Choosing Acid Loving Plants
Perennials and Climbers

Choosing acid loving plants is essential if you have very acidic soil and want plants that will grow well and look beautiful with minimum input from you, the gardener.

If you suspect your soil is acidic but are not certain, do take a small amount of time and trouble to carry out a simple soil pH test.

Although most ornamental plants tolerate a range of soil pH values, and many actually prefer a slightly acid soil, most of the perennials and climbers which I have listed below are true lime haters and will not thrive in any but acidic conditions.

More ideas for suitable plants can be found at acid loving trees and shrubs.

Acid Loving Perennials

Gentiana sino-ornata (Gentian)

Acid Loving Plants, Gentiana sino-ornata, Gentian
  • Form: herbaceous perennial
  • Foliage: deciduous
  • Hardiness: UK - hardy; USDA zones 5 to 7
  • Soil: moist acid soil
  • Situation: sun
  • Height: 7cm (3in)
  • Spread: 30cm (12in)
  • Awards: RHS AGM

Reasons to grow: Bright green mats of foliage smothered in intense azure blue, trumpet shaped flowers from early autumn to early winter. This little plant looks stunning at the front of borders or planted among paving stones. A real gem amongst acid loving plants!

Iris pseudacorus 'Variegata' (Flag Iris)

Acid Loving Iris pseudocorus Variegata, Flag Iris
  • Form: perennial rhizome
  • Foliage: evergreen except in the coldest winters
  • Hardiness: UK - hardy; USDA zones 5 to 8
  • Soil: deep, permanently moist, humus rich acid soil
  • Situation: full sun or partial shade
  • Height: 75-90cm (30-36in)
  • Spread: 45cm (18in)
  • Awards: RHS AGM

Reasons to grow: One of the very best acid loving plants for a waterside location as the creamy white striped sword shaped leaves provide architectural form. Each stem produces four or more bright yellow flowers from mid to late summer.

It can be invasive so if space is restricted remove the seed heads after flowering or grow in containers sunk into the ground. See important note below.

Also consider: Where space is limited try growing I. ensata; for drier conditions try I. sibirica.

Important note: Iris pseudacorus is native to Europe, the British Isles, North Africa and the Mediterranean where it grows both in the wild and as an ornamental. Outside these areas, and certainly in the US and Canada, it has escaped from cultivation and poses a threat to native eco-systems. In many of these regions it is classed as an invasive aquatic plant and should not be cultivated.

Liriope muscari (Big Blue Lily-turf)

Liriope muscari, Big Blue Lily-turf
  • Form: perennial
  • Foliage: evergreen
  • Hardiness: UK - hardy; USDA zones 6 to 10
  • Soil: well-drained, neutral to acid soil
  • Situation: partial to full shade, but will tolerate a sunnier spot if the soil is reliably moist.
  • Height: 30cm (12in)
  • Spread: 45cm (18in)
  • Awards: RHS AGM

Reasons to grow: An excellent and hard working plant. From August to November, as other flowers are beginning to fade, spikes of deep violet flowers rise above the dense strap-like foliage.

This tough little plant will cope with difficult conditions including dry shade and drought and makes excellent groundcover.

Meconopsis betonicifolia (Tibetan Blue Poppy)

Perennials For Acid Soil, Meconopsis betonicifolia, Tibetan Blue Poppy
  • Form: clump forming perennial
  • Foliage: deciduous
  • Hardiness: UK - hardy; USDA zones 7 to 8
  • Soil: reliably moist but well drained, rich acid soil
  • Situation: partial shade sheltered from wind
  • Height: 1.2m (4ft)
  • Spread: 45cm (18in)
  • Awards: RHS AGM

Reasons to grow: Large, delicate, saucer-shaped blue flowers unfurl magically from the drooping buds in early summer. Although it isn't perhaps the easiest plant to grow, this is one of those acid loving plants that stops you in your tracks when it is flowering.

Also consider: M. grandis for larger but less clustered flowers; M. x sheldonii, a hybrid of M. betonicifolia and M. grandis.

Acid Loving Climbers

Although there are not many reasonably hardy climbers that can be described as true acid loving plants, many are tolerant of a range of soil pH values.

Campsis x tagliabuana 'Madame Galen' (Trumpet Vine, Trumpet Creeper)

Climbing Plants For Acid Soil, Campsis tagliabuana Madame Galen, Trumpet Vine, Trumpet Creeper
  • Form: climber
  • Foliage: deciduous
  • Hardiness: UK - hardy; USDA zones 5 to 9
  • Soil: any moist to well drained, tolerant of acid soil
  • Situation: sunny sheltered site
  • Height: 10m (33ft)
  • Awards: RHS AGM

Reasons to grow: A bold vigorous climber bearing exotic trumpet shaped orange red flowers in profusion from late summer to autumn. Excellent for Mediterranean style gardens and wall side borders.

Although it is tougher than it looks, it may need some winter protection for the first couple of years.

Hedera colchica 'Dentata Variegata' (Persian Ivy)

Hedera colchica Dentata Variegata, Persian Ivy
  • Form: self clinging climber
  • Foliage: evergreen
  • Hardiness: UK - hardy; USDA zones 6 to 9
  • Soil: although best in fertile, humus-rich, alkaline soil it will tolerate acidic soils.
  • Situation: partial to full shade
  • Height: up to 8m (26ft)
  • Spread: up to 4m (13ft)
  • Awards: RHS AGM

Reasons to grow: A vigorous self clinging climber with large handsome heart-shaped leaves with a broad, creamy-white margin. Excellent for covering a shady unattractive wall and also effective as groundcover.

Also consider: 'Sulphur Heart' for dark green leaves suffused with yellow.

Need More Information?

More ideas for acid-loving plants can be found at Choosing Acid Loving Plants: Trees and Shrubs.

Not looking for acid loving plants? Head over to plant guides for links to all the 'plants for places' pages on this site.

You can find information and advice about garden soil, including links to other soil-related pages, at garden soil.

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