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 acidic, 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 acidic soil.
Perfect Plants for Acidic Soil
1. Azalea (Rhododendron species)
Azaleas are flowering shrubs that can come in shades of purple, pink, red, orange, yellow, and white. Plant them where they will get partial shade to partial sun – filtered shade under nearby trees is a great spot. Azaleas like acidic soil with a pH range between 4.5 – 6.0.
2. Camellia (Camellia japonica)
The dazzling flowers on this beautiful shrub (and the equally stunning Camellia hiemalis and Camellia sasanqua varieties) embellish any landscape. Camellias thrive in acidic soils from 4.5 – 6.5 pH. They love full or partial shade and will tolerate sunny areas if it doesn’t get too hot.
3. Bleeding Heart (Dicentra species)
Bleeding heart gets its name from the red, puffy, heart-shaped flowers that dangle like a row of delicate pendants along the stems. These perennials enjoy partial to full shade. Dicentra likes soil that is only slightly acidic with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 (neutral).
4. Lily of the Valley Shrub, Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)
Lily of the valley shrub usually produces a long row of fragrant white flowers, but they can also be found in shades of pink. Several varieties produce new growth that is brilliant red, eventually turning green as the leaves matures. Lily of the valley shrub thrives in dappled shade to full shade and likes soil that is below 6.0 pH.
5. Blue Floss Flower (Ageratum houstonianum)
Blue floss flower, or ageratum, is actually available in shades of lavender, purple, pink, and white as well. The fuzzy flowers add a pop of color to any annual garden. Shorter varieties are great for use as edging along paths, walkways, and borders. In the north, ageratum can handle the full sun, but in the hot south, it’s best to plant them in partial shade. Ageratum is an acid-loving annual flower that can tolerate soil acid from 5.5 to 7.5 pH.
6. Holly (Ilex species)
The glossy green leaves and brilliant red berries of the holly shrub are spectacular in a winter garden. Many species have interesting, scalloped leaves with pointy tips. Holly’s compact growth makes it a favorite for use in hedgerows. They like acidic soil (3.8 – 6.0 pH) and full sun to part shade.
7. Cranberry Viburnum Bush (Viburnum trilobum)
The cranberry bush gets its name from the bright red berries that appear in the late fall and linger into winter, attracting winter birds. These berries are not true cranberries; however, they are easier to grow and can easily be used like cranberries to make jams, jellies, and juice. Plant cranberry bush where it will get sun to part shade. This shrub loves slightly acidic soil with 5.5 – 6.5 pH.
8. Magnolia (Magnolia species)
Some magnolias have small, star-shaped blooms, while others have wide blossoms, but all varieties have beautiful, fragrant flowers. Varieties are available in shades of pink to white. To get the most out of a magnolia, plant it in full sun to part shade. Whether it’s a tree or a shrub type, magnolias like the pH to be below 6.0.
9. Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)
The Colorado blue spruce’s pleasing blue-gray tint, classic conical Christmas tree shape, and sturdy branches make it perfect for use as a Christmas tree. Full sun to partial shade is perfect for this northern beauty. Colorado blue spruce are acid loving trees that thrive in soil with a pH between 4.5 to 6.0 but they can tolerate a much wider range of soil, from extremely acidic to alkaline.
10. Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
Also known as Eastern hemlock, the flat, two-toned green needles give this tree a soft, feathery look. When planted close together, their dense foliage makes a beautiful hedgerow. Don’t worry, Tsuga is not the poisonous kind of hemlock. Hemlock trees grow best in soil with a pH from 4.0 to 7.0 and they like full to partial shade.
11. Liriope (Liriope muscari)
Liriope is a grassy perennial with lush, narrow foliage and spikes of violet flowers. Varieties are available with solid green foliage, or green and white striped foliage. When planted on a gradual slope, liriope helps control erosion. Their low, dense leaves look great in front of taller plants and along pathways. It’s also useful for creating a ground cover. Liriope likes mildly acidic soil from 6.0 – 7.0 pH and can tolerate many different light conditions from full sun to almost full shade.
12. Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)
Japanese pachysandra is a hardy ground cover with clusters of tiny white flowers at the center of its whorls of dark green leaves. They spread nicely and look cute spilling over a garden wall. Partial to full shade is best for this evergreen perennial and they like mildly acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 – 6.0.
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.