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Do Ferns Like Acidic Soil? (All You Need to Know)

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Ferns are members of the vascular plant’s group that reproduce via spores. Ferns neither have seeds nor flowers. But like other plants, the ferns consist of stems, leaves, and roots. But fern differs from the seed plants as the reproduction of the ferns is based-on spores.

This article will offer you deep insights into the soil requirement for ferns whether ferns like acidic soil or not.

Do ferns like acidic soil?

Most of the ferns like acidic soil. Ferns exhibit the best growth in the acidic to neutral soil. pH from 4.0 to 7.0 is suitable for the fern to grow. Though ferns like acidic soil, some ferns such as maidenhair ferns prefer alkaline soil in order to grow.

Most of the ferns like acidic soil. Soil pH ranges from 2 to 6 is termed acidic soil. Many fern species prefer acidic soil and they exhibit the best growth in such soil conditions. Ferns grow in wide environmental conditions. 

Some fern species grow in an acidic environment and others prefer neutral soil conditions.

But ferns such as maidenhair ferns like to grow in alkaline soil conditions. Also, fern plants can withstand harsh soil conditions. Here we have discussed some fern plants and their soil preferences –

Ostrich fern:

Ostrich fern prefers slightly acidic pH soil. Those fern species mostly grow in pH ranges from 5.5 to 6.5. Ostrich fern also prefers moist soil as well as dry soil. For this reason, you can grow ostrich fern in different soil conditions.

Maidenhair fern:

Maidenhair fern doesn’t like acidic soil. The plant mostly grows in alkaline soil conditions. Maidenhair fern grows in alkaline soil areas. To grow the maidenhair fern in your house, you can add some ground limestone to the potting mix. 

It will make the soil more alkaline and provide suitable environmental conditions for the fern.

Asparagus fern:

Asparagus fern prefers slightly acidic soil conditions. The fern grows in the acidic soil areas. The asparagus fern also likes well-drained soil areas. You can plant the asparagus fern in a well-drained potting soil container.

Foxtail fern:

The foxtail fern can grow in acidic, neutral, and alkaline soil conditions. But a well-drained soil is required to grow the foxtail fern. The fern can’t grow in the standing water soil. But foxtail fern is pretty much flexible in soil conditions.

Boston fern:

Boston fern prefers acidic soil. Boston fern grows best in the low pH condition ranges from 5 to 5.5. Boston fern is also named the royal fern as they grow in lower pH conditions.

Do ferns prefer acid or alkaline soil? Do ferns tolerate acidic soil?

Most of the ferns prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil. Ferns are plants that exhibit their reproduction via spores.  Slightly acidic to neutral pH soil is suitable for the ferns to grow. And most of the ferns tolerate acidic soil.

Ferns such as Ostrich fern, Asparagus fern, Boston fern-like grow in acidic soil conditions. But maidenhair fern exhibits a slight exception in the case of soil preference. The maidenhair fern prefers to grow in alkaline soil.

On the other hand, the foxtail fern can grow in all soil conditions. The foxtail fern can grow in acidic, neutral, and alkaline soil conditions. As mentioned, most of the fern species can tolerate acidic soil conditions. But some ferns grow better in the acidic soil than others.

Ferns prefer well-drained soil. Ferns can’t tolerate standing water. For this reason, it is essential to drain water from the soil. Otherwise, the ferns will perish. But if the soil is well-drained then ferns can tolerate the fluctuation of soil pH conditions. And can survive in various soil pH.

What pH level is better for ferns?

Ferns can grow in various soil conditions but pH level ranging from 4.0 to 7.0 is better for ferns. Ferns grow best in slightly acidic to neutral soil conditions. But this can vary from one fern species to another. Some fern species prefer alkaline soil conditions. 

Maidenhair fern prefers alkaline soil.

But most of the fern species grow better in slightly acidic to neutral soil conditions. But ferns also prefer moist and well-drained soil. Ferns can’t grow well in water standing soil conditions.

