What is the PH of 5-1-1

spaceman13(6b)July 4, 2013

What is the PH of 5-1-1, as made strictly by the book?

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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but with the lime I believe it's around 5.5.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 11:15AM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

It could be depend on the ingredients we used. Probably after one year or about 6 months the pH level could be changed.


Here is a link that might be useful: Chemical Characteristics of Pine Bark

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 12:59PM
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Very good question. It will definitely be acidic. The bark and moss will see to that. According to the above link its 3.4 -4.5 and that is pretty low. The moss is also low. I plan to plant Azaleas that likes a ph.5.0-6.0. My problem is I need to add lime to adjust but don't know where I am with the ph. Its all very confusing....!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 1:46AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, the pH of the 5-1-1 is dependent upon the acidity of the particular bark used - pine, fir, hemlock - as well as the age of the bark. A fresh bark will be more acid than a well-composted bark, for example. The peat is such a small fraction of the mix that it won't drive the bark down too much further, but it will contribute a little.

I would guess that the pH could potentially range from 3.5 to 6.5, but the average would fall in the 4.5 to 5.5 range. The addition of the Lime raises the pH by about 1 point, when 1 tablespoon is added per true gallon of mix made.

Most water will also raise the pH over time (termed "alkaline creep").


    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 11:58AM
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Thanks Josh. I'll leave the lime when I plant the Azaleas and see how they go. A ph meter don't really indicate a true ph reading. To many variables I once read on a Tapla comment. Does the plant give any specific indication when the ph is way to low for it?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 1:55AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, if the pH is off, the plant will have trouble taking up nutrients, which will typically show in a paling or chlorotic plant.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 11:36AM
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thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))

I bought the PH soil rapitest kit a couple of months ago, not sure if this will help and how accurate it is, but I will test it from some of my 5-1-1 mixes. I just made a fresh batch this week and have some in containers for the past 2 months. I will probably do 3 tests.

- the 5-1-1 mix I just made
- 2 month old mix that my maters are growing in
- 1 with organic choice potting mix as a control

I will do this in a day or two if anyone is interested.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 2:45PM
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I'm certainly interested!

I tested a batch I made a week ago by adding a hand full of soil to distilled water and reading with those little test strips.
I got a reading of about 4.5 to 4.8, and that's WITH added lime!

The plants I put in my previous looked OK, no yellowing or anything, but they didn't grow well at first. My tap water is around 8, so I guess it took a while to stabilize.

I guess it takes some time for the Ph to stabilize after you mix and lime a new batch?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 3:43PM
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thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))

I couldn't wait lol But here is the 2 month old Mix. I snaped the photos in different lighting angles/conditions on the same window letting the lght in. I made the mix around May 15th. My Guess is 6 to 6.5? I put about a cup of lime in.

To note Distilled water was used.

The next test I will do a little later on the brand new batch of 5-1-1 for my peppers that I made a few days ago (pretty much the same) I hope this helps. Also I had to show my first mater in there "4th of July Hybrid in that same mix".

The rest are also doing great with many maters. I picked that green one because it came off the same plant, probably not smart, I thought it was blushing but at the same time it will be interesting to see how long it ripens.

Edit for container: The mix was in a 20 Gallon Hydrofarm fabric bag and about 3/4's full.

This post was edited by thebutcher on Thu, Jul 11, 13 at 16:56

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 4:40PM
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thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))

Organic Choice Potting mix (This was from a bag by MG that I started my seedlings with)

PH with same testing. I was trying to get the same light settings so things could be off but tried my best.

This test is just to show Ph with distilled water in my purchase of rapitest in my own enviornment and by the way that red tomatoe was tasty :)

I will do the new PH test of 5-1-1 probably within a probably tomorrow or after the weekend.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 8:25PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, the Lime reaction takes anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks to finish, depending upon moisture and temperature. In general, plants will be fine during this transition, but it is very important to resume fertilization as soon as the roots have extended and bitten into the new mix.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 11:52AM
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thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))

Here is the test I just did with the new mix I made about a week ago and I also did a test of straight Apple cidar vinegar with no distilled water. I also made sure the ph tester was clean and dry.

I hope this helps and thanks you all for helping me out again.

PS I just got some Agway Pine Bark Mulch but unfortunatley they did not have Perlite in stock. So I need to buy more Perlite so I will do another batch on Sunday :)

- Mr Beno

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 5:26PM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)

There is no one pH for a 5-1-1 mix, it's always changing. Even if you had the exact same medium from city to city, county to county the water chemistry will definitely change everyoneâÂÂs pH.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 12:19AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

My wife is getting me a Kelway pH meter for my birthday. Not sure how accurate they are, but definitely will have fun with another tool. (BTW, thebutcher, very nice photos.) I done the pH test kits that thebutcher is showing, 2 different types of litmus paper, a pool water kit and an aquarium kit. Fun stuff!!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 11:00AM
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Hey All. I just discovered this thread. Most interesting. I will have to get one of those test kits and give my 5-1-1 mix a try. I wasn't sure you could even test something like 5-1-1 mix since it's not really "soil". But since others on here have done it I guess those kits will work with 5-1-1.

Please correct me if I'm wrong on any of this, but based on what I've read here on GW and on other sites, uncomposted pine bark is very acidic with a pH somewhere between 3.5 - 5.0. I believe that as pine bark composts and breaks down with age, the pH level rises. How much it rises I do not know. If I'm not mistaken, peat is also quite acidic, therefore a typical 5-1-1 mix would be very acidic since perlite is probably pH neutral. I'm guessing without adding lime the 5-1-1 mix would be around 5.0, and adding the lime would bring the 5-1-1 pH up to about 5.5 or 6.0.

Does all of that seem correct?



    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 7:13PM
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