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Can anyone recommend a relatively inexpensive way to test for acid/alkaline soil?

Hi there,

Does anyone know of an inexpensive way to test for acid/alkaline soil please?

Thanks in advance!


  • B3B3 Posts: 25,247
    You could look at what's growing in your area and if you're in England, there's a website that someone has posted a link to a couple of times that will give you a pretty accurate  description.
    Hydrangea are a good indicator. Blue acid  - pink alkaline or neutral.
    Rhododendrons - acid 
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,237
    edited May 2021
    If the soil fizzes in the presence of vinegar, it is alkaline. If it fizzes in the presence of baking soda, it is acidic. A bit broad brush but a positive result will confirm one way or the other, if you don't have a conclusive result you could move on to a more accurate test kit.

    Agree on checking what grows locally, and you can also check the underlying bedrock, which usually influences the soil PH - sandstone being acidic, chalk being alkaline, clay *usually* slightly alkaline. 
  • Cambridgerose12Cambridgerose12 Posts: 1,120
    You can get a single test tube and colour chart for about £1.59 from most garden centres.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,432
    Mysoil testing kit was only ,£,5 the hydrangea thing mine is pink and Rhodo happy living near it,I was given a beautiful mauve one which went blue
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    It's much easier to tell if conditions are extreme and more difficult as you approach neutral. The cheap kits and a quick look round should do the trick unless you want to specialise with a particular group of plants that require very detailed knowledge. My heavy clay on chalk, much improved over the years, is slightly alkaline so no acid lovers or Mediterranean types.
  • UrbanNoviceUrbanNovice Posts: 29
    edited May 2021
    FlyDragon said:

    What an incredibly useful tool!
  • Shoxt3rShoxt3r Posts: 197
    Wow thank you so much for the really helpful, detailed replies!

    I used the soilscape website and it came back with "Freely draining slightly acid loamy soils" so I presume I'm doing the right thing by feeding the skimmias and other acid-loving plants with this Miracle Gro plant feed?

    I will look into the testing kits all the same though; thanks for the recommendations!
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