Do you know what pH is and why is it important for plants?

Watering with water that is too calcareous is not good for acidic plants

The best water for all plants is rainwater, but when you can’t access it, what do you have to do? Well, the vast majority choose to take the one from the tap, but that is not always good: if it has a very high or very low pH, many plants are going to have a hard time.

But… What is pH? These two letters are the acronym for hydrogen power, it is very important to take it into account when growing plants, since it will depend on whether or not they are in good health.

What is it?

PH scale

pH scale

The pH or power of hydrogen is a unit of measurement used to measure the level of acidity or alkalinity of a substancewhich in the case of plants would be the water used to irrigate them and the substrate or soil in which they grow.

It is expressed as the negative base 10 logarithm in hydrogen ion activity, and depending on the acid level it will mean one thing or another. For instance:

  • When the acid level is high, that is, when the pH of a product, substance or element is measured and it turns out that it is acidic, it is because it has a low amount of hydrogen ions.
  • When the acid level is low, it is because what we have measured has a high amount of hydrogen ions.

As measured?

There are different methods, but the one that interests us for its ease of use are the pH strips that they sell in pharmacies. They are test strips that, when in contact with water, change color depending on their acidity. Another very interesting option is with a digital meter, which you can get in nurseries and specialized stores.

Why is it important for plants?

Iron chlorosis

iron chlorosis

Plants do not all live in the same soil conditions. And it is that, for example, those from East Asia, such as Japanese maples or azaleas, live in acid soils, while there are many others, such as those from the Mediterranean, that grow in clay soils with a pH greater than 6.

When planted in unsuitable soils, the following happens:

  • Acidophilic plants in alkaline soils:
    • Yellowish leaves, with very visible veins due to lack of iron and / or manganese
    • Growth slowdown
    • Flower drop or abortion
    • Opportunistic insect attack (mealybugs, aphids, etc.)
  • Alkaline plants in acid soils:
    • Chlorotic spots on leaves and tissues
    • Misshapen sheets
    • Delayed root growth
    • Fruit damage

So you know, if you need change the pH of a soil o of the water, feel free to click on the links .

Do you know what pH is and why is it important for plants?

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