Testing soil pH is needed in figuring out when soil is Acidic or Alkaline. As a houseplant lover, a proper understanding of soil pH could make all the difference for your plant. This is because some plants need a certain soil pH range to thrive.
If the soil pH range doesn’t meet the plant’s requirement. It won’t be able to absorb all the nutrients needed for proper growth.
There are certain ways or methods to approach soil pH testing. These are;
- Lab testing
- Testing through test strips
- Testing through kitchen supplies
But before getting into all that, it is important to know what you are looking for in these tests.
How Does Soil pH Work?
By measuring the pH of the soil, you would be searching for how many hydrogen ions are found in the soil. This can be done on a scale that ranges from 1 to 14.
If the soil pH falls between 1 to 7 on that scale, it means it is acidic in nature. If the soil pH ranges between 7 to 14, then we have alkaline soil.
Soil pH can be changed using certain substances. To make the soil more acidic in nature, you can make use of coffee on the plants. For the plant soil to be more alkaline, you can consider adding lime to it.
When Should You Test Your Soil pH Level?
There are lots of factors that could affect soil pH levels. Some of these factors are natural. This is why a proper pH test for soil should be done at regular intervals.
The best time to check your soil pH level should be before the next planting season. Having this sort of information in hand could prove useful for the plants you intend to grow.
Rains during the fall season can have drastic effects on the pH level of soil. So it is recommended you carry out a pH test during this season.
How To Test Soil for pH Level
Testing your soil in a lab is the most accurate way of determining its pH level. Doing this could give you the exact range of acidity or Alkalinity.
To do this, you would need to send a sample of your soil in a well-packaged container to a lab. There are lots of labs in the United States that offer soil testing. Any agricultural lab should offer the needed soil pH test.
Testing Soil pH Using DIY Testing strips
If you can’t make out time to have your soil sample tested in a lab, you can purchase a DIY test strip. They are affordable and can still provide you with accurate results. You can also purchase one with ease online or at a garden center. Here’s how to perform the test.
Step 1. Get The Soil Sample
This can be achieved by digging into the soil and collecting a few samples in a container. You can make use of a transparent container. It would make it easier to see and collect unwanted debris, stones, and sticks.
Step 2. Add Distilled Water
Once the soil has been cleaned, you can then pour some distilled water into the container. With that done, stir the mix for a while and leave it to settle for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
After the time has elapsed, proceed to drain the mix. This can be done by pouring it into another container through a coffee filter. The filter would help in separating the liquid from the mix and letting it flow into the other container.
Step 3. Dip The Strip
Dip the test strip into the container with the liquid mix for a time period that is directed by the packaging.
Once the test strip changes color, you can then compare it to the color chart provided by the packaging. You can carry out these tests again at different parts of your garden to be sure.
Using Kitchen or Home Supplies
Baking soda and Vinegar can also be used in determining soil pH. This is because acid solutions always react to basic substances. The use of baking soda and vinegar in checking soil pH does not provide accurate results.
Step 1. Get The Soil Sample
You would need to get the soil sample into a transparent container. Ensure it is clean by checking for debris, sticks, or stones and getting rid of them.
Once this has been done, you can then add some water to the container. Stir the solution until it is mud.
Step 2. Add Some Vinegar
The next step would be to add vinegar to the mix. ½ a cup of vinegar should be perfect. If the solution forms bubbles or foams, then the soil is alkaline in nature. If it doesn’t, repeat the process.
Step 3. Baking Soda
If after repeating the process, it doesn’t form bubbles, you can then test for acidity. Do this with a fresh, clean sample mixed with water (Step 1).
Instead of vinegar, add some baking soda (½ cup should be fine). If the mix foams or bubbles, then the soil is acidic in nature.
Frequently Asked Questions
For a more accurate result, consider taking the soil sample to a proper lab.
The normal pH of the soil can be extreme. It could range from a very acidic 3 to a very alkaline 10.
Most plants enjoy a little acidity in their soil. If the alkalinity is too high, the plant won’t grow well.
Excess acidity can be a bad thing for plants. It could deplete the necessary resources in the soil.
The best way would be through the use of chemical-based fertilizers.