Plants That Need Acid Soil Conditions Exclusively

Updated on July 3, 2017

Beautiful White Flower Racemes of a Pieris japonica

Pieris japonica
Pieris japonica | Source

Plants that Require Acid Soil Conditions Exclusively

Acid Soils Only

Many plants are listed that thrive on acid soils, but on closer inspection can also cope with neutral or even alkaline conditions. This is not particularly helpful if you're looking for plants that require an acid soil exclusively.

Here are some plants that fit that category, which should be useful either for students of Horticulture, or people that are simply interested in knowing which plants require acid soils only.

Searching for a few plants that like acid soils exclusively can be time consuming. While there are searchable databases that can be searched by specific characteristics, such as this searchable database from The National Gardening Association, the problem arises that it does not specify whether these plants exclusively require an acid soil.

A plant liking an extremely high acidity might suggest that such a plant cannot tolerate a neutral soil, for example, but it might not be the case always. For example, a search for plants on the RHS website (The Royal Horticultural Society) of Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard', shows that it likes acid soil conditions, which we would expect as it is a conifer, but also specifies that it likes neutral conditions as well. See photo for screenshot.

Searching is further frustrated by the fact, that while the RHS website provides clearly detailed information, there are many plants which it simply has no detailed information about.

The list here is for plants that are really exclusively for acid soils. Perhaps an academic exercise but interesting nevetherless!

If you have anymore that can be added, please let me know.


RHS Website Showing Plant Requirements

pH requirements for Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard'. It likes Acid soils, but also deals with Neutral soils.
pH requirements for Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard'. It likes Acid soils, but also deals with Neutral soils.

Which Plants Like Acid Soils Exclusively?

Latin name
Common name
Example cultivar
Family
Calluna vulgaris
Heather
Calluna vulgaris 'Glenfiddich'
Ericaceae
Crinodendron hookerianum
Chile lantern tree
 
Elaeocarpaceae
Pieris japonica
Japanese andromeda, Japanese pieris, lily-of-the-valley bush
Pieris japonica 'Prelude'
Ericaceae
Rhododendron ponticum
Common rhododendron, pontic rhododendron
Rhododendron ponticum 'Filigran'
Ericaceae
Vaccinium corymbosum
Blueberry
Vaccinium corymbosum 'Duke'
Ericaceae

These five example are plants that specifically prefer or need an acid soil, rather being able to cope with an acid soil as well as a neutral one, such as Camellia (from the Theaceae family).

If there are any more plants that require acid soils exclusively, please let me know.

Negative anions hold onto positive cations in soils that have a low pH

Pieris japonica blossoms
Pieris japonica blossoms | Source

Soil Acidity and Nutrition

Acid soils are sometimes called 'sour soils' and are called acid because the particles in the soil have a mainly negative electrical charge, due to the concentration of hydrogen ions. The British Isles, for example, are known to have 'sour' soils overall, due its geology and weather. This negative charge allows the soil solution to hold onto positive elements such as Potassium (K+), Magnesium (Mg+) and Calcium (Ca+) which are three major nutrients necessary for plant health.

At Altitude, the Himalayan Origins of the Rhododendron Become Apparent

Rhododendron myrtifolium (kotschyi)
Rhododendron myrtifolium (kotschyi) | Source

Soil Acidity and Soil Structure

The ability of a soil to attract positive particles is called floculation (the joining together of particles) and is most readily achieved with humus (where there are clay particles), where the rich decayed material coats and binds mineral particles. A soil is said to have cation exchange capacity if negative particles attract positive particles, where cation and anion exchanges take place.

The pH of a soil (its measure of acidity) is therefore intrinsically linked to the structure of the soil, that is, the arrangement of particles. Soils such as clay, and humus, are therefore said to be acidic and have good cation exchange capacity, as they resist any drastic changes to their pH levels.

Clay soil for example consists of many small particles that overall have a larger surface area, as compared to sandy soils, as grains of sand are large compared to clay particles. This extra surface area due to the greater number of smaller particles allows more particles to bind, while the smaller spaces between the particles allows less water runoff. This is also referred to as the water holding capacity (WHC) of the soil - clay soils have a high WHC, whereas sandy soils have a low WHC. Note the direct link between water holding capacity and the cation exchange capacity - clay soils have a very good cation exchange capacity, resisting change to pH, and have a high WHC whereas sandy soils have a low cation exchange capacity, and do not resist changes to pH in the soil.

This is why clay soils are heavy and usually damp and difficult to change. This is also why clay soil is called a 'late' soil, as it takes much longer to warm up in spring, compared to sandy soil. This is worth thinking about for growers who wish to maximize their growing season.


Blueberries
Blueberries | Source

How to Make a soil More Acidic

If your soil is very alkaline, incorporating bulky organic matter helps lower the pH. This can be in the way of pine needles and well decomposed compost or adding sulphur chips. Blueberries for example need a pH of 4.5-5.5, which is a very low pH, and are very particular about the soil's acidity. They will not grow well if planted in an alkaline soil. If the pH of the soil is higher than 8, it's best to plant blueberries in a container as there is little that can be done to lower such high alkalinity.

Rhododendrons will require the soil to be managed if its alkaline, staying away from enriching the soil with multi-purpose composts that often have lime in them (which has an alkalizing effect on the soil). There are plenty of composts designed specifically for acid loving plants and Ericaceous borders, called Ericaceous composts.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      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, dengarden.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://dengarden.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)