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Soil pH

Most plants do well in soil with a pH of 6.5, slightly acid. (see pH Values) . However, rhododendron, camellias, azaleas, blueberries, ferns, spruce, pines, firs, and red cedar prefer soil with a pH of 4.0 to 5.0. Pines, firs, holly, daphne, spruce oak, birch, willow, rhododendron, alder, and red cedar grow well in soil with a 5.0 to 6.0 pH. Soils with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 will grow maple, mountain ash, pansy, asters, peaches, carrots, lettuce, pines, firs, alder, and red cedar. Beech, mock orange, asparagus and sagebrush tolerate soils with a pH 7.0 to 8.0. Above 8.5 the soil is too alkaline for most plants and soil with a pH less than 3.5 is too acid. Each soil layer may have a different pH.

To determine soil pH, a universal indicator or pH paper can be used. Put a small amount of the soil to be tested in a clear or white container. Do not touch the sample. Pour a small amount of universal indicator over the soil. Match the color of the indicator with the pH color chart. If using indicator paper, pour a small amount of water on the soil sample. Touch the indicator paper to the sample and match to color of the paper to the pH color chart.

Soil pH can be raised, making the soil less acidic and more alkaline, by adding lime to the soil.

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