The Best PH Soil Tester for better soil in 2018
The Best PH Soil Tester for better soil in 2018

Learn Step-by-step Which is The Best Soil PH Kit and How to Use it Now!

There are thousands of plants, shrubs, flowers, vegetables and it’s common sense that for all of them you would need different soil. Vegetables need soil which is richer in compost, but some shrubs need just water. Also, all of them require different soil pH level. Maybe it sounds unusual, but before planting anything, you should check your soil. I know many people who are getting angry when their vegetables are not growing or potatoes dying out. They are adding fertilizers, nutrients, overwatering but you could avoid all of this mess with a simple tool – pH soil tester. It will show your soils pH level, and you will know what you need to add to your soil.

Composting Worms in the Garden Fresh and good soil
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The best pH soil tester reviews for better plant soil

Sprise Soil Tester, 3-in-1 Soil Test

Atree Soil Tester, 3-in-1 Soil Test kits
Atree Soil Tester, 3-in-1 Soil Test kits

Super easy to use soil tester which does not need any maintenance or batteries. It tests light intensity, moisture, and PH of your soil. The best thing about it that you can use it unlimited times. To use it you have to simply insert it into the ground. But don’t push it really hard, if the soil is too hard, try in another place or try to loosen soil because this soil tester is not that durable. Its accuracy is average, my lab soil tester was showing PH 6,2 while this one was telling PH  6. For basic PH testing, this ph soil tester is great.


Jellas Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Moisture Sensor Meter

Jellas Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Moisture Sensor MeterThis soil tester has 2×1 inch display which has all the information you need to know. The tester is rugged and feels like high-quality. When you insert this soil tester in the ground it immediately shows temperature, sun intensity and how wet is the soil. you don’t need any batteries to use this soil tester. pH level it shows very correctly. To make sure you don’t break it – don’t push it too hard into the soil, because it’s not that durable.


Best Rapitest ph soil tester – Luster Leaf 1612 Rapitest pH Soil Tester

Luster Leaf 1612 Rapitest pH Soil Tester
Luster Leaf 1612 Rapitest pH Soil Tester

Soil ph testing strips are easy and fast way to test soil. I bought this soil tester because the previous landowner was using a lot of fertilizers and chemicals and I wanted to test how bad is the soil. I do not trust electrical soil testers because chemical reaction can’t be false. This tester comes with 10 capsules, so it means you will be able to make 10 tests, but you can order more. I prefer to buy a couple of these testers that one electrical.The measurement was quite precise and fast.


Professional soil ph tester – Kelway Soil pH and Moisture Meter

Kelway Soil pH and Moisture Meter
Kelway Soil pH and Moisture Meter

I had an older version of this tester, and it lasted ten years. 10 years and hundreds of testings. Incredible. So, without any second thoughts, I bought this one. It’s as perfect as the older one and works like a charm. It measures pH values from 3.5 to 8 and soil moisture from 0% to 100%, Remember – clean the receptor before using it, every time! I would buy this tester if you want to have a lifetime tester and who is always ready to test and is durable. It is better to have one of this, thank buying a new cheap tester each year. And this one does not need anything except pushing in the ground.


Soil Savvy – Soil Test Kit

Soil Savvy - Soil Test Kit
Soil Savvy – Soil Test Kit

This kit is awesome! It’s professional-grade soil kit. It provides not only PH but also other 14 nutrients, including N,P,K! There is even instruction inside what kind of fertilizers you need. The idea of this kit is that you collect few samples, from places where you need to test soil. Then put the soil in containers, which comes with this kit. Then put them in an envelope which also is included and send it to the laboratory. They will analyze your soil and will send you the report via email or website within 10 days. In the report, you will be able to see laboratory reports of your soil. Don’t worry, you won’t need to pay for shipping either. In the report, you will be able to see recommendations of soil corrections, what you need to do and what fertilizers to apply. Awesome product.


The PH Soil Tester types

Before testing your soil, you need to choose the right tester. In the market, there are three types of soil ph testers.

  • Electronic soil tester
  • Testers with probes
  • Soil Test strips with indicators

Many plants can adapt to almost any soil pH but if the soil pH goes outside of 6.0 or 7.5, then even dandelions will not grow.

For example – Wild strawberries and dandelions will grow in acidic soil. Queen Anne’s Lace and Chickweed loves more alkaline soil. So you can even tell the pH of your soil by just looking at your weeds.


