Perfect Plants for Alkaline Soil

Plants for alkaline soil-a two-story white house with a white picket fence enclosing a yellow forsythia hedge trees and garden borders
My Garden Life
April 17, 2023
Table of Contents

The pH level of the soil in your garden can be the difference between plants that thrive and plants that wither. If you have found that your soil is alkaline, there is no need to amend the soil to fill your garden with delightful plants and flowers. Different plants have different pH needs. These are the perfect plants for alkaline soil.

These are the Perfect Plants for Alkaline Soil

1. Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Lilac shrubs are well-loved for their delightful fragrant blooms and ability to tolerate a variety of soil types, including alkaline soil. Lilacs come in white and many shades of purple. They grow best in full sun and slightly alkaline soil with a pH from 7.0 – 8.5.

Plants for alkaline soil-Lilac shrub-Syringa vulgaris-in full bloom with large clusters of lavender-purple flowers

2. Statice (Limonium perezii)

Statice is a favorite perennial plant for coastal gardeners because it tolerates salt well and alkaline soil. The purple-hued sea lavender (Limonium perezii) and its pink cousin, German statice (Limonium tataricum) perform best in full sun in areas with hot, dry summers. They like the soil to have a pH from 7.0 – 8.0.

Plants for alkaline soil-Statice plants-Limonium perezii-in a mulched garden border with clusters of purple flowers held on tall stems above the clump of foliage

3. Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronarius)

The dense foliage of mock orange shrubs makes them a wonderful choice for creating a hedgerow. The sweet, citrus-like fragrance of its white blossoms inspire the name mock orange. This alkaline-loving shrub does well in slightly acidic to strongly alkaline soil with a range from 6.1 – 9.0 pH. Mock orange loves full sun, but can tolerate partial shade.

Plants for alkaline soil-mock orange shrub-Philadelphus coronarius-covered with white flowers

4. Forsythia (Forsythia hybrid)

Forsythia shrubs are best known for their brilliant, golden blooms that are some of the first flowers to appear in the spring.  The blooms attract birds, bees, and butterflies. Their high tolerance for cold makes forsythia a favorite in Northern climates. They thrive in full sun and slightly alkaline soil with a pH from 7.0 – 8.0.

Plants for alkaline soil-A hedge of forsythia shrubs bordering a lawn with large trees in the background

5. Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster species)

With its pleasant, white blossoms in spring, red and yellow hues in the fall, and bright berries in the winter, cotoneaster is a shrub with year-round appeal. Though not edible for humans (but not poisonous), the berries attract birds and other wildlife. They like sun to part shade and prefer a slightly alkaline soil to 8.0 pH.

Plants for alkaline soil-close up of cotoneaster shrub branches covered with vibrant red berries

6. Mullein (Verbascum x hybrida)

Mullein’s tall spikes look great popping up among other perennial plants in the landscape. The vibrant flowers come in shades of pink, purple, and white and work well in cut flower bouquets. Mullein can tolerate severe cold to -30°F (-34° C).  Mullein loves full sun and can handle soil that is slightly acidic to strongly alkaline; all the way up to 9.0 pH.

Plants for alkaline soil-close up of pink mullein flower spikes-Verbascum hybrida-planted among white daisies and purple sea holly

7. Fig Tree (Ficus carica)

If you’re looking to plant a fruit tree in alkaline soil, try a fig tree. Figs grow best in mild temperatures, though some species are cultivated to do well in cold climates. Fig trees tend to bear fruit three to four years after being planted, but they are worth the wait. Fresh figs are delicious in salads, paired with cheese, or in various recipes. Plant your fig tree in full sun to partial shade in soil with a pH between 6.5 to 8.0.

Plants for alkaline soil-a close up of a fig branch-Ficus carica-showing its deeply lobed foliage and green figs maturing along the branches

8. Yew (Taxus species)

There are many species of yew including: dense yew with its lush, dense foliage; spreading yew, which is low and hardy; and upright yew, a taller species that is perfect for creating a tall privacy hedge. These evergreen shrubs make great hedges and enjoy mildly alkaline soils up to 7.5 pH. Yews can grow in all sun conditions from full sun to full shade.

Plants for alkaline soil-three English yew shrubs-Taxus baccata-in a tidy mulched garden bed with lawn in the background

9. Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Oleander is a popular ornamental shrub that works well as a border, hedge, or potted plant. But be aware; all parts of this shrub are toxic. Oleanders are beautiful but may not be your best option if you have pets that might nibble the foliage or small children. Oleander is a great plant for alkaline soil, thriving in pH levels up to 8.3. Plant in full sun.

Plants for alkaline soil-close up of Nerium oleander pink flower clusters on a shrub growing in front of a rustic rock wall

10. Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Barberry shrubs are popular for their adaptability to a wide range of light conditions and the numerous cultivars that are available with vibrant foliage colors. Dazzling reds and golds will brighten the border of any landscape. Some barberry species produce edible sweet/tart berries that are sometimes found in Middle Eastern recipes and have been used medicinally for centuries. These shrubs thrive in full sun or partial shade and they like alkaline soil up to 7.8 pH.

Plants for alkaline soil-a red-leaf barberry shrub-Berberis thunbergii-growing in a formal terraced gravel garden featuring assorted evergreen shrubs

11. Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)

Carnations and their dianthus cousins are alkaline-loving perennials. With their frilly blooms that come in a wide array of colors, carnations are sure to embellish any landscape. Of course, carnations also make lovely cut flower arrangements. They thrive on at least four to five hours of direct sun each day and alkaline soil of 7.0 – 8.0 pH.

Plants for alkaline soil-close up of two-toned pink and rose carnation flowers-Dianthus caryophyllus

12. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

Foxglove is a perennial plant with tall flower stalks that create remarkable vertical interest in the garden. The speckled flowers resemble columns of delicate trumpets and come in a variety of colors. Plant foxglove in partial to full sun and in soil with 4.5 – 8.3 pH. You’ll enjoy watching the hummingbirds and bumblebees that foxglove flowers attract.

Plants for alkaline soil-close up of a row of foxglove flower spikes-Digitalis purpurea-in shades of pink and purple

Planting in unsatisfactory pH conditions causes problems like yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and brown spots. The pH level can directly affect the soil nutrients available to plants. For a better understanding of nutrient needs, read our article on Nutrient Deficiencies in Plants.

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