How to Balance pH for Chrysanthemum: A Comprehensive Guide

Chrysanthemums, or mums, are beloved for their vibrant colors and versatility in gardens and floral arrangements. To ensure your chrysanthemums thrive and produce stunning blooms, it’s essential to maintain the proper soil pH balance. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to test, adjust, and maintain the ideal pH range for your chrysanthemum plants.

What Is the Ideal pH Range for Chrysanthemum?

Chrysanthemums grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.8. This pH range allows the plants to efficiently absorb nutrients from the soil, promoting healthy growth and abundant blooms. If the soil pH is too high (alkaline) or too low (acidic), your mums may struggle to access the necessary nutrients, leading to stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and lackluster flowers.

How to Test Soil pH for Chrysanthemum


Before planting chrysanthemums or addressing pH issues, it’s crucial to test your soil’s pH. You can use the following methods:

  1. Soil Test Kits: Purchase a soil test kit from your local garden center or online retailer. These kits typically include test strips or color-coded charts that indicate the soil’s pH level.

  2. pH Testing Probe: A pH testing probe is a digital device that measures soil pH when inserted into moist soil. These probes provide quick and accurate results.

  3. Extension Service Testing: Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service for professional soil testing. They can provide a detailed analysis of your soil’s pH and nutrient levels.

How to Adjust Soil pH for Chrysanthemum

If your soil test reveals that the pH is outside the ideal range for chrysanthemums, you can amend the soil using the following materials:

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Lowering Soil pH (Making It More Acidic)

  • Sulfur: Apply elemental sulfur to the soil to lower its pH gradually. The amount needed depends on your soil type and current pH level. As a general guide, use 1.2 pounds of sulfur per 100 square feet to lower the pH by one unit in sandy soil, or 3.6 pounds per 100 square feet for clay soil.

  • Aluminum Sulfate: Aluminum sulfate works more quickly than elemental sulfur. Apply 5 pounds per 100 square feet to lower the pH by one unit in sandy soil, or 15 pounds per 100 square feet for clay soil.

Raising Soil pH (Making It More Alkaline)

  • Lime: Use ground limestone to raise the soil pH gradually. Apply 4 pounds of lime per 100 square feet to raise the pH by one unit in sandy soil, or 8 pounds per 100 square feet for clay soil.

  • Wood Ashes: Wood ashes from a fireplace or wood stove can help raise soil pH. Apply no more than 2 pounds per 100 square feet, as excessive amounts can harm plants.

When applying any soil amendments, always follow the package instructions and incorporate them evenly into the top 6 inches of soil. Water the area thoroughly after application.

Caring for Chrysanthemum to Maintain Proper pH

Chrysanthemum 2

In addition to adjusting soil pH, proper care practices can help maintain the ideal pH range for your chrysanthemums:

  1. Planting Time: When planting mums, mix aged compost or composted manure into the soil to improve its structure and nutrient content. If the plants were pre-fertilized by the grower, avoid fertilizing at planting time.

  2. Fertilizing: Apply a slow-release, granular flower fertilizer in early spring when new growth appears. Feed established mums again in late summer if the foliage appears faded. Alternatively, use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer monthly from early spring through mid to late July.

  3. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Chrysanthemums are drought-tolerant once established but benefit from deep watering during extended dry periods. Aim to provide 1 inch of water per week, adjusting for rainfall.

  4. Mulching: Apply a 1-2 inch layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark or pine straw, around your mums. Mulch helps retain moisture, suppress weeds, and moderate soil temperature. As the mulch decomposes, it adds organic matter to the soil, improving its structure and nutrient content.

  5. Sunlight: Plant chrysanthemums in full sun to partial shade locations. They require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and flowering. Morning sun is particularly important to help dry dew from the foliage, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.

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Home Remedies for Adjusting Chrysanthemum Soil pH

In addition to commercial soil amendments, you can use the following home remedies to adjust soil pH for your chrysanthemums:

Lowering Soil pH

  • Coffee Grounds: Sprinkle used coffee grounds around your mums and work them into the top inch of soil. Coffee grounds are slightly acidic and can help lower soil pH over time.

  • Pine Needles: Apply a 1-2 inch layer of pine needles as mulch around your chrysanthemums. As the needles decompose, they release acids that can help lower soil pH.

Raising Soil pH

  • Eggshells: Crush dried eggshells into a fine powder and sprinkle them around your mums. Work the powder into the top inch of soil. Eggshells contain calcium carbonate, which can help raise soil pH gradually.

  • Oyster Shells: Crush oyster shells into a fine powder and apply it around your chrysanthemums, working it into the top inch of soil. Like eggshells, oyster shells contain calcium carbonate and can help raise soil pH.

When using home remedies, be patient, as they may take longer to affect soil pH compared to commercial amendments. Retest your soil pH every 3-4 months and adjust your approach as needed.

Duration of pH Adjustment for Chrysanthemum

The time required to adjust soil pH for chrysanthemums depends on the amendment used and the initial pH level. Gradual changes are better for plant health, so expect the process to take several months to a year. Retest your soil pH every 3-4 months to monitor progress and make additional adjustments as needed.

By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-equipped to test, adjust, and maintain the ideal soil pH range for your chrysanthemums. With proper care and attention to soil health, your mums will reward you with vigorous growth and stunning blooms year after year.

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