What is pH soil level?

pH is the level which decides if the plant will grow or not. pH means “potential hydrogen” so it measures how many hydrogen ions are in substance. In much simpler words, it measures how alkaline (sweet) or acidic (sour) your soil is.

pH tester is showing acidity level from 0 to 14. If your soil acidity level is below 7 then it’s acidic but if it’s above 7 then it’s alkaline. pH level 7 means the soil is neutral.

But there is a problem in which case you will need to remember school time – the logarithmic scale is used to measure pH. It means that a pH of 5 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 6. It means – if your pH jumps from 6 to 7, then it means your soil acidity level changes 10 times. And if it jumps to eight, it means it changed by 100. Huge, right?

Here are some pH samples – pure water should have pH of 7. Cow’s milk should have pH 6.5 Tomatoes and beer – pH 4.5. Lemons, on the other hand, are very acidic – 2.5 but our stomach acid is 2.0.


Does soil ph tester accuracy matter?

If you are a casual gardener – then you are good with information if it is very acidic, slightly alkaline, very alkaline or slightly acidic. You don’t need to know more precisely because most of the plants are growing perfectly in a wide pH range. The best range of pH is 6 to 7.5

When I tested my soil, I had pH of 7.2. It means that some acid loving plants will grow quite well but the plants who don’t like acidic soil, they will need to adapt, and they will adapt, but it will take more time.

Remember, that pH change of 1, is acidity change of 10!

Here are pH levels for most common plants

Soil pH for Flowers

Flower Preferred pH Range
Ageratum 6.0 – 7.5
Alyssum 6.0 – 7.5
Aster 5.5 – 7.5
Carnation 6.0 – 7.5
Chrysanthemum 6.0 – 7.0
Columbine 6.0 – 7.0
Coreopsis 5.0 – 6.0
Cosmos 5.0 – 8.0
Crocus 6.0 – 8.0
Daffodil 6.0 – 6.5
Dahlia 6.0 – 7.5
Daylily 6.0 – 8.0
Delphinium 6.0 – 7.5
Dianthus 6.0 – 7.5
Forget-Me-Not 6.0 – 7.0
Gladiola 6.0 – 7.0
Hyacinth 6.5 – 7.5
Iris 5.0 – 6.5
Marigold 5.5 – 7.0
Nasturtium 5.5 – 7.5
Petunia 6.0 – 7.5
Roses 6.0 – 7.0
Tulip 6.0 – 7.0
Zinnia 5.5 – 7.5

Soil pH for Herbs

Herbs Preferred pH Range
Basil 5.5 – 6.5
Chives 6.0 – 7.0
Fennel 5.0 – 6.0
Garlic 5.5 – 7.5
Ginger 6.0 – 8.0
Marjomar 6.0 – 8.0
Mint 7.0 – 8.0
Parsley 5.0 – 7.0
Peppermint 6.0 – 7.5
Rosemary 5.0 – 6.0
Sage 5.5 – 6.5
Spearmint 5.5 – 7.5
Thyme 5.5 – 7.0

Soil pH for Vegetables

Vegetable Preferred pH Range
Beans 6.0 – 7.5
Broccoli 6.0 – 7.0
Brussels Sprouts 6.0 – 7.5
Cabbage 6.0 – 7.5
Carrot 5.5 – 7.0
Corn 5.5 – 7.0
Cucumber 5.5 – 7.5
Lettuce 6.0 – 7.0
Mushroom 6.5 – 7.5
Onion 6.0 – 7.0
Peas 6.0 – 7.5
Potato 4.5 – 6.0
Pumpkin 5.5 – 7.5
Radish 6.0 – 7.0
Rhubarb 5.5 – 7.0
Spinach 6.0 – 7.5
Tomato 5.5 – 7.5
Turnip 5.5 – 7.0
Watermelon 5.5 – 6.5

Best way to test soil ph without any testers?

Testing soil for alkaline

1. Take a sample from 5-6 inches below ground in the place where you want to plant something. If your garden is small you can test your soil in all garden by mixing soil from 4 different spots.
2. Remove from soil anything but the soil. Break up all large clumps.
3. Put 1 cup of soil in a glass container.
4. Add water as much as you need to turn the soil to mud
5. Add half of the cup of vinegar and stir.
6. If the soil foams or bubbles then your soil is alkaline. If the soil does nothing, then test it for acidity.


