Some plants require a lower level of pH than others. Fortunately, adding a little bit of vinegar to your soil can increase the acidity and correct the pH levels to suit your plants.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into all the details of using vinegar to acidify soil.
A Look At pH And Acid In Soil
The pH of a substance directly correlates with how many free hydrogen ions are present, as these ions are what create the distinct sour flavor of acidic foods.
You can test the pH and strength of vinegar using inexpensive testing kits. The pH and strength of different types of vinegar affect how you should use them.
Before we test the pH value for our vinegar, we’ll make sure our pH paper is accurate by testing it with Hydrochloric acid and an alkaline solution of Sodium hydroxide.
Through a two-part fermentation process, yeast and bacteria are used to turn the sugar into ethanol (ethyl alcohol), which is then processed into acetic acid.
If you’ve spent any time studying gardening, you’re sure to have seen the words “pH levels.” When you test soil, it’s often for four things: nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, and pH. It measures the acidity level in the dirt.
Understanding pH levels is essential in gardening. When the soil has high pH levels, it’s called alkaline and isn’t a hospitable environment for many plants. To balance this, you need to increase your soil’s acidity.
Using Vinegar To Increase Soil Acidity
So, how to acidify soil with vinegar?
Vinegar is truly a wonderful product. It provides health benefits for blood sugar control and has been a standard cleaning agent for centuries. Vinegar is also useful in the garden to increase the acidity in your soil.
Most ph of vinegar is 2 to 3 and a strength of 4 to 8 percent. On a technical level, vinegar is a solution of acetic acid and water.
The main reason is most natural vinegar has many other compounds in the vinegar, including organic acids and other exotic compounds.
Vinegar’s pH can change if additional ingredients are added to it. For example, if you dilute distilled white vinegar with water, its acidity lessens, making its level rise.
The resulting colorless liquid is then diluted to a standard strength and filtered out of all impurities.
Its acidity concentration (sometimes referred to as grain strength), is the amount of acidity in a given volume of liquid and which is measured in percent.
Vinegar is inexpensive, and you can buy it at almost any grocery store. It’s also a safe and non-toxic treatment when diluted for soil.
How much vinegar to lower pH of water?
Generally, a small amount of vinegar is sufficient to lower the pH of water due to its acidic nature. However, the exact quantity of vinegar required may vary.
It is recommended to conduct a pH test after adding a small amount of vinegar and gradually adjust the dosage until it reaches the desired pH.
The simplest method to create a vinegar solution for your garden is to mix vinegar and water. Use one cup of vinegar for every gallon of water.
The ratio of vinegar to water may vary depending on how alkaline your soil is. But one cup of vinegar to one gallon of water is a reliable place to start.
Most pickling recipes call for distilled white vinegar, which has a pH of 2.5 and a strength of 5 percent. It’s cheap, easy to find at any grocery store, and slightly more acidic than other kinds of vinegar.
This extra acidity makes it a pickler’s best friend because it helps curb the growth of bacteria.
Once mixed, you can water your soil, distributing the mixture with a watering can as evenly as possible throughout the designated plot.
This simple approach will do for an average backyard garden.
How often to add vinegar to soil?
The frequency of adding vinegar to soil depends on the specific needs of the plants and the soil conditions. Vinegar can lower the pH of alkaline soils and make them more acidic.
However, using vinegar in moderation and caution is important, as its acidic nature can harm plants if used excessively.
Conducting a soil test to determine the pH levels and consult with a gardening expert or extension service to get specific recommendations on how often and how much vinegar to add to the soil.
Related: Use Vinegar To Get Rid Of Wasps
As you continue to water your soil regularly with the mixture, you should take soil samples to check the soil pH levels with a test kit so you don’t overdo the acidity level.
When changing the chemistry of soil, it’s advisable to do so in raised beds. There, you can contain the soil and have more control of the materials involved.
As with many things in the garden, pH adjustment takes time. With continuous attention, it may take up to several months for the pH levels to lower to a satisfactory level.
Some kinds of vinegar have an alkalizing effect on the body, like apple cider vinegar, and have taken hold as an alternative health craze. This acidic quality is what makes vinegar such a powerful cleaner.
Unlike other household cleaners that can be harsh, distilled white vinegar is safe to use on your skin and around your children and pets.
The results are a wide variety of flowers enjoying their environment and blooming to full capacity.
