Garden Myths - Learn the truth about gardening

Soil pH Testers

Soil pH testers that are sold for garden use do not have enough accuracy to be of much help.

electronic soil pH meter

Soil pH tester

Do Soil pH Testers Work?

Soil pH testers which are produced for the general public are not very useful for gardeners for several reasons:

1) they are not accurate enough

2) it is very difficult to change the pH of your soil

pH testers that have been designed for the garden are not very accurate, as has been discussed in Soil pH Testers – Are They Accurate? If you really want to know the accurate pH of your soil have it tested by a professional lab. Their meters work and are accurate.

As discussed in a previous post about soil pH, it is not important to know the accurate pH of your soil. However it is valuable to have an approximate idea of the pH so that you can select your plants correctly. The best way to get this information is to talk to your neighbors. Are they successful with acid loving plants like rhododendrons, and blueberry bushes? If they are, the local soil is acidic. If they are not, it is probably neutral or alkaline. That is close enough for you to select plants.


1) Photo Source for ‘electronic soil pH meter’: London Permaculture

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Robert Pavlis
Editor of
I live in southern Ontario, Canada, zone 5 and have been gardening a long time. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

I hope you find Garden Myths an educational site that helps you understand your garden better.

4 Responses to 'Soil pH Testers'

  1. Anders Larsen says:

    Thank you for this blog.
    What are your suggestions for indoor houseplants when it comes to pH levels?

  2. Thomas Brophy says:

    Robert, regarding soil Ph comparisons with neighbors soil and what grows well for them: not much relevance, I think, to those of us who garden in raised beds where the soil is dramatically different due to various additions (e.g., compost, leaves, straw, spent coffee grounds and tea leaves, etc.)

    • That is certainly true. Neighbors can only be a help if they garden in native soil as well, with limited additions. But most additions to soil, including compost, leaves, straw, spent coffee, and tea do not affect soil pH very much. The pH of any raised bed is based mostly on the source of the real soil that was added – if any.