Fertilizers are like nutritional supplements for garden plants. Though not all are created with an equal amount of nutrients. Some plants need minerals such as calcium or magnesium, while others, such as roses, do well with acidic soil.
Rather than using fertilizers made of unknown ingredients, acidic fertilizers can be made out of ingredients found around the kitchen. As an added benefit, you’ll be repurposing some things you might otherwise throw away, such as coffee grounds and eggshells.
Fertilizers designed for plants that thrive in acidic soil help neutralize and correct high-pH problems. These plant foods encourage acidic soil and provide added iron and other micronutrients through specialized formulas.
In plant disease condition known as chlorosis, the changing of the leaves color to pale green or yellow is the most prominent sign. However, in acid-loving plants, a lack of iron or magnesium is often the cause. Unless these pH-induced deficiencies are corrected, leaves and branches suffer leading to the health of plants failing.
Soil pH and Plant Health
The plant and soil health is linked to soil pH. When soil pH moves above the neutral point of 7.0 to the alkaline range, some nutrients get “tied up” so plants can’t utilize them. The same thing happens when soil pH moves below 7.0 to the range known as acidic. When soil pH shifts, quantities of soil nutrients do not necessarily change, but their availability to plants does. Meeting plant needs starts with preparation. With the help of soil amendments, which modify the soil and its pH, the foundation plant needs can be provided.
Soil testing is the best place to start. An accurate soil sample from your planting area yields information on soil pH and other keys for plant health and growth. Soil testing laboratories will also recommend how to amend your specific soil for acid-loving plants.
If your soil pH is too high for this special group, you’ll need to lower it to keep plants healthy. For homegrown blueberries, for example, soil pH should be 4.5 to 5.5. Soil tests may recommend amendments such as elemental sulfur, which naturally lowers soil pH when mixed into soil, or an ammonium sulfate product, such as Lilly Miller Ammonium Sulfate 21-0-0, which feeds plants necessary nitrogen and lowers soil pH faster than elemental sulfur.
At lower pH levels, azaleas and rhododendrons sometimes need added calcium. Gypsum products, such as Pennington Fast Acting Gypsum, may be prescribed to provide calcium without changing the soil pH, and to improve soil structure.
Most plants grow best with soil in the slightly acidic range of 6.0 to 7.0, where major plant nutrients stay readily available. But some essential nutrients, including iron, become more available to plants as pH levels drop. Acid-loving plants need larger quantities of these nutrients, so they thrive when soil stays near 5.5 pH. At these acidic levels, acid loving plants can access the nutrients they need for optimal health, beauty and performance.
Causes Of Soil Acidity
Soil pH is influenced by the kind of parent material from which the soil was formed. Rainfall also affects pH. As water passes through soil it leaches basic nutrients such as calcium and magnesium from the soil, which are replaced with acidic elements such as aluminum and iron. For this reason, soils formed under high rainfall conditions are more acidic than those formed under dry conditions. Acid rain which is caused by pollution also has an influence on soil pH. Applying fertilizers containing ammonium or urea speeds up the rate at which acidity develops in the soil. The decomposition of organic matter also adds to soil acidity.
Fertilizers Recommended For Acid Loving Plants
#1. Pine Needles
Pine needles serve two purposes for acid-loving plants: they act as a fertilizer, increasing the acidity of the soil, and also function as a suitable mulch or ground cover for the areas immediately surrounding the plant. The needles help retain moisture in the soil as well, resulting in an all-around better growing environment for acid-loving plants.
#2. Organic Compounds
Peat moss, compost, and manure make an acidic soil fertilizer that can be mixed into the soil that’s too alkaline. Compost that already contains coffee grounds will be more acidic, as an added benefit to your plants. These organic compounds, especially compost, contain other nutrients that also benefit the soil, such as nitrogen or magnesium, depending on what organic materials broke down to make the compost.
Lilly Miller UltraGreen Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Food 10-5-4 fertilizer combines natural ingredients with traditional plant food in a blend that acts fast and then slowly releases nutrients for up to three months. Lilly Miller Rhododendron, Evergreen & Azalea Food 10-5-4, with cottonseed meal and other natural ingredients, feeds acid-loving plants for up to six weeks.
#3. Ironite Plus Plant Food 12-10-10
This is a product that tackles iron chlorosis with iron, sulfur, and extra minerals in a fast-acting form. It is a ready-to-spray solution, which delivers iron and other nutrients straight to needy leaves
#4. Pennington Epsom Salt,
This formula delivers the needed magnesium to acid-loving plants such as blueberries. It is a magnesium sulfate product.
#5. Coffee Ground Fertilizer
Coffee is naturally acidic. So also are the grounds once they have been used. Coffee ground fertilizer is very good for roses and other acid-loving garden plants. Spread used coffee grounds on a cookie sheet or old newspaper page and allow them to dry completely in sun for about 2-3 days. This serves as an excellent soil amendment or fertilizer for acid-loving plants. They also break down over time, releasing more nutrients into the soil and even providing food for beneficial worms in the garden.
#6. Eggshell Fertilizer
Eggshell fertilizer can be applied to all kinds of plants. Gather egg shells and allow them to dry. Place the dried shell in the blender and grind until they are turned to a fine powder. Sprinkle in your garden. Eggshells are made up of calcium carbonate.
#7. Fish Tank Fertilizer
Fish tank fertilizer can be used as fertilizer for any plants. The dirty water from the fish tank is collected and is used to water plants. Used fish tank water is full of nitrogen and other ingredients that plants need to thrive.
List Of Acid-Loving Plants
Acid-loving plants aren’t picky; they just have special needs and requirements. These plants thrive in soils with low pH.
- Mountain Ash
- Mountain Laurel
- White Cedar
Azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, and blueberries are just four of the plants that love to sink their roots in acidic soil. Gardeners label these plants “acid-loving,” but it’s not acid these plants seek. Rather, they crave the nutrients that low-pH, acidic soil provides. Give acidic-loving plants the soil, care, and nutrients they need, and they’ll reward you with beauty and bounty.
For taking care of your garden including plants and lawn you should also consider choosing the right garden tools. You can read the source about wide lawn sweepers if you want to keep your lawn beautiful and clean.