Annual Flowers for Acidic Soil

Written by daniel lee
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Annual Flowers for Acidic Soil
Nasturtiums do well in acidic soil and are lovely in the garden. (nasturtium 23 image by mdb from Fotolia.com)

Many gardeners love an ever-changing garden filled with colourful annual flowers. But soil acidity can have a dramatic effect on the success of any garden, especially one built around annual blossoms. Soils with a pH level of 1 to 7 on a 14-point scale are considered acidic. Although many flowers do well in slightly acidic soils, selecting annual flowers for soil that is more acidic can be a challenge.

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Soil Acidity

Soils are graded on a pH scale of 1 to 14, with numbers 1 through 7.0 considered acidic, and 7.1 through 14 alkaline. Acidic soil is often challenging because it can interfere with the way the plant takes up nutrients. Determine what kind of soil you have before you plan your garden, so you can match plants to particular soil types. You can also adjust the relative acidity of your soil using amendments.

Annual Flowers for Acidic Soil
Beautiful gardens can grow from a variety of soils. (garden image by Krzysztof Gebarowski from Fotolia.com)

Determining Your Soil Type

A good way to match your plantings to your soil is to get a soil test kit, often available from cooperative extension services operated by colleges and universities or from commercial garden supply stores. The kits contain instructions, soil collection tools and a mailing pouch to send in your sample. Your results will be mailed to you or sometimes can be obtained online. The result report often provides extra information such as fertility and nutrient levels.

Annual Flowers for Acidic Soil
Testing your soil will guide your choice of plantings. (Digging in the garden image by dquinnan from Fotolia.com)

Annual Flowers

Annual flowers typically live out their growing cycle in one year. Since annuals are replanted every year, some gardeners find them especially useful in giving their gardens a new look every summer. Some annuals, like annual vinca (Catharanthus roseus) or French marigold (Tagetes patula), do reasonably well in slightly acidic soil -- roughly between 6.0 and 7.0 on the pH scale. If you have even more acidic soils try nasturtiums (Tropaedum majus) and the popular butterfly flower (Schizanthus).

Annual Flowers for Acidic Soil
Marigolds are attractive, easy to grow annual flowers popular with many gardeners. (marigold image by Igor Pashin from Fotolia.com)

Ivy Leaf Geranium

An attractive annual flower for acidic soils is the ivy leaf geranium (Pelargonium peltatum). Often chosen for window boxes in Europe, the geranium adapts to container culture or bedding plant arrangements. Doing well in soils with a pH below 6.0, the geranium's growth suffers when acidity reaches about 5.5. Addition of lime can bring acidity levels into a more tolerable range for ivy leaf geraniums.

Place your geraniums in a wind-protected spot where they'll get full sun for six to eight hours a day and you'll enjoy colourful and healthy blooms all summer.

Annual Flowers for Acidic Soil
Ivy leaf geraniums bloom in whites, pinks, reds and into deep purples. (ivy leaf geranium image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

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