Florida’s year-round growing season is a great reason to love gardening. While we have different seasons, the one constant for our plants is the soil that they’re grown in. While we can control our plant’s water and fertilizer needs, we can’t always control the soil that they’re grown in.
One easy metric to determine soil chemistry is to test its pH. Knowing the pH of the soil can help determine the type of amendments, or additives, that are necessary for your plants to thrive. In simple terms, the pH lets you know how acidic or alkaline your soil is. Florida’s soil pH usually runs between 6.0 – 7.5, meaning that it’s in the neutral range. This is good for many of the plants typically grown in Florida, such as turfgrass, flowers and vegetables. However, if you are interested in growing azaleas, camellias, or blueberries, your soil will need to trend towards the acidic range of 4.5 – 5.5.
Getting Your Soil Tested for pH at our office
The good news is that you can have the pH of your soil tested at UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County! To get a soil sample follow the instructions here: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/SS667. To make it easy for Hillsborough County residents, all you’ll need to do is bring a cup of your soil sample in a ziplock bag to the extension office at 5339 C.R. 579, Seffner, FL 33584, Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm. Samples are run each Friday (when there are at least 5 samples) and you’ll be notified by phone or email of the results. There is a fee of $3.00 per sample payable in cash or check for pH soil analysis at the front desk. About 1 cup of soil is needed for a sample to do a soil test.
For nutrient analyses submit your sample to the University of Florida Soils Lab
There are some instances when you need a more in-depth soil analysis. The soil is made up of nutrients and micronutrients that can’t be determined by our county extension office’s pH testing abilities. When you bring a sample from a plant that is not doing well and the Hillsborough County Master Gardener Volunteers can’t make a diagnosis, they may recommend that you send a soil sample to the University of Florida soil testing laboratory in Gainesville. You’ll follow the same sample collection guideline from above. Box your sample up and submit to the lab along with the soil testing form. We suggest that you submit your sample for test B costing $10. This will give you a much more detailed listing of the nutrients in your soil including the pH and the results will specify what you’ll need to apply to create healthier soil for your plants.
Once the soil test has been run in Gainesville you will receive an email with the written report. If you have questions, please call the Hillsborough County Extension office at 813-744-5519.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Knowing the chemistry and health of your soil may be just the information you need to keep your turf grass green and your plants thriving.
More on soil testing:
UF Soil Testing Form https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/SS/SS18700.pdf
The University of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Institution.