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PH Soil Meters

pH Soil Meter FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Have a question about our soil meter? Check out these soil meter FAQs to find the answers to all the most popular questions.

Is the soil meter suitable for both indoors and outdoors?

Yes. Indoors may have much lower light levels, but the soil meter is suitable for indoors and outdoors.

Is it complicated to use?

No. Set the 3-position switch to select the meter function and insert it in the soil to get the reading. After use, just clean and dry the two probes.

Where does it get power from?

Although it uses electrical measuring methods, it does not need any power or batteries! It gets its power from the sun or soil as it does its job.

Is the product safe?

Yes. It uses tiny electrical currents (about 1 volt).

How long will it last?

How well you look after the monitor determines its lifespan, with nothing limiting it. If you leave the monitor in moist soil (which it should not be!), it may cause corrosion of the probes. We recommend cleaning and drying the probes after each use.

What sun/water/pH do my plants require?

Sorry, we can’t answer that one because every plant variety and species differ. Plenty of such information is available for plants, but you will need to know the name of each plant. In general, any extremes of pH or moisture may be unsuitable for most plants. It is always helpful to measure these factors and check that the measurements are ‘normal’, i.e., pH=7, moisture=5.

Can I use my soil pH meter to test the pH of my water?

No, soil pH meters do not monitor and test water's acidity (pH). They work by testing the moisture (through electrical currents in the soil) and pH of the soil. Testing the water pH using a soil meter will produce inaccurate results, even for small amounts of water.

How accurate is the moisture reading on soil meters?

Soil pH meters provide an accurate method of testing soil moisture. A quality meter can work with all soil types, including clay and sandy soils. Meters produce a reading with accurate measurements of up to 0.1% using soil moisture sensors.

How do I measure soil pH?

Using a soil meter to measure soil pH is a simple and accurate method for different types of soil. To measure soil pH using the meter, all you need to do is:
   1. Choose the meter function (pH for measuring soil acidity).
   2. Insert the probes into the soil.
   3. Wait for the results to display on the meter.
   4. Remove the probes and clean them after each use.

If you are using the meter to measure moisture, check the level and water.

How do you raise or lower the pH level in soil?

The ideal pH for soil in a garden should be around 6.5 for general gardening. This pH is perfect for a wide range of plants to grow. After testing, you may find your soil pH too high or low. In this case, there are suitable methods you can use to raise or lower the pH level in the soil.

Raising pH level

Acidic soils (with a reading of 3-6) can benefit from adding lime. Lime-hating plants like rhododendrons benefit from adding lime to very acidic soil (3-5). Very acidic soil means nutrients are more absorbent and washed away.

Lowering pH level

Alkaline soils (7.1-8) can benefit from adding acidifying agents to help lower the soil's pH level. Agents, such as sulphur and iron sulphate, are the most effective. Your soil type will affect how much agent is necessary. Clay soils require much more, while chalky soils will be unaffected.

Alkaline soils make it difficult for plants to obtain sufficient phosphorous, iron, and manganese. A lack of such minerals can result in lime-induced chlorosis.

How does an electronic soil pH meter work?

Electronic soil pH meters test the acidity or alkalinity of soil. Some soil meters, such as the EL-SM-METER3IN1, can also measure light and moisture levels. This device requires no batteries and sources its power from the sun.

What units does the device use to measure moisture?

The device provides three accurate soil pH, moisture, and light readings. The device displays the results using the following units:
   • The pH scale shows pH readings ranging from 3.5 for acidic to 8 for alkaline.
   • The meter displays moisture on a scale of 0 for dry and 10 for wet for water content.
   • The meter displays light in a range of 0 to 2000 lumens.

How do soil meters work without batteries?

Using the EL-SM-METER3IN1 does not require any batteries or power. Instead, the device sources its power from the sun while calculating readings.

What is the unit of measure for pH?

The unit of measurement for pH is the pH scale. This displays a number on a logarithmic scale of 1 to 14. Low numbers, 1-6, are acidic. The lower the number, the higher the acidity. Higher numbers, 8-14, are alkaline. The higher the number, the higher the alkalinity. 7 is neutral. pH stands for the potential of hydrogen ions.

