The purpose of plant and soil sampling is to identify what nutrients are prevalent or lacking that the plant or soil may need to thrive. Plant infection can be a result of diseases, pests, lack of nutrients from soils, and simply being planted in the wrong place.
Soil sampling indicates the following:
- Soil pH levels as to if your soil is acidic or basic. This information is essential for establishing new plants, gardens, and lawns as some plants are more favorable to certain soil types. Knowing your soil pH will also assist you in making the best decisions in selecting and using soil amendments to improve soil quality. A few plants that favor acidic soils (pH of less than 6.5) are evergreens, azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, camellias, and blueberries to name a few.
- Soil testing will indicate if you need to add lime to adjust the soil pH. Many plants prefer less acidic soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0 allowing a broader variety of plants to be grown. Testing soils also reveals the amount of macronutrients that are readily accessible to the plant. Macronutrients such as, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, manganese, and zinc are essential elements that plants need in larger quantities for growth and development.
Submitting a good soil sample is imperative in the planning stages of vegetable gardening or lawn establishment. Soil samples should be:
- Samples of soil collected from various areas in the yard for an overall improvement plan.
- Samples should dry, wet samples cannot be used.
- Soil sampling will NOT indicate if there is a fungal disease or bacterial issue with the soil. Plant samples and root tissue will signify disease information.
Here are a few links to UF/IFAS EDIS publications that will provide more details on soil sampling and its importance:
- Soil and Plant Tissue Testing
- Pre-plant Soil Assessment for New Residential Landscapes in Florida
- Soil pH and the Home Landscape or Garden
- Soil Sampling and Testing for the Home Landscape or Vegetable Garden
- UF/IFAS Soil Sampling Form