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Lowering pH with vinegar, again

Posted by monet_g 6a (My Page) on
Wed, May 12, 10 at 19:03

I've been notified that my initial message was "mis- directed" due to a server change. I will re-post.

The majority of my plants prefer a pH of 5.5., so I included ~1-2 t. of vinegar per gallon when giving them water and fertilizer. I'd prefer to water/fert all of my plants out of the same mix. My question is whether the vinegar will have an adverse effect on my other plants. I've read that, in general, plants prefer a reduction in pH and alkalinity from city water. I have done a general test (from a similar test kit that JAG recommended) and found that my water is high in pH and fairly high in alkalinity. Do you think the vinegar will be a problem for my other plants that do not have specific pH needs?
Thank you,

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Lowering pH with vinegar, again

Don't know if this is a suitable follow-on question - if you want to fertilize with lime, without increasing pH, how much vinegar would it take to do it?

Other question would be whether that is appropriate for a quick Blossom End Rot fix.

I asked a friend with a Ph.D in Chemistry about that last year. Her response was that getting test strips would be the easiest.

RE: Lowering pH with vinegar, again

Hi Alice,
I did use test strips and the pH was high, as well as the alkalinity. My main goal is to lower both for the majority of my plants. My concern is for the other plants that will get the same mix. I guess, in other words, do any plants require a high pH?

RE: Lowering pH with vinegar, again

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, May 12, 10 at 22:29

Plants in containers do best at about a full pH point lower than plants grown out, but container media has low bulk-density and low buffering capacity in relation to mineral soils, which makes the pH of the soil solution the more important consideration.

Yes, some plants that have difficulty limiting uptake of Fe, Mn and a couple of other minor elements might prefer a media pH or soil solution pH that is higher than 6.0, but if you make the nutrients available in the soil solution, you needn't be so worried about media pH. It's been years since I've given any consideration to trying to maintain any particular media pH ..... just don't worry about it - and I have posted a ton of pictures of perfectly healthy happy plants .... and my irrigation water has a pH that hovers around 8.5. After you determine what your media pH is, how do you intend to manage it? It changes by the hour. ;o)

I know the pH of the 5:1:1 mix with lime will come in around 6.0, and the gritty mix with gypsum about the same. Beyond that, it is what it is because I'm not going to hover over every container & micromanage. I wouldn't have any time to spend here!

If you're worried, figure out how much vinegar it takes to bring a gallon of your irrigation water down to around 6.0. Add that amount to your water every time you water and forget about it. I sometimes do that in the winter when plants show some chlorosis (a pH induced FE deficiency), but the vinegar clears it up in short order.

Alice - if you want to fertilize with lime without increasing pH, fertilize with gypsum. That supplies the Ca that lime supplies w/o a pH increase. You'll then need to add a small amount of Epsom salts to your fertilizer solution each time you fertilize to keep the Ca:Mg ratio favorable. THAT is an effective safeguard against BER caused by an ACTUAL nutritional deficiency, but adding nutrients to the soil can't correct BER caused by deficiencies due to cultural issues (high humidity and cloudy cool days, excess water/lack or aeration in the soil, excess P or Mg are some of the other potential causes of BER).


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