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How To Make Soil Acidic Naturally: Making Soil Acidic For Blueberries

The blueberries, azaleas and rhododendrons need acidic soil with a pH of 4.6 to 5.5 to grow them happily. If your soil is alkaline with a pH 6.0 or higher, you need to amend and enrich it. Many people fail to grow blueberries because of improper soil. So it is very important to acidify your soil before planting blueberries of you can amend the soil even after planting them.

Acidify Soil To Grow Blueberries
Blueberries Growing in a Container in Correct Acidic Soil

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How To Test the pH of Soil

You can perform a simple tests as given below which will tell you whether your soil is acidic or alkaline.
  1. You can use a soil pH test meter to know soil acidity.
  2. pH Test With Litmus Paper: Mix a small amount of soil with water and dip a litmus paper for one to two seconds. The litmus paper turning red means that soil is acidic or blue indicates alkaline soil. 
Test With Vinegar and Baking Soda
  1. Mix some soil in water and add vinegar. If the soil is alkaline with a pH level of 7 or more, then the mixture will show bubbling or fizzing action.
  2. Take some soil in a cup, moisten it with distilled water and add some baking soda. If the mixture bubbles or fizzes, the soil is acidic.

I will give you the methods to make soil acidic for your plants for filling in containers with acidic soil mixtures before planting blueberry bush and also how to acidify the soil of already planted blueberries.

How To Make Soil Acidic for Blueberries Before Planting

You should make soil acidic well in advance of planting blueberries in it. Test the soil pH before planting in spring. Following are the ways to make your soil acidic in a natural way. 

Many people think that adding pine needles and oak leaves will lower the pH of soil, and make it acidic. But that is not true, they do not lower the soil pH.

Coffee Grounds For Acidifying Soil

  1. Ground coffee beans are acidic and they have the ability to decrease the pH of your soil and make it acidic. Note that only the fresh unwashed and unused coffee grounds can lower the pH, because the washed coffee grounds have a pH of around 6.2 and do not acidity the soil.
  2. Mix some unwashed grounds in the soil to decrease the pH of the soil.

Elemental Sulphur To Acidify Soil

  1. The best method for quickly making soil more acidic for lowering the pH of soil for blueberries is to use elemental sulphur . The elemental sulphur in the soil is oxidised by a naturally occurring bacteria, thiobacillus, producing sulfuric acid, which lowers the pH of the soil.
  2. Mix sulphur in Autumn/Fall with soil for at least three months before planting blueberries in it.

How Much Sulphur To Add

  1. The question is how much sulphur to add to soil for blueberries to lower soil's pH. It is pointed out that too much sulphur will burn or kill the blueberry plants. It is better to plant about one month after application to sulphur to avoid root burn.
  2. Mix about 0.75 to 1 kg (1.75 to 2 lb) elemental sulphur or about 3.5 to 5.5 kg (8 to 12 lb) aluminium sulphate  per plant. 

Peat Moss

Some types of peat moss has a pH between 3.0 and 4.5, so you can add it in the soil and rack it to lower its pH within days.

Soil Acidifiers

You can buy natural soil acidifier from a garden shop to acidify soil for blueberries before planting.

How To Make Soil Acidic for Blueberries After Planting

Using acidic fertilizers or diluted vinegar or peat moss or sulphur will help lower the pH levels of the soil, making the soil acidic after the blueberries have already been planted.

Peat Moss

Every year put a thick layer of peat moss on the soil and mix it to decrease the soil pH significantly. Make a habit of incorporating peat moss into the soil around the base of your plant at least once every year.

Vinegar

  1. Vinegar is quite effective method to decrease the soil pH of blueberry plants temporarily. It is an easy fix for blueberries.
  2. Mix about 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of vinegar in 2 litre (half gallon) of water. Water berry plant with this vinegar solution once a week, water on soil, not on the  plant.

Elemental sulphur

Dig four 10 inch deep holes around the blueberry plant along the drip line or near the perimeter of the container and fill them with some elemental sulphur, and water well. This will acidify the soil in root zone

Coffee Grounds

Regular mixing of unwashed coffee grounds in soil of blueberry plants will help in keeping the soil acidic. 

Acidic Fertilizers

  1. Apply fertilizers for acid loving plants regularly that contain ammonium nitrate or ammonium phosphate and urea to lower the pH of the soil.
  2. The bacteria in the soil  converts the ammonium in the fertilizer into nitrate, creating hydrogen ion in the process. The hydrogen ion increases the acidity of the soil.

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