Acidic Soil for Herbs?
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Sheila Walsh
Posted on: December 01, 2008

I’m new to northern Wisconsin & want to plant herbs on my property. Most of my acre has huge pine trees - spaced enough that sunlight can penetrate, but I’m told the pine needles have made the soil too acidic over the years for planting.

Now someone else has told me herbs love acidic soil. I’m having difficulty finding good information online. Do you know which herbs might do well under these conditions? The soil is thick & rich.

Your biggest problem is going to be hardiness. Northern Wisconsin is in zone 3 and few herbs survive the winter out of doors in that zone. However that does not stop you from growing mostly annuals, where the zone does not matter. Even if your soil is acidic and the annual herb you want to grow likes neutral to alkaline soil, it is no great problem to work some lime into the soil as you spade the soil for spring planting.

Many herbs tolerate a wide range of pH, but unless they are widely grown, the literature does not mention their pH requirements. Therefore this can only be considered a partial list.

Herbs that, according to literature we have found, can tolerate acidic soil down to about pH 4.5 are:

Aconite, alfalfa, alkanet, annatto, angelica, avens, lemon balm, basils, bay laurel, sugar beet, belladonna, bilberry, bloodroot, boldo, borage, broom, burdock, butterfly bee, calendula, castor bean, celery, chicory, garlic chives, sweet cicely, citronella grass, clivers, red clover, codonopsis, black cohosh, coltsfoot, cumin, dandelion, elecampagne, purple foxglove, garlic, ginseng, guava, henbane, henna, hops, horehound, indigo, lambs quarters, lemon grass, luffa,common marjoram, apple mint, English mint, menthol mint, pineapple mint, spearmint,(most of the rest of the mints prefer it a bit less acid), white mustard, stinging nettle, Welsh onion, compact oregano, gold crisp and golden oregano, showy oregano, papaya, paprika, passion fruit, patchouli, Chili peppers(of the genus Capsicum annuum), pokeroot, Queen Annes lace, rauwolfia, rosemary, Chinese senna, sesame, shallots, stevia, strawberries, sunflower, tamarind, tea, all varieties of English and French thyme(Thymus vulgaris),wild thyme, toothache plant, tormentil, Bearberry(Uva ursi), vetiver, wintergreen, sweet woodruff.

And the following Gourmet vegetables:

Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, balam pear, asparagus bean, Chinese cabbage, oriental cucumber, daikon, Batavia, Japanese eggplant, endive, gai lohn, gobo, vegetable gourd, leek, lettuce, pak-choi, sugar pea, radicchio, roquette, wild rice, water spinach, spaghetti squash.

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