Alkaline Soil and Plants That Don't Mind Alkalinity

Perennials, Vines, Shrubs, Trees, and Annuals That Grow in "Sweet" Soil

Columbine perennial plant with purple and white flowers and buds closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

If your soil has a pH level is higher than 7, you're working with "alkaline" soil. Such soils are suitable for growing plants that thrive in a "sweet" soil, as opposed to a "sour" or acid soil. Fortunately, just as there are plants that like acidic soils, which give you planting options on sour ground (when you can't raise the soil pH or do not wish to bother doing so), so there are plants that like alkaline soil (or, at least, do not mind growing in it). Though some plants of the same genus differ on their soil preferences, generally speaking, the following types of plants are good choices to grow in alkaline soils.

Plants That Grow Well in Alkaline Soils

The list below, from the Royal Horticulture Society, the UK's leading gardening charity, is not exhaustive, but it gives you enough options to begin planning to landscape on ground that is alkaline. You will find perennials, vines, shrubs, trees, and annuals on the list. A plant's inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean that it needs or prefers to grow in an alkaline soil (although it might), only that it will, at the very least, tolerate alkalinity:

What Are Perennials?

Perennial refers to a plant that is expected to live for more than two years. While some perennials keep their foliage year-round, the top portion of other perennials dies each winter and regrows in the spring via the same root system.


We are breaking this list into sub-lists: perennials (including mentions of a bulb plant and a couple of types of ornamental grasses), vines, shrubs, trees, and annuals. We will begin with perennials, which are the first plants that people think of when the subject of flower gardens comes up. By paying careful attention to sequence of bloom in your planning, you can experience many months of magnificent floral color in your yard by growing perennial flowers:

Anchusa azurea

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Bearded iris (Iris x germanica)

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)

Catmint (Nepeta × faassenii)

Centaurea montana

Columbine (Aquilegia spp.)

Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.)


Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum, a bulb plant)

Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue' (an ornamental grass)

Foxglove (Digitalis spp.)

Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)

Hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)


Jacob's ladder (Polemonium caeruleum)

Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis)

Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis, an ornamental grass)

Maltese cross (Lychnis chalcedonica)

Meadow rue (Thalictrum aquilegifolium)

Mums (Chrysanthemum spp.)

Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)

Red hot poker (Kniphofia)

Reticulated iris (Iris reticulata)


Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky')

Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)

Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Lavender perennial with purple flowers in garden closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova


Vines, and particularly flowering vines, are remarkably useful plants in a landscape. The one drawback they have, as a class, is that many of them are aggressive. So if you are someone who, in your plant selection, strives to obtain plants that are compatible with low-maintenance landscaping, make it a point to research the qualities of a vine carefully before purchasing it:

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)


Kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta)

Vinca minor

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

Boston ivy vine with red leaves closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Shrubs (Bushes)

Shrubs have been dubbed the "backbone" of a landscape because they furnish it with valuable structure. Select a variety of flowering shrubs if you wish to optimize color in your spring and summer landscape; some are also good shrubs for fall color. But also remember that the value of evergreen shrubs soars in winter when all of your other plants have dropped their leaves. When it comes to alkaline soil vs. acidic soil, Hydrangea presents a special case. You can change a hydrangea's color by changing the soil pH.

Some types of shrubs that will grow in alkaline soils are:

Arborvitae (Thuja spp.)

Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa'

Contorted filbert (Corylus avellana)

Cotoneaster horizontalis


Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’

False cypress (Chamaecyparis)


Golden privet (L. ovalifolium 'Aureum')

Lilac bushes (Syringa spp.)

Rose of Sharon bushes (Hibiscus syriacus)

Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

Spiraea japonica

"Tree" peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa)


Weigela florida

Yew bushes (Taxus spp.)

Yucca filamentosa


Because of their size (and because of their corresponding cost and impact on your property), you have to pay special attention to the plant-selection process when choosing a tree. But if you get it right, you can end up with a plant that you will later deem indispensable to your landscape. Some are towering giants that can cast shade over a large portion of your yard, while others are much shorter and serve effectively as shade trees for patios. Still others are considered dwarf trees and function more like shrubs in your landscaping:

Common (or "European") beech (Fagus sylvatica)

European ash (Fraxinus excelsior)

Ginkgo biloba

Horse chestnut (Aesculus spp.)

Mugo pine (Pinus mugo)

Ornamental cherry (Prunus spp.)

Ginkgo biloba tree branches with yellow leaves against blue sky

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova


Some annuals can also be grown in an alkaline soil without difficulty, including Calendula, bachelor buttons (Centaurea cyanus), and sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima). Mix some annuals into your perennial flower borders to achieve the landscape color scheme that you are seeking.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 2021. Soil pH: What it Means.

  2. Chalky Soils: Plants For. The Royal Horticultural Society

  3. University of Illinois Extension. 2021. Invasive vs. Aggressive | Vines: Climbers & Twiners | U of I Extension.

  4. Old Farmer's Almanac. 2021. How to Change the Color of Hydrangeas.