Shop all plants for alkaline soil
Alkaline or “sweet” soils are those with a pH of more than 7. Just as there are certain plants that grow best in acidic (or “sour”) soils, there are also certain types of plants that best handle alkaline ground, spanning a range of climbers, conifers, hedging plants, perennials, shrubs, trees and other types of plants. Alkaline soils tend to be high in limestone, often referred to as a chalky soil - chalk is a soft type of limestone found in some soils. Chalky soils tend to be free draining and less fertile than neutral soils. The pH of alkaline soils can be reduced, bringing it closer to neutral, by applying sulphur or ammonium. However, we generally recommend choosing types of plants that are well suited to the alkalinity of your soