How to Balance pH for Moss Phlox

Maintaining the proper pH level is crucial for the healthy growth and vibrant appearance of Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata). This low-growing, evergreen perennial thrives in moderately acidic to slightly alkaline soil, with an ideal pH range between 6.0 to 8.0. By understanding the pH requirements and adjusting the soil accordingly, you can create the optimal conditions for your Moss Phlox to flourish.

Determining the Soil pH

The first step in balancing the pH for Moss Phlox is to test the soil pH. You can use an inexpensive soil pH test kit or probe to measure the current pH level of your soil. This will help you identify whether the soil is too acidic or too alkaline, and guide you in the appropriate adjustments.

Adjusting Soil pH

moss phloxImage source: Pixabay

Raising the pH (Reducing Acidity)

If your soil pH is below 6.0, indicating it is too acidic, you can raise the pH by adding pelletized limestone to the soil. The amount of limestone required will depend on the current pH level and the desired target pH. Refer to the chart from Clemson University’s Home & Garden Information Center to determine the correct amount of limestone to apply based on your specific soil conditions.

To apply the limestone:

  1. Measure the required amount of pelletized limestone.
  2. Distribute the limestone evenly over the soil in the planting area.
  3. Use a garden fork or tiller to mix the limestone into the top 6 inches of the soil.
  4. Water the area thoroughly to help the limestone integrate into the soil.
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Lowering the pH (Increasing Acidity)

If your soil pH is above 8.0, indicating it is too alkaline, you can lower the pH by applying Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Again, refer to the Clemson University chart to determine the appropriate amount based on your current pH and target pH.

When using Aluminum Sulfate:

  1. Measure the required amount of Aluminum Sulfate.
  2. Wear gloves and distribute the Aluminum Sulfate evenly over the soil.
  3. Use a shovel to mix the Aluminum Sulfate into the top 6 inches of the soil.
  4. Water the area thoroughly to help the Aluminum Sulfate absorb into the soil.

Remember, do not apply more than 5 pounds of Aluminum Sulfate per 100 square feet at a time.

Natural pH Adjustment

As an alternative to chemical amendments, you can use Canadian sphagnum peat moss to naturally acidify the soil. This method is more suitable for container gardens or small planting areas, as it can be more costly and less environmentally sustainable for larger applications.

To use peat moss:

  1. Moisten the peat moss with water and allow it to soak in.
  2. Spread a 2-3 inch layer of the wet peat moss over the soil in the planting area.
  3. Apply the peat moss in the spring or fall for best results.

Maintaining Optimal Conditions

moss phlox 2Image source: Pixabay

Once you have adjusted the soil pH, it’s important to maintain the proper conditions for your Moss Phlox. Ensure the soil is well-draining and provide the plants with ample sunlight, typically 6-8 hours per day. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.

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By following these steps to balance the pH for Moss Phlox, you can create the ideal growing environment for your plants to thrive and display their vibrant, carpet-like blooms.

References:
Ilona’s Garden: Phlox Subulata Planting Hints
Wilson Bros Gardens: How to Plant and Care for Creeping Phlox
Lawn Love: How to Change Soil pH