ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is Acidic Soil?

Updated on October 3, 2012
Some plants, like pine, prefer acidic soil.
Some plants, like pine, prefer acidic soil. | Source


pH is a measurement of a soil that indicates it acidity or alkalinity on a scale of 0 to 14. Soil that is neutral has a pH value of 7.


Soil that falls below 7 on the pH scale is considered acidic. It has far more hydrogen ions than hydroxyl ions in its moisture content or soil solution.


Alkaline soil, which has a pH reading above 7, is sometimes referred to as "sweet" soil.

pH and Acidity

Soil is comprised of three parts: it contains solids, such as minerals, organic matter and microorganisms; liquids, including water and the materials that are dissolved in it; and air which, like our own atmosphere, consists of carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen and other gases.

Soil acidity refers to the potential hydrogen or pH that is found within the soil's liquid portion, also called the soil "solution." Soil pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14.

Soil that is acidic contains more hydrogen ions than hydroxyl ions, and it falls below 7 on the scale. Soil that is alkaline has a pH level that is above 7 on the scale

Although some plants perform best in acidic soil, most prefer soil that has a neutral pH ranging anywhere from 6.5 to 7.5 on the scale.

Negative Aspects of Acidic Soil

Plants that prefer soil with neutral pH may sicken or even die when planted in soil that is too acidic.

Soil acidity may stunt plant growth.

Acidic soil may contain less calcium and magnesium than most plants require for healthy growth. Additionally, other nutrients that many plants require, such as molybdenum and phosphorous, while present in acidic soil, may be inaccessible to plants.

Acidic soil can prove toxic to some plants.

On the other hand, acidic soil sometimes contains levels of aluminum, copper, iron, manganese and zinc that are unhealthy for the majority of plants. In fact, sometimes the levels can be toxic.

Acidic soil may not have the nitrogen levels that most plants need.

Acidic soil is also an inhospital environment for the bacteria that are part of nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is turned into a form that plants can use.

How to "Fix" Soil pH

Although a soil's pH level can be altered, there are no quick fixes for either low or high pH. Once amendments are added to the soil, it may take months for the pH level to change.

Organic Matter

Adding compost and other organic matter will ordinarily bring soil to the neutral pH level that the majority of plants prefer.


If, despite additions of organic matter, the soil pH remains too low (acidic), add lime.


Additions of sulfur will lower the pH of soil that is too sweet (alkaline). Adding a top-dressing of pine needles will also lower the pH level.


Mountain laurel and other rhodos prefer acidic soil.
Mountain laurel and other rhodos prefer acidic soil. | Source

Although most plants prefer soil with neutral pH, some popular landscaping plants, such as azalea, rhododendron and hydrangea, thrive in soil that is acidic.

Acid-Loving Plants
Preferred pH Levels
Ash Trees
Birch (European white)
Holly (English)
Lily of the Valley
Mountain Laurel
Pine (jack, loblolly, longleaf, white, yellow)
Spruce (red)


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • actionbronson profile image


      6 years ago

      Great article. Thumbs up and I'm now following your articles. Always have to have a perfect PH level. Great read

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi AkatturBD. Thanks for the feedback. Appreciate it! --Jill

    • AkatturBD profile image

      Mohamamd Sawkat 

      7 years ago from Dattapara

      Nice..... ;)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, 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:

    Show Details
    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 or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    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)
    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.
    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)