pH table
Roses grow best in pH range 6.5 to 7



Lesser know elements essential to plant vitality are calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron and boron.

Calcium (Ca) we think of as bone material found in milk and limestone. Actually, calcium is a metal and extremely important to plants for its ability to neutralize toxic acids formed in their metabolic processes. It also serves as the building block in plant proteins and cells, and assists in the balance of magnesium within the plant's growth cycle. In very low pH soils, calcium is neutralized and plants can suffer toxic shock.

Magnesium (Mg) is essential to photosynthesis in plants. It is the main molecule in chlorophyll, the green coloring in green plants! Photosynthesis is the process by which plants use the sun's energy to create carbohydrates. Without magnesium, plant leaves turn yellow (usually at the bottom of the shrub) and soon die. Magnesium usability is limited to a narrow range in soil pH. Even slightly acid soils will inhibit its usefulness.

Manganese (Mn) is a micronutrient element. That means not very much is needed for plant health. But it is needed! Without manganese, growth of the plant is stunted. That's because this element is the catalyst to make the other elements work. The problem with manganese is its lack of availability in highly alkaline soils.

Iron (Fe) gets a lot of press. Ever wonder why? Like magnesium, iron is essential to the photosynthetic and hydrocarbon production process. Without iron, the plant is said to have iron chlorosis which manifests itself as yellowish leaves and dark green veins. Most soils have plenty of iron, but it's in an insoluble form. Soils in the alkaline range can not release the iron. And that is where many of our soils tend to be... too alkaline. The unknowing gardener (unlike you) spends a great deal of money adding soluble iron to the lawn and garden; thus curing the symptom but not treating the cause... high soil pH.

Boron (B) is another one of those must have micronutrients... not much must but definitely a must have! Boron is essential to virtually every function within the plant's metabolism, its cell growth and division, and reproduction. Ever wonder why your apples have corky centers or why your celery has cracked stems? It's a lack of boron! And like iron, high pH soils trap boron.

Okay. So what is the best way to insure your plants get these elements? The answer is simple: For most of your landscape needs, a neutral to slightly acid pH will ensure these eight essential elements are available. And what is the best way to maintain this pH? With appropriate amounts of organic materials and frequent soil tests.

Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Soil Test Kit

You can perform your own soil test, of course. Kits are available wherever garden products are sold or you can find them on the web. The chart above will assist you in determining the nutrients available at a given pH. And remember: The best defense against pests and diseases is a well balanced, organically improved soil.

Note: pH is measured in gram atoms per liter. As stated by Walter Reeves, Georgia Agricultural Extension Service, the p in pH is an arithmetic operator just like + or -. p stands for the negative logarithm of the concentration of the following element i.e. hydrogen. For example, an acid condition of 5.0 indicates 0.00001 or 1 x 10-5 gram atoms of hydrogen ions in a liter of solution.
By Mark Whitelaw, Kindly Provided by Laura Whitelaw

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