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pH levels question  RSS feed

 
Aaron Peloquin
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I'm wondering if there is a plant-based solution to automatically manage your pH levels? I'm finding a lot of plants that naturally increase the pH level, but none that lower it.
 
William James
gardener
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Location: Northern Italy
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Check this out:
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/soil/msg091605457051.html

From what I have read, pH, as with water, can't be 'controlled' by plants. You can amend soil to raise or lower pH, and potash and calcium are examples of these.
Plants just prefer certain pHs and will do well or wither depending on their preference and what the soil has to offer.

It's a similar question to 'will planting certain plants dry out a wet area'. Plants just have their preferences, afaik.

sorry,
William

 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Aaron
Can you give a bit more info about your situation?

Basically repeating what William said...
I'm not familiar with any plant having the ability to actually raise or lower ph,
and I can't imagine a plant changing the effects of things like limestone bedrock or an ancient bog.
Maybe someone who knows the science will come by with better info

I understand that compost/humus help greatly to 'buffer' ph,
enabling plants to access minerals that might have been locked up by a high/low ph.
I find pants are pretty flexible with ph, especially if the soil's well cared for
and I pretty much ignore 'plant X needs ph Y' type stuff.
That said, I won't bother trying to grow blueberries, which as far as I know are genuinely a bit finicky.

If my ph was a real challenge,
I'd probably make my growing decisions based around working with my natural ph,
rather than attempting to change it to suit the plants I'd decided on.


 
William James
gardener
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Location: Northern Italy
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Ditto Leila.

That said, I'm kind of stumped by what I've heard about the acidifying effect of Pine. That's the only situation I know of where pH is directly impacted by the influence by one plant (or many of the same plant, as pine tends to dominate).

Some people say it's the enormous quantity of pine needles, but I heard Paul say it's probably the roots that are acidifying the soil. In any case, if you have a few pine trees and underneath you find acid soil, I really don't think you could add other plants and change the pH in any significant way.

It's really hard to jump just 1 pH number. You can do it in a small container pretty well, but when you're dealing with thousands of tons of soil beneath your plant, it's not happening with plants on any short-term basis. Things like pH are shaped over thousands if not millions of years. Amendments like lime work, but I imagine post amendment, like 20 years down the road - even less, everything turns back to what it was before.

William
 
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