Testing soil for Acidity

! Take a new sample and clean the glass container before beginning this test.

1. Take a sample from 5-6 inches below ground in the place where you want to plant something. If your garden is small you can test your soil in all garden by mixing soil from 4 different spots.
2. Remove from soil anything but the soil. Break up all large clumps.
3. Put 1 cup of soil in a glass container.
4. Add water as much as you need to turn the soil to mud
5. Add half of the cup of baking soda and stir.
6. If the soil foams or bubbles then your soil is acidic.
7. If the soil again did nothing, then the soil is in the neutral range of approximately pH 7.

This test works if the soil is really acidic or alkaline, but for more specific tests you need to buy one of the soil testers listed below. That’s necessary if you want to plant susceptible plant and you need to know precise pH level.

Mostly, the acidic soil you can make neutral by adding lime and alkaline soil by adding sulfur. But how much you need to add depends correction needed.


How to take samples for soil pH test

Plant Seedlings with great soil
Plant Seedlings with great soil

Much as we may talk about the soil pH, it’s also important to keep in mind the water you use for irrigating your plants. If you are using the recirculation system to irrigate your plants, simply draw water samples from the re-circulated feeding solution.

If your irrigation system doesn’t feature re-circulation system, then you can look for the average pH level s by drawing water near the roots of multiple plants. To get an even clearer picture of your soil pH, always collect samples at the same time and during the day when the ecosystem around the plants is active.

When it comes to the soil, collect multiple soil samples from several locations to make your results more accurate. There are various extraction methods but to avoid complication, you can use one of the generally accepted methods the ‘1:1.5 volume extract’ method. This involves wetting your garden, kneading the soil and consequently squeezing it hard to see whether it’s properly soaked.

After that, you can place your kneaded soil in a measuring beaker and add de-mineralized water. Lastly, shake well and let your “concoction” settle and measure the Ph.

Nutrients absorption and Ph levels

Extreme PH levels have got negative impacts to plants in that high acidic concentrations result in high concentrations of minerals which may be harmful to plants, high alkalinity results in unavailability of some micronutrients such as zinc and copper.

Vital nutrients are absorbed by plants in regard to the levels of alkalinity or acidity of the soil. For instance, Nitrogen, potassium, and magnesium are prevalent in a wide range of acidity while manganese, copper, and boron remain low as the alkalinity heightens.

High acidity inhibits the absorption of macronutrients such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorous which are the primary nutrients for plants growth.

Decomposition and Ph levels

The Best PH Soil Tester for better soil in 2018
The Best PH Soil Tester for better soil in 2018

Micro-organic activities which necessitate the decomposition of organic materials are also influenced by the pH levels. High acidity or alkalinity of the soil, hinders microbial action while neutral PH is ideal for the process to take place because Nitrogen, phosphorus is available.

Soil pH may render pesticides dysfunctional hence unable to eliminate unwanted pests on the farm because they change their basic composition thus weakening them. Optimum pH has a positive influence on the absorbability and solubility of various food elements. Acidity influences the breakdown of organic substances, soil structure as well as soil living organisms. High acidity in the soil thus inhibits the life of living organisms in the same.

High acidity translates to poor growth of plants since the soil is of generally poor quality. High alkalinity, on the other hand, causes calcium, iron and phosphate compounds which are important minerals for plants growth to precipitate.

Nutrients are prone to leach on PH below 5.0 quickly than from soils with values between 5.0-7.5 thus an optimum PH range of 5.5 to 6.5 indicates a sufficient nutrient supply to crops thus better growth. Optimum PH level, therefore, enhances proper nutrient supplication and healthy development of plants which results in sufficient fruiting, the vice-versa is also correct.

Symptoms of a low pH (Acidic):

Soil pH imbalance can be stressing to your plants which is why it’s important to keep an eye on your soil. You may not know but your lawn or backyard garden could be screaming on top of their voices for rescue.

Below are important hints to look out for in determining whether your soil is acidic.

One way of your garden communication to you that  it needs a Ph boost is weeds and moss. This is so because research shows that most of these plants thrive under acidic soils. An excess of these culprits may be an indicator that your plants are chocking in acidity and needs the Ph raised.

