Lawn and Garden

Printer friendly PDF Soil Texture for Acid-Loving Plants

Does soil texture matter?

Soil texture impacts the effort required to modify soil pH. Sandy soils respond more quickly to soil acidification attempts than loamy soils. In general, as the soil’s clay content increases, the amount of sulfur needed to reach a desired pH increases. To determine the amount of sulfur needed for a specific pH change in the two soil texture categories, see Table 1. Note that compared to sandy soils, loamy soils require dramatically higher sulfur rates to change the soil’s pH.


How can I determine soil texture?

To determine whether your soil is sandy or loamy, examine the soil texture by feel. Place about one tablespoon of soil in your palm, remove any plant roots, and add a few drops of water. Knead the soil until it is a uniform consistency, free from particles larger than 2mm. Squeeze the soil into a ball. If it will not form a ball, it is very sandy. If the soil forms a ball, place the ball of soil between your thumb and forefinger and gently push it with your thumb, working it outward into a ribbon. If you can make a ribbon, your soil is loamy.
soil-ball soil-ribbon

Based on this general characterization of your soil’s texture, you can determine the proper amount of sulfur or other acidifying materials to add (see Table 2). Soil-TABLE-2

Once soil texture is determined and the amount of fertilizer is determined, it’s time to modify the acidity. Is the soil being modified before planting or are plants already established?

More Resources