Get the best from wet soil - add grit when planting

Get the best from alkaline soil

Discover how to get the best from alkaline (chalky or limestone) soil, with the help of our handy tips.

Do you have alkaline or chalky soil? A good way to tell is by looking at local gardens – if hydrangeas are pink, never blue, then you may have alkaline soil. Hart’s tongue ferns may grow in your area, too.


The best way to determine your soil type is to test your soil pH.

Lots of plants thrive on alkaline soil – see some of our ideas, below. We also reveal our growing tips for alkaline soil.

If hydrangeas are pink, never blue, then you may have alkaline soil.

Grow alkaline-loving plants

Many plants thrive on alkaline or chalky soils. They include ceanothus, clematis, hardy geraniums and lavender.


Avoid lime-hating plants

Some plants do not like alkaline conditions – instead, they prefer acidic soils. These include magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons. If you want to grow these plants, grow them in pots or in raised beds filled with ericaceous compost.


Mulch regularly

Dig over the soil deeply before planting – and add lots of organic matter. Alkaline soil dries out quickly and is often thin.


Water plants well

As alkaline/chalky soil dries out quickly, it’s important to keep plants well watered. Young plants may take longer to establish on alkaline soils than on other soil types.


Feed plants regularly

Feed plants regularly to avoid chlorosis (yellowing) of foliage.