Still yet another sign that your soil needs a pH boost is when fertilizer doesn’t just seem to make any progress. You may spend a fortune adding fertilizer but all your efforts will be disintegrated to zero is the pH is not raised. Proper soil pH doesn’t fly in the face of your progress but helps the fertilizer accomplish its job. It goes without mentioning that a neutral pH, helps in unlocking soil nutrients making them readily available for your plant’s use. Hence, fertilizer application without correct pH prevents the fertilizer from executing its mandate to the fullest extent.

Symptoms of high pH in your soil (Alkaline):

High pH levels in your soil results in pale, yellowing, and worst case scenario dying plants. When soil pH clocks 8 and above, it makes it almost impossible for the plants to absorb micro and macronutrients. As a result, your plants are invaded by purple leaves, rust color spots, and brown dead spots.

How to correct the pH value of your soil

Plants like their privacy, peace, and quiet. They love their humble abode and disturbing them may do more harm than good. For this reason, if your tests indicate that the soil pH is between 5 and 6.4 there’s no need of correcting your ph levels- unless it’s absolutely necessary to do so. Instead, you should always try to monitor the pH erosion over an extended period of time and when the red line is crossed you can take the adjustments gradually.

With that said, the acidity of your soil can be corrected by feeding your soil with nitric acid during planting and switching to phosphoric acid when the plants start flowering. Alternatively, you can use caustic potash or bicarbonate.

Limestone is another great remedy soil additive that you can use to raise the pH of your soil. Its commonly found in two types: dolomitic limestone and calcitic limestone. The two are famed for working in their respective capacities to raise soil pH and thanks to their faster-acting attributes the results become apparent soon.

Much as modifying the soil’s pH may sound cheap and easy, the process may be taxing in terms of time and finances. For this reason, you may use a cheaply available remedy which is wood ash. It may be slow but if you are a true follower of organic farming, this may be a perfect match for you. Simply by sprinkling about ½ inch of wood ash over your garden and mixing it with the soil works magic. It may not be economically viable for commercial farms since it takes small applications, as a small farmer you may take the advantage.  And if you are looking to make the world a better place, what a better way to recycle the fireplace ashes!

Improving the drainage of your soil is another great remedy for controlling and improving the pH levels in your garden. This is because poor soil drainage helps the buildup of bicarbonate.

Conclusion

Failure to determine the soil PH especially on a new piece of land may be reflected in poor yields. Know the soil PH of your land to determine the types of crops that are likely to thrive well to boost performance.

It is also worth noting that soil may contain sufficient nutrients yet the plants may fail to thrive well due to unfavorable soil PH levels. The soil fertility and PH are paramount for the growth of crops.

I hope that you will be able to choose the right soil tester and are more informed about pH level. If you will test many times and want a device which is always working and is always ready to test, then choose Kelway Soil pH and Moisture Meter but if you want to test one time or you are on a budget, then choose Luster Leaf 1612 Rapitest pH Soil Tester.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great share!Informative post! Thank you for sharing this kind of helpful Information for instruction. Keep it up!!

  2. OK job on the page and reviews, Elvis, but if you are going to call yourself a writer or blogger, you should at least go learn how to properly spell in English, properly structure a sentence and work on your poor grammar!

  3. Thanks for your opinion 🙂 As I’m not from English speaking country and English is my 4th language I think it’s ok to have some mistakes. Of course, I have a long road to perfect grammar and spelling, but everybody starts somewhere!. Plus I think there is no rule that you need to have a perfect language to be a blogger! So unless you speak more than 4 languages, I think you can excuse me.

  4. I just started container gardening and I have a little square foot garden in my new apartment and this was EXACTLY the article I needed to help me start off. Thank you so much! Even WITH mistakes this article- Explains what ph is, how ph levels affect plants, how to determine ph levels, reviews tools to use to check ph levels, home experiments to check ph levels in soil!, several suggestions on how to fix ph levels in our soil. The information was neatly organized and thorough. I appreciate this post very much and you can dust the haters of your shoulder you did something good.

  5. Hi there,

    Thanks for this excellent post. I’m on the hunt for a reliable soil pH tester. I was asked to manage a nursery but the plants have been deteriorating. I did a simple vinegar/baking soda test which indicates that it may be too alkaline.

    What’s the safest and most effective way to reduce the soil’s pH level? I have been spreading organic compost on the surface in the hopes that it’s pH can be corrected, but it’s been about a week and they are still getting worse.

    Is there anything else I can do? It’s quite distressing!

    I would appreciate any help at all.

    Regards,

    Joanne

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