To gain better growth of fern, you have to maintain a good soil condition. You can modulate the pH of your soil by adding different elements into the soil. You can change soil from alkaline to acidic based on the preference of the fern plant.

As most ferns like to grow in slightly acidic soil conditions, it is better to adjust the condition of your garden soil to slightly acidic.

Why do ferns like acidic soil?

Ferns like acidic soil because lower pH condition increases the growth of the plant. Ferns are adapted into the acidic soil. Most of the ferns are evolved to withstand low pH conditions. And as an evolutionary gift, the growth of the ferns increases in the acidic soil condition.

Ferns like moist and well-drained soil. The moist condition of slightly acidic soil provides the best condition for growing ferns. Most of the ferns have been well-adapted to this condition. And for this reason, ferns like acidic soil.

Ferns require little to no maintenance. The fern reproduces by spore formation. And for this reason, they can survive in harsh conditions. Most of the ferns can grow at low pH. And ferns can also survive in drastic soil conditions. But ferns like to grow in well-drained, moist soil.

The acidic soil condition is optimal for the fern’s biological system and due to this, most of the ferns thrive in the acidic soil condition.

Do ferns like coffee grounds? Do coffee grounds make the soil acidic?

Ferns don’t like the coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are not good for the ferns. Coffee ground as fertilizer inhibits the growth of the ferns. Coffee grounds add redundant nitrogen into the soil. This causes the soil pH to drop. 

Though ferns prefer slightly acidic soil, ferns can’t grow if the soil pH drops drastically.

Coffee grounds make the soil drastically acidic. Ferns can’t tolerate such acidic soil conditions and the growth of the ferns drastically decreases. Stay away from extensively using liquid coffee or other coffee-based products in the soil as this makes the soil acidic.

Plants can’t grow in drastically acidic soil and eventually perish. But a tolerable amount of coffee grounds will be beneficial for the ferns. As fern prefers slightly acidic soil. Coffee grounds are used to reduce the pH of the soil. 

But extensive use of the coffee ground can be detrimental to the ferns. Using coffee grounds also promotes fungal growth in the soil.

How do I make my soil more acidic for ferns?

Ferns prefer slightly acidic soil. But most soils are not usually acidic. Sometimes you have to adjust the pH of your soil to get the best plant growth. In order to grow fern in your garden soil, you might need to make your soil slightly more acidic.

Here we have listed the procedures of making your soil more acidic for ferns –

Add sphagnum peat:

One simple way to make your soil more acidic is to add sphagnum peat. You can apply this method to lower the pH of your small garden soil. It works best for the small garden area.

You can add one inch or two (2.5-5 cm.) of sphagnum peat to the topsoil in and around the fern plants. This will gradually reduce the soil pH and make it more acidic.

Acidifying fertilizer:

You can use acidifying fertilizer in your soil to make the soil more acidic. Ammonium nitrate is an ideal fertilizer to raise the acidity level of your garden soil. You can also use ammonium sulfate and sulfur-coated urea in the garden soil to make the soil more acidic.

Ammonium sulfate is corrosive and can damage fern plants. For this reason, you should always read and follow the instruction manual properly.

Can I acidify the soil with vinegar?

You can acidify the soil with vinegar. Vinegar is a natural acid element and the pH of vinegar is 2.4. You can reduce the pH of the soil by adding vinegar to the soil mixture. It will naturally lower the pH level of the soil. But it will take some time to make the soil acidic with vinegar.

To do so, mix a cup of vinegar with a gallon of water. Then all you have to do is to pour the mixture of vinegar into the soil. The soil will absorb the water and the pH of the soil will gradually begin to drop. In this way, you can gradually acidify the soil with vinegar.

Final thoughts

Most of the ferns like acidic soil. Ferns prefer soil pH ranges from 4.0 to 7.0. Ferns also like to grow in moist and well-drained soil conditions. Though some ferns prefer alkaline soil conditions, most of the ferns exhibit the best growth in acidic soil. 

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