13 Plants That Grow Well in Acidic Soil

Best Plants to Grow with Evergreens

Rhododendrons on white fence


dndavis / Getty Images

Acid-loving and acid-tolerating plants come in a variety of sizes. Small flowering perennials, shrubs, ground covers, and even trees can thrive in acidic soil. This collection of plants can fill your garden with flowers, foliage, and autumn splendor.

Tip

Plants, generally speaking, are most likely to thrive in soils that have a neutral pH to one that's slightly below neutral. The plants on this list either tolerate a reading below this middle ground or actually thrive in a soil pH that dips below this range. For example, Dicentra spectabilis tolerates such a soil, while Ilex thoroughly prefers it.

  • 01 of 15

    Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis)

    Closeup image showing what bleeding hear's flower looks like.
    David Beaulieu

    The Bleeding heart is popular for good reason. Not only is its heart-shaped bloom fabulous, but it is also one of the best perennials for shade. An added benefit is that it grows just fine in soil on the acidic side of the pH scale.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink, white, and white, with cultivar variations
    • Sun Exposure: Full shade to part shade; tolerate some sun
    • Soil Needs: Fertile and well-drained
  • 02 of 15

    Japanese Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)

    Japanese Pachysandra

     

    ErikAgar / Getty Images 

    One of the ground covers to grow in acidic soil is Japanese pachysandra. As a deer-resistant ground cover, it is popular in the northeastern United States. Japanese pachysandra boasts wide dark green, leathery leaves and produces white flowers in spring. This plant is easy to grow, as it thrives where other plants don't and requires little care once it's established.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Soil enriched with compost
  • 03 of 15

    Blue Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum)

    Blue Ageratum

     

    wuttichok / Getty Images

    Blue ageratum, often called flossflower, is an annual flower that's related to the aster. For an inexpensive, quick injection of blue into your landscape color scheme, few plants can beat it. Despite its name, blue ageratum can actually be found in varieties featuring many different colors. While a lovely addition to gardens in warmer climates, it's unlikely to thrive in cooler areas.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 or warmer
    • Color Varieties: Pink, white, purple, lavender, blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun in the north; partial shade in the south
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained moist soil amended with compost
  • 04 of 15

    Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

    Bunchberry (a type of dogwood) with its white flower.
    David Beaulieu

    If the ground in your region is acidic and you find yourself restricted in your perennial options, expand your horizons by considering native plants. In addition to the native ground cover, bunchberry, some acid-loving native plants in the New England region of the United States include Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) and Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), which is related to bleeding heart.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 7
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Shade to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist soil
    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Azalea (Rhododendron)

    Azalea flowers


    ANCHASA MITCHELL / Getty Images

    Azaleas are flowering shrubs that grow well in shady locations and acidic soil. Rhododendron x Gable Stewartstonian is one of the best known and most beautiful of the azaleas, but there are many varieties that feature a wide range of colors. The 'Golden Oriole' is a nice choice if you're seeking flowers in the yellow-to-orange range. Its flower buds are orange, but they open up to be golden-colored blooms.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink, white, red, and yellow depending on variety
    • Sun Exposure: Shade to partial sun
    • Soil Needs:  Well-drained amended soil
  • 06 of 15

    Rhododendrons

    Rhododendrons on white fence


    dndavis / Getty Images

    The very first acid-loving plants that come to mind for most gardeners are the shrubs in the heath family. Rhododendrons are among the most widely-used of these in North American landscaping. They feature magnificent spring-blooming blossoms in a wide range of colors.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink, white, red, mauve
    • Sun Exposure: Shade to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained amended soil
  • 07 of 15

    Heath (Erica x darleyensis)

    Winter heath in flower.
    David Beaulieu

    The namesake member of the heath family is winter heath, an evergreen shrub similar in appearance to heather (Calluna spp.). Gardeners love the fact that this shrub keeps its pink blooms during the winter, even in a cold area such as New England. That is why it is a great idea for a flower bed where the goal is to have something flowering year-round.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist but well-drained ground
  • 08 of 15

    Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

    Oakleaf hydrangea displaying fall color.
    David Beaulieu

    You may know that hydrangea flowers are blue in acidic soil and pink in alkaline soil. This phenomenon, though, does not apply to all types of hydrangeas; for example, the flower color of oakleaf hydrangea does not change based on soil pH. But this white-flowering shrub, a North-American native, performs just fine in acidic soils. Oakleaf hydrangea is especially valued for its wonderful fall foliage.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White or red depending on variety
    • Sun Exposure: Shade to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil with plenty of compost.
    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Holly Plants (Ilex)

    Blue Princess holly berries growing on a branch.ale.
    David Beaulieu

    There are many kinds of holly, most of which are shrubs. While the evergreen types such as 'Blue Princess' are best known, there are also deciduous kinds, such as winterberry. In the wild, the latter grows in the same swampy areas as does bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica); both are acid-loving plants.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Shade to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil (some varieties can tolerate moist soil)
  • 10 of 15

    Bottlebrush Shrubs (Fothergilla gardenii)

    Fothergilla shrubs in bloom.

    Maria Mosolova / Getty Images

    The name of the bottlebrush shrub describes the shape of its flower clusters, but the standout feature of this one is its fall color. As with most shrubs grown for their fall foliage, the autumn leaves of your bottlebrush shrubs will be at their most colorful if you give them full sun.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Moderately moist but well-drained amended soil
  • 11 of 15

    Viburnum Bushes (Viburnum)

    Viburnum Bush

     

    seven75 / Getty Images

    Viburnum shrubs boast attractive flowers, berries, and fall foliage. Doublefile viburnum is one of the best bloomers for sunny areas, but other types include Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) and Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loam or any medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 12 of 15

    Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)

    Colorado blue spruce tree near a house.
    David Beaulieu

    Both evergreen and deciduous trees furnish examples of acid-loving plants and specimens tolerant of acid. Colorado blue spruce is most famous for its use as a Christmas tree. Other evergreen trees for acidic soil are the Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana)

    Robin eating berry from mountain ash tree.

    Don Johnston / Getty Images

    Mountain ash is most often grown for its berries, although its flowers are moderately attractive as well. Among the true ashes (Fraxinus spp.), white ash (F. americana) is one of the better choices for fall color. Oak trees (Quercus spp.) grow well in acidic soil and provide color in late fall (through November in planting zone 5).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich soil
  • 14 of 15

    Magnolia Trees (Magnolia)

    Jane magnolia flower in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    Southern magnolia, common in the eastern United States, is iconic, but there are other kinds of magnolias as well. The saucer type (Magnolia soulangiana) is very popular, as is one of the favorite heralds of spring, the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata), whose furry buds resemble pussy willowMagnolia x Jane, like star magnolia, is often grown as a shrub.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, purple, yellow depending on variety
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moderately moist sand, silt, or clay soil
  • 15 of 15

    Dogwood Plants (Cornus)

    Pink dogwood

     

    Katrin Ray Shumakov / Getty Images 

    Dogwoods are a diverse group of plants. The white sepals and variegated leaves of 'Wolf Eyes' (Cornus kousa) make it a bright plant. The pink dogwood trees (Cornus florida) might be even more popular. Then there are the shrub-form members of the Cornus genus. These are best known for the color of their bark and include the Red-twig dogwood (C. alba) and Yellow-twig dogwood (C. stolonifera 'Flaviramea').

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White or pink depending on variety
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, kept evenly moist