What are the advantages of a pH meter?

There are several advantages to using a pH soil meter:
   • You can use it without set-up.
   • The device sources its power and does not require batteries or power.
   • The device provides 3-in-1 readings for acidity, moisture, and light.
   • The pH meter provides accurate readings for testing soil pH, moisture, and light levels.
   • Allows you to make necessary soil adjustments for acidic or alkaline-loving plants.

How do you know when a plant needs more water?

Watering plants too much or too little is one of the most common problems in the garden. Using a moisture monitor can help take the guesswork out of whether a plant needs watering or not.

However, this is dependent on a plant's specific needs. Drought-resistant plants, for example, can survive in dry soil for long periods, unlike other plants.

Why should I use a soil meter to test moisture?

Using a soil moisture meter to test for moisture helps take the guesswork out of when plants require watering. A low moisture reading for most plants means it is time for watering. A reading of electrical currents present in the soil determines moisture levels. Moist soil will have a higher current.

How do you calibrate and use a pH meter?

The device does not require calibration before or during use. It can provide accurate readings compared to other soil sampling methods and test kits.

What causes a low pH in soil?

Several reasons can result in a low soil pH, including:
   • The use of fertilisers (including nitrogen fertilisers).
   • Growing certain crops, such as vegetables, that require lime.
   • Decaying organic matter.
   • Soil composition (granite-based soils will become more acidic over time than other soil types).
   • Acid rain

What is the ideal soil pH for plant growth?

The ideal soil pH for plant growth will depend on the soil, nutrients, and plants. Different plants, soils, and nutrients require different soil acidities for optimal growth. This is why pH testing is important for gardeners.

The table below provides a guide for the optimal pH for plants. You can also determine nutrients availability in the soil using the graphic below.

A chart showing nutrient absorbance dependent on the soil acidity

Vegetables             Ideal pH Reading                                     Ideal pH Reading
Bean                        6.0 - 7.5                         Lettuce                   6.0 - 7.0
Broccoli                     6.0 - 7.5                        Onion                     6.0 - 7.0
Brussels                    6.0 - 7.5                        Pea                        6.0 - 7.5
Cabbage                   6.0 - 7.5                         Pepper                    5.5 - 7.0
Carrot                       5.5 - 7.0                         Potato                     4.5 - 6.0
Cauliflower                 5.5 - 7.5                        Radish                     6.0 - 7.0
Cress                        6.0 - 7.0                        Spinach                    6.0 - 7.5
Cucumber                  5.5 - 7.5                        Swede                      5.5 - 7.0
Leek                         6.0 - 8.0                         Tomato                    5.5 - 7.5
Fruit                        Ideal pH Reading                                       Ideal pH Reading
Blackberry                 5.0 - 6.0                           Melon                      5.5 - 6.5
Cherry                      6.0 - 7.5                           Peach                      6.0 - 7.5
Currant Black             6.0 - 8.0                           Raspberry                5.0 - 6.5
Currant Red               5.5 - 7.0                           Rhubarb                  5.5 - 7.0
Gooseberry                5.0 - 6.5                           Strawberry               5.0 - 7.5
Grapevine                  6.0 - 7.0                           Lawns                     6.0 - 7.5
Flowers/Shrubs          Ideal pH Reading                                     Ideal pH Reading
Alyssum                    6.0 - 7.5                          Gladiolus                  6.0 - 7.0
Azalea                      4.5 - 6.0                          Hydrangea Blue         4.0 - 5.0
Carnation                  6.0 - 7.5                          Hydrangea Pink         6.0 - 7.0
Chrysanthemum        6.0 - 7.0                           Hydrangea White       6.5 - 8.0
Clematis                   5.5 - 7.0                           Marigold                   5.5 - 7.0
Daffodil                     6.0 - 6.5                           Rhododendron          4.5 - 6.0
Dahlia                       6.0 - 7.5                           Rose                        6.0 - 7.0
Fuchsia                      5.5 - 6.5   

