I am pretty new to gardening(~6 months); I have a small terrace space with lots of potted plants (lemon, hibiscus, some herbs etc.).

I get soil(along with vermicompost) from various nursery suppliers depending on the feasibility/availability.

To a few questions I had asked in this forum, I was asked about what pH level my soil has, I understand pH level defines that where the soil lies on scale of acid to a base.

How can I know pH level of my soil, since I have got it from different sources its quite possible that different pots have different pH values? How does it affect the plant growth?

Do I need to take any caution on preparing the soil before a plant anything?

Lot of questions I have put together, let me know if I need an edit.

Thanks for your help.

  • Possible duplicate of What type of tester works best for measuring soil pH?.
    – THelper
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 12:36
  • THelper - Thanks for pointing out it answers how to measure soil pH part of the question, but from the answer below it looks like for potted plants that may be not necessary, so still a valid question.
    – mbaxi
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


The ph factor of your garden soil is only relevant if you have a garden. In pots, you can choose what type of potting medium to use, so you don't need to test it at all. Which type of compost/potting medium is down to the plants you want to grow in it, so, for instance, you wouldn't put an acid loving plant like rhododendron in a limy or alkaline compost, you'd choose an ericaceous mix for those sort of plants. And that works in reverse - those that don't like acidic conditions may require a neutral or alkaline type potting medium. In general though, anything sold as 'multi purpose' or 'general use' will have a neutral ph, and will suit most plants. Even John Innes, which is loam based, is more or less neutral, but they now produce a version which has extra ingredients to make it suitable for the acid loving plants, sold as John Innes Ericaceous.

So, when you choose a plant, check out whether its fussy about soil ph (many aren't), and decide from there which is the best medium to use. Sometimes the people selling the potting medium can tell you which is best, or the bags may have that information on the outside anyway.

As for effects on plants growing in the wrong ph, they will just look sick - usually chlorotic (general yellowing or yellow patches) and won't grow very well.

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