That Like Sweet Soil

Common Name
Scientific Name
Preferred pH Level
Abelia
Abelia grandiflora
6.0-7.5
Asparagus
Asparagus officinalis
6.0-7.5
Canna
Canna spp.
6.0-8.0
Cherry (Sweet)
Prunus avium
6.0-7.5
Cotoneaster
Cotoneaster spp.
6.0-7.5
Currant
Ribes spp.
6.0-7.5
Dahlia
Dahlia variablis
6.0-7.5
Delphinium
Delphinium grandiflorum
6.0-7.5
Elm
Ulmus americana
6.0-7.5
Fern (Maidenhair)
Adiantum pedatum
6.0-7.5
Forsythia
Forsythia spp.
6.0-8.0
Hyacinth
Hyacinthus candicans
6.5-7.5
Ivy (Boston)
Parthenocissus tricuspidata, var. veitchii
6.0-7.5
Lilac (Persian)
Syringa persica
6.0-7.5
Linden
Tilia spp.
6.0-8.0
Maple (Sugar)
Acer saccharum
6.0-7.2
Mint
Mentha arvensis
6.8-7.5
Okra
Hibiscus esculentus
6.0-7.5
Pachysandra (Japanese)
Pachysandra terminalis
5.0-8.0
Pea (Sweet)
Lathyrus odoratus
6.0-7.5
Pecan
Carya illinoinensis
6.5-7.5
Peony
Paeonia albiflora
6.0-7.5
Poplar (Silver)
Populus alba
6.0-7.5
Poppy
Poppy orientale
6.0-7.5
Spinach
Spinacia oleracea
6.0-7.5
Sunflower
Helianthus augustifolius, H. annus
6.0-7.5
Violet
Viola canina
6.0-7.5
Violet (Blue)
Viola paplionacea
5.0-7.5
Walnut (Black)
Juglans nigra
6.0-7.5
Watercress
Nasturtium aquaticum
6.0-7.5
Wisteria (Japanese)
Wisteria floribunda
6.5-7.5
Yucca
Yucca spp.
6.0-8.0
Zinnia
Zinnia elegans
5.5-7.5
 
 
 

Works Cited

Everhart, Eldon. "How to Change Your Soil's pH." Horticulture & Home Pest News. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. 6 April 1994. Web. 10 October 2012.

Foerster, John. "Ecology." Maryland Master Gardener Handbook. University of Maryland, 2008: 5-20. Print.

State Fair Zinnia
State Fair Zinnia | Source

About the Author

The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.

She first began gardening alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm. Together, they would plant acres of vegetable gardens, setting tomato, eggplant and bell pepper plants; sowing row after row of beans and corn; and building up mounds of soil for white squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe and potatoes.

Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.

Copyright © 2012 by The Dirt Farmer. All rights reserved.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Derdriu. You have berry bushes? How wonderful! They do seem to love acidic soil. Nice to hear from you! Take care, Jill

    • profile image

      Derdriu 

      7 years ago

      Jill, Isn't it interesting that so many of the commonly cultivated and house plants tend to prefer soil whose pH is in the neutral range between acidic and alkaline?

      And then there are the trees such as the chestnuts, oaks and pines that act to acidify soil and the waters into which their soil may slip and slide! It's in those areas that my acidic pH-loving berry thickets thrive.

      Respectfully, and with many thanks for sharing, Derdriu

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Carol! Not the most exciting topic, but ... the info's good to know. Thanks for stopping by, Jill

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      I always knew that alkali is a good thing..eating as much alkali foods is best for our health. Learned a lot here as always . thanks for the great information. Voted UP and sharing.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)