Red Zone
             Green Zone         Green Zone          Green Zone           Green Zone
Plants 1-3            Plants 4 - 5         Plants 5 - 6          Plants 6-7             Plants 6-7
Aloe                       Parachute Plant     Action Plant           Amazon Lily            Moon Flower
Anchor Plant           Pen Wiper             African Violet         Angel Wings            Mosaic Plant
Asparagus Fern       Pink Buttons          Angle Tears           Apostle Plant     Mother-In-Law Plant
Baby Jane              Pocket Book          Plant Aralia            False Azalea           Mouse Plant
Baby pine of China  Poinsettia               Bachelor Button     Brazilian Firecracker  Nut Orchid
Baby’s Breath         Queens Tears         Boxwood               Bridal Wreath          Oleander
Beaver Tail             Roman Candle       Burn Plant              Burro's Tail               Peacock Plant
Bishops Cap            Sand Dollar           Cape/Crape Myrtle Butterfly Gardenia   Peperomia
Bloodleaf                Sedum                  Chile Bells             Caladium               Periwinkle
Cactus                    Shrimp Plant         Cloth of God          Calla Lily                Petticoat Palm
Chicken Gizzard      Tiger Jaws             Corn Plant             Camellia                  Pitcher Plant
Christ Plant             Umbrella Tree       Crimson Flag          Chenille Plant      Polynesian Ti Plant
Crassula                 Wall Fern               Devils Ivy             Cobra Plant           Pothos
Crown of Thorns     White Jewel            Dieffenbachia         Coleus                   Prayer Plant
Dumb Cane              Green Zone          Euonymus             Columnea             Quaker Ladies
Easter Orchid          Plants 4-5            Finger of God         Copper Leaf          Sansevieria
Euphorbia               Airplane Plant         Firethorn                Croton                  Saxifraga
Fig, Fiddle Leaf        Begonia                 Flamingo plant        Darlingtonia         Scindapsus
Firecracker Plant     Bird of Paradise      Fleur D’Amour         Dawn Flower        Sea Grape
Flaming Sword        Blushing Bride         Flower of Heaven    Dracaena Palm     Spider Plant
Floral Firecracker     Bonsai Tree           Glory Lily                Easter Lily            Temple Bells
Foolproof Plant        Bromeliad              Gold Dust Plant          Echeveria             Turk’s Cap
Gas Plant                Candle Plant          Hoya                      Egyptian Star Cluster  Velvet Plant
Geranium               Century Plant         Impatiens               Explosion Plant      Verbena
Ghost Plant             Ceropegia              Kashmir Bouquet     False Holly            Violet Flame
Glory of Texas        Chain Cactus          Kiss-Me-Today        Fan Iris                 Wandering Jew
Golden Dew Drop    Daphne                  Lady of the Night     Fan Ivy                 Wax Plant
Good Luck Plant      Earth Star               Lantern Plant          Farewell to Spring   Zebra Plant
Hibiscus                  Echeveria               Medicine Plant         Ferns 
Honey-Bunny          Hairy Toad Plant      Naked Lady Lily      Fiery Love Flower   Blue Zone          
Ice Plant                 Hearts on a String   Pussy Foot              Fig, Creeping         Plants 8-10 
Ivy                         Hen and Chicken    Queens Jewels         Finger Aralia         Watering is not
Jade Plant               Inch Plant               Rouge Plant            Fingernail Plant       necessary 
Jasmine Star           Little Stars              Rubber Plant           Fire Dragon 
Jelly Beans              Mock Orange          Shooting Star          Five Fingers 
Lantana                   Norfolk Island Blue Solomon's seal         Fuchsia 
Little Candles           Patience Plant        Star of Bethlehem    Gardenia 
Little Owl Eyes         Pearl Plant              Victoria Aralia         Honey Bells 
Living Vase              Philodendron          Water Melon            Jasmine 
Lobster Plant            Ponytail                                               Jungle Flame 
Marguerite Blue        Radiator Plant                                      Kalanchoe 
Mimicry Plant           Sea Urchin                                           Ladies Tresses 
Moonstones              Stoneface                                            Leopard Plant 
Mother of Pearl         String of Pearls                                    Magic Flower 
Musk Plant                Vitamin C Plant                                   Man in a Boat 
Panda Plant               Youth and Old Age                              Match me if you Can