Gardens and Outdoors Plants

20 Plants That Grow in Acidic Soil

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One common problem faced by gardeners everywhere is the acidity of the soil in their yard. Instead of trying to amend your soil and get rid of the excessive acidity, why not add some plants that are specially adapted to flourish in this type of soil? Having soil with a pH that reaches a value of around 5.5 can actually be advantageous if you choose to grow certain acid-loving plants. From flowers to shrubs and trees, there are lots of great options to try.

The low pH in the soil lets these plants absorb nutrients more efficiently while filling your garden with floral splendor. We’ve included some of the most popular plants that grow successfully in acidic soil. Regardless of your type of garden, you should be able to find a fitting flower, tree, or shrub that lets you take full advantage of the lower pH of the soil.

1. Blue Ageratum

Commonly known as floss flower, this is a recommended plant if you’re troubled by acidic soil in your yard. The blue ageratum shows off pretty flowers that are usually blue or purple. Some varieties can also bloom in shades of pink and white. This plant is a breeze to grow successfully as long as you live in hardiness zone 10 or warmer. The soil of this annual should be well-drained and rich in organic matter. Blue ageratum is part of the aster family of plants and is often used as a bedding plant.

2. Rhododendron

Rhododendrons are acid-loving plants that are frequently found in many North American landscapes. They’re highly appreciated for their stunning blossoms that emerge in the spring. Most color varieties stick to a pink or purple palette but there are also rhododendrons found in shades of white and red. Thanks to being able to thrive in zones 5 through 8, these shrubs are quite versatile. Properly taking care of your rhododendron plants will often involve mulching and pruning. Most varieties perform best in shady conditions.

3. Magnolia

The beauty of a magnolia tree can be enjoyed if your yard has acidic soil. There are multiple types of magnolias to choose from besides the classic Southern magnolia. They can be planted as small trees that will add a lot of charm to any garden. In terms of sun exposure, magnolias can thrive in both full sun or part shade conditions. Most common varieties show off attractive blooms in shades of white and pink. It’s recommended to opt for rich soils with a decent amount of moisture to let a magnolia tree flourish.

4. Japanese Anemone

One particularly flexible plant in terms of growing conditions is the Japanese anemone. Except for soggy soil, this pretty flower can easily thrive almost everywhere it’s planted. These plants can put a beautiful show when they bloom in pale pink or white colors. The foliage brings some visual interest as well. Thanks to being able to thrive in shade and its tolerance for dry soils, the Japanese anemone can be a great option for many gardeners. It’s also recommended for containers. Woodland locations or areas under trees with acidic soil can work nicely for this plant.

5. Viburnum

If you’re looking to add an attractive shrub that can handle acidic soil, check out viburnum. It offers delicate-looking white blooms that contrast nicely with dark green foliage. There are many landscaping applications for viburnum shrubs. Depending on the specific variety, viburnums will flourish anywhere from full sun to part shade conditions. Loamy soils with reliable drainage seem to work best for this shrub. Besides the preference for acidity, viburnum enjoys medium moisture for its soil. One of the most popular types of this shrub is the doublefile viburnum that’s native to Far East regions.

6. Heather

Great for edging walkways and crowding out weeds, heather plants can also be recommended for gardeners that deal with acidic soil. This is a bushy shrub with flowering spikes that are known to attract pollinators like bees. Heather doesn’t grow very tall and shows off dense branches with pink double flowers. Thanks to its mat-forming habit, this dwarf shrub is recommended as ground cover. The plant can look beautiful when grown in containers as well. Just make sure you provide it with consistent moisture and well-drained acidic soil.

7. Bleeding Heart

Here’s a unique-looking plant that prefers acidic soil. Bleeding heart is highly appreciated for the brilliant appearance of its heart-shaped flowers. You can enjoy the beauty of this plant anywhere from hardiness zones 3 to 9. Woodland gardens and shady areas can be considered welcoming for bleeding hearts. The distinctive flowers grow on arching stems and will usually come in shades of pink and white. Blossoms emerge in the spring and don’t last very long so it’s recommended to pair bleeding hearts with other plants. Fertile and well-drained soil with full shade can help this plant thrive.

8. Holly

Holly shrubs like winterberry can grow more productively when they’re planted in acidic soil. These iconic plants are highly appreciated for the way they can rejuvenate the look of a winter landscape. This is thanks to how most hollies are evergreen. It also explains the traditional association with Christmas celebrations. One of the most popular varieties of holly is called ‘Blue Princess’. This shrub can grow up to 15 feet tall and bears bright red berries. The name is a reference to the bluish tinge found on its glossy, dark green leaves.

9. Camellia

With its rose-like flowers and love for acidic soils, camellia plants are a welcomed addition in any garden. This flower doesn’t tolerate frost very well so you will usually find it in southern areas with warmer climates. Camellia is considered a flowering shrub that boasts lush blooms in shades of pink, white, and red. There are multiple cultivars of camellia that you can try with some of the most popular being the japonica and sasanqua varieties. When growing conditions are optimal, this plant can produce a lot of colorful flowers in the spring.

10. Mountain Ash

If you’re looking for a tree that can be grown successfully in soil with lower pH, check out the mountain ash. Although it doesn’t have remarkable flowers, this tree can bring a lot of benefits to any yard. Many gardeners like it for its berries that can draw wild birds. The mountain ash can provide visual interest in the spring and summer. It’s recommended to plant it in full sun to allow it to reach its maximum growth potential of around 30 feet. This native Easter North America tree can be grown without problems within hardiness zones 3 through 8.

11. Nasturtium

These cool-season annual flowers can be considered ideal for bringing some fresh splashes of color to a garden. Nasturtium grows easily in multiple soil conditions including acidic types. The plant’s flowers have a very vibrant look in shades of yellow, orange, and red. Nasturtium plants are versatile enough to fill various gardening purposes. They can thrive with a bit of neglect and work amazingly well for borders and edges. Another interesting feature of this plant is that it has multiple edible parts, including the seed pods.

12. Bunchberry

Bunchberry is a perennial plant that thrives in wet, acidic soil. It’s often used as ground cover for shaded regions thanks to its characteristic leaves growing in whorls. Native landscapers can rely on bunchberry to create an authentic woodland garden. Aside from being a shade lover, bunchberry is also a plant that can be grown successfully in cold climate areas. The flower of bunchberry provides an attractive look with white bracts. As its name suggests, the plant will grow clusters of red berries. Bunchberry is recommended as a ground cover plant in Northern and coastal US regions.

13. Fothergilla

When it comes to low-maintenance shrubs, few plants can be considered as beautiful as the fothergilla. It features elegant white flowers with a distinctive scent. Fothergilla has multiple blooming times in spring, summer, and fall. The shrub requires a soil pH within 5.0 to 6.0 for optimal growth so it’s a great option for acidic areas. There are two main fothergilla species to consider for your garden – major and gardenia. Part of the reason why this plant is so low-maintenance is that it doesn’t need pruning. Fothergillas can adapt to different environments with ease.

14. Trillium

Trillium is a beautiful wildflower that’s found in its native habitat in various temperate areas of Asia and North America. You can definitely introduce this showy plant in your garden even if the soil in the yard is particularly acidic. Trillium flowers emerge quite early in the spring and have a distinctive appearance with three petals. Choose between multiple varieties of trillium to decorate your woodland garden with vibrant colors. Depending on species, trillium plants can have white, pink, red, purple, or yellow blooms. Pair them with hostas, ferns, and crested irises for a brilliant garden show.

15. Willow Oak

Not to be confused with willows, these shade trees are usually found in floodplains and close to marshy regions. They seem to prefer moist environments despite showing off solid drought tolerance. Willow oaks are related to red oaks but their leaves have a more distinctive appearance. These trees are recommended for urban settings due to their overall hardiness. You can also plant willow oaks in your yard if you have enough space. They grow quite fast to 70 feet but have the potential to reach around 120 feet in height. Willow oaks make excelled shade trees thanks to their delicate foliage.

16. Begonia

Easy to care for and providing a nice selection of charming colors, begonias are able to thrive in acidic soil. They’re usually grown as annuals both indoors and outdoors. Although begonias are most appreciated for their vibrant flowers, some gardeners value rarer varieties that show off more impressive foliage. There are many types of begonias but they all generally share the same growing and care requirements. The flowers prefer full sun exposure and consistent moisture. The main weakness of a begonia plant is frost which can be very damaging.

17. Fern

Graceful ferns can be seen adorning various woodland and forest landscapes. These plants can also thrive in your shade garden without too much effort. Although there are multiple types of fern out there, it’s safe to say that all of them can be grown successfully in soils with lower pH. Most ferns can tolerate extreme temperatures as they’re quite hardy. It’s important to focus on the particular requirements of the type of fern you prefer. Southern maidenhair ferns, for example, tolerate more difficult soil conditions while showing off delicate gray-green foliage.

18. Azalea

Highly popular for their stunning spring blooms, azalea shrubs aren’t very fussy about soil requirements. They love extra acidity and are usually simple to grow. One of the most important aspects when adding azaleas to your garden is to choose an adequate location. Selecting a site that offers acidic soil is good but make sure it also provides proper water drainage. Cool, lightly shaded areas appear to work ideally for this shrub. You need to avoid full sun exposure for this plant, especially in hot climate regions.

19. Gardenia

Gardenias are often grown for their fragrant blooms. They can reward any gardeners with attractive foliage as well. Compared to other acid-loving plants, gardenia is a bit more difficult to care for. It depends on the growing location, but gardenia flowers are quite high-maintenance. The plants are very sensitive to cold and it’s also important to select the correct planting location. Gardenia performs best in part shade conditions so you need to keep a good balance in terms of sunlight exposure. Regular watering and frequent fertilizer are also part of maintaining gardenias healthy.

20. Beech

Beech trees grow well in acidic soils and can make a great impression on open sites. While this stately tree isn’t recommended for urban settings, the extended branching can come in handy for gardeners looking to increase the amount of shade in their yard. Recognizing a beech tree can be done by checking for the color and texture of the bark. It stays gray and smooth for the entire life of the tree. As long as it’s grown in rich and moist soils, a beech tree can reach heights of up to 80 feet with a spread of around 50 feet.

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