Can Vinegar Harm Plants?
Despite its usefulness and edibility for humans, vinegar is still acid. Acid can be harmful if not handled carefully.
Regular household vinegar is already a diluted acid, with more than 90% percent of it being water. When you mix vinegar with even more water to use in your soil, the mixture is relatively mild.
When it goes through a two-part fermentation process, the sugar turns into ethanol and is then processed into acetic acid. With a typical pH of 2 to 3, vinegar is acidic and can be used as a preservative or mixed in a drink to boost immunity.
Even so, do not use straight vinegar on plants or the soil to try and hurry the soil-acidifying process. Vinegar may not permanently kill, but it can kill off blooms or produce soil with more acidity than you want.
There are many types of vinegar. The main difference between types is the sugar source — like alcohol, grapes, apples, or rice — that’s fermented to create each one.
During fermentation, the sugar turns into acetic acid, which is the common denominator among all types of vinegar.
When attempting to change your soil’s chemical makeup, it’s best to go slow and test often.
What Plants Like Acidic Soil?
A wide range of beautiful plants enjoys acidic soil. Here are a few popular plants you may want to add to your garden.
Vinegar crystals are centrifugationally separated from frozen vinegar to reduce their acidity.
It is strongly recommended that you use hand and eye protection (chemistry goggles rather than loose plastic safety glasses) to combat weed.
Azaleas are flowering shrub plants that are generally pink or red but can also be white or purple. Azaleas can be large, statement bushes that can be up to six feet tall.
Whatever their size, azaleas provide a beautiful burst of color.
Change the soil pH to turn the flowers blue.
Read the details on Making Hydrangeas turn Blue.
Some call Gardenia plants “perfection in nature.” The beautiful fragrant, waxy white flowers fill gardens with an intoxicating, unmistakable fragrance.
Some consider caring for Gardenias difficult. We help demystify the gardenia myths about growing these acid-loving plants.
The magnolia is a well-loved flowering tree that grows white or pink flowers. These sweet-smelling trees can grow 8′ feet tall, with their branches stretching as far as 50′ feet outwards.
Even when they aren’t in bloom, magnolias provide height and structure to a garden or yard.
Japanese Anemones are glorious, delicate blooms with versatility and durability to their credit. They come in a variety of colors but favor pink and white. They add an air of quiet strength and beauty to any garden.
More on Anemone care.
Other Types of Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar lowers blood sugar levels; a 2017 review of several clinical studies found that vinegar (but not necessarily ACV) may help reduce a spike in blood sugar levels after a meal.
It may also help stabilize insulin levels after eating. These effects were seen in people with diabetes and pre-diabetes, as well as healthy people when they had 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar with a meal.
It should be noted, however, that there were only 11 studies included in this review, and each of these studies had a small number of participants.
However, our stomachs are quite acidic in order to promote the digestion of food, usually falling between 1.5 and 3.5 on the pH scale.
While the link between the acidity of food and long-term health issues is less clear, it is known that highly acidic foods can worsen acid reflux, heartburn, and stomach ulcers, especially in the short term.
Balsamic vinegar is dark brown and is made from fermented grapes, giving it a sweeter taste. You can add this type of vinegar to a delicious bowl of fruit or your favorite ice cream.
Why you should pick up vinegar on your next shopping trip Low in calories, vinegar is an ideal ingredient to flavor food for those on a restricted diet because it contains no sodium or sugar. Read the vinegar label carefully, though, and choose one with 5% acidity.
Homemade vinegar may be deceiving and dangerous when used for canning or commercial use; however, it can be used safely in vinegar jars.
Cannery that is only tested by pH may have too low an acid level and be diluted, both of which are harmful. As previously stated, pH cannot replace acidity.
Chemical concentrations are expressed in moles per liter, and their square brackets are used to determine them.
Southeast Asian countries produce rice vinegar, and beer-producing countries produce malt vinegar.
Malt vinegar is extremely strong tasting and would not commonly be used on salads. However, anyone who has had traditional British fish and chips should drown them in malt vinegar and salt to get the full experience.
Colored with caramel, brown malt vinegar is available, slightly darker and sweeter than malt.
Lowering the pH levels in your soil with vinegar takes time, but the benefits abound. Vinegar is an inexpensive and safe way to adjust your soil’s chemistry. It also provides your plants with the nourishing environment they deserve.