For nurturing a flourishing garden, it is very important to prepare the soil before planting.
This includes adding compost, correcting the pH and adding fertilizer. The
correct pH can make or break your perennial garden.
To correct the pH of your soil it is important to determine the current pH level. The state agricultural authorities can analyze the soil for a nominal fee. There are many easy to use kits available in the market that can be used to do the study your self. This analysis will reveal the pH level of the soil. It can be acidic, alkaline or neutral. It will also ascertain the presence of essential nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the soil.
The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. 0 indicates extreme acidic, 14 is extreme alkaline and 7 indicates a neutral soil. In the areas, having abundant rainfall the soil is apt to be acidic. Dryer areas generally have alkaline soil. However, such broad generalization should not be taken as the rule.
Most perennials flourish in a slightly acidic to neutral soil. The pH level should be between 6.5 and 7. If the pH level of the soil varies from this range, it becomes imperative to correct it.
If the soil has acidic tendencies, i.e. the pH is lower than 6.5, we need to raise the pH. The most inexpensive and efficient material for this is ground limestone. Dolomite limestone has an additional ingredient, magnesium, which many soils lack. Ordinarily you will need 5 pounds of limestone for 100 square feet area to raise the pH of a soil of medium consistency by one unit. If you intend to add organic material like peat moss, that has acidic properties, you will require 7 pounds of limestone instead.
If the pH of the soil is alkaline, i.e. more than seven, you will need additives that will lower the pH. One such material is finely ground sulphur. It is a long-term remedy but acts slowly. To lower the pH of 100 square feet of area by one unit, you would require half a pound of ground sulphur.
The other additive is iron sulphate. It is a quick acting agent but does not sustain for a long period as it is easily washed out of the soil. The iron in this additive results in lush green foliage and bright colored flowers. Three pounds of iron sulphate will lower the pH of 100 square feet of area by one unit.
So, find out the pH of your soil and take corrective action to neutralize it. You will notice a marked difference in your blooms.