Get unlimited digital access to baltimoresun.com. $0.99 for 4 weeks.
Lifestyle Home & Garden

Soil pH is pitch-perfect for any plant

The soil test on my garden says the pH is 6.7. I need to find out what plants grow in that pH.

Congratulations. Your soil pH is in the ideal range that most plants like — slightly acid. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 as neutral. Numbers above 7 are alkaline, and numbers below 7 are acid. Each number increases exponentially to the 10th power. Thus, a 6 pH is 10 times more acidic than 7 pH; and 5 pH is 100 times more acidic than 7 pH.

Soil pH determines the availability of nutrients to plant roots. A pH too high or low means nutrients can be in the soil but plants can't use them, or the nutrients may reach toxic levels. Soil nutrients are most available to plant roots and microbial activity is greatest when soil pH is in the 5.5 to 7.0 range. Some plants need more acidic soil, such as azaleas and blueberries. Soil pH can be lowered with sulfur or raised with lime. You have the luxury of planting just about any plant you choose.

Is "Extension" a state program? My parents used to talk about the Cooperative Extension Service, but that was for farmers, wasn't it?

All land-grant universities, of which the University of Maryland is one, agreed when they were established to maintain an outreach into the community to share their knowledge.

In the early days of state universities, this Cooperative Extension Service primarily focused on helping farmers employ the latest scientific methods. Homemakers Clubs helped their wives. Open to all children, then and now, 4-H educated and encouraged leadership.

University of Maryland Extension has changed with the times, though. Although the name is shorter, the Extension has broadened its outreach. The Home and Garden Information Center, located on a research farm, specializes in giving expert help to residents with plant and pest problems in all Maryland counties and Baltimore. It supports the Master Gardeners, who are trained to further educate the public.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at hgic.umd.edu.

Plant of the weekInkberry

Ilex glabra

This holly has moved to center stage as a native alternative to Japanese holly, but its attraction does not stop there. Disease and insect problems are almost nonexistent. Consider, too, its dark evergreen foliage, glossy black berries, and the ability to grow in a reasonably moist spot, from shade to sun (though it prefers sun). Lower leaves tend to drop, creating a bare base as the shrub matures, so for low foliage, choose a variety bred to retain those leaves. Inkberry is a natural for rain gardens, as well as foundation plantings, and mass plantings. Height varies by variety and growing conditions. — Ellen Nibali

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Garden Q&A Archive
    Garden Q&A Archive

    Each week the University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Have a question about your home or garden? Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at hgic.umd.edu.

  • New plants for 2015: There's a lot for gardeners to love
    New plants for 2015: There's a lot for gardeners to love

    What's that rosy glow in the distance? It's the dawn of a new gardening year! The long trudge of winter may seem to go on forever, but the days are getting longer and it's time to start dreaming and planning.

  • Most expensive homes in the Baltimore region in 2014
    Most expensive homes in the Baltimore region in 2014

    A 10-bedroom Severna Park estate that sold for $6.75 million was the most expensive Baltimore-area home sale in 2014. Anne Arundel County dominated the market for high-end properties with 13 of the 20 most expensive homes. (Source: Data provided by MRIS)

  • Fallston man captures details of his home in model form
    Fallston man captures details of his home in model form

    Fallston resident Bill Tamburrino, 94, has spent more than 30 years building a model of his home in painstaking detail, down to replicas of kitchen cabinets and bathroom fixtures.

  • A splitting tree trunk can have many causes
    A splitting tree trunk can have many causes

    Can you tell me why the trunk of our weeping mulberry is splitting? It is 14 years old and has been moved twice. We treated it for fungus last summer. We are in zone 7a [on the U.S. Department of Agriculture map] and haven't had any big swings in temperature this season.

  • When hanging a hammock, avoid harming trees
    When hanging a hammock, avoid harming trees

    Our hammock has always been attached to an eye bolt screwed into a tree. When we took down the hammock this fall, we discovered the eye bolt has been completely engulfed by bark. Just swallowed up! We barely got the hammock off. How do we cut (drill?) out the eye bolt?

  • Agate objects are design rock stars
    Agate objects are design rock stars

    The allure of gemstones and minerals long has inspired designers captivated with their natural beauty. Slices of agate are particularly rocking home decor because of their mesmerizing crystal quality, swirling bands and range of subtle to brilliant hues. Aerin Lauder likes them; she has...

  • A house with a long history
    A house with a long history

    The Robert Long House, built by an up-and-coming merchant in 1765, is billed as the oldest known surviving urban residence in Baltimore's old city limits. This year marks its 250th birthday.

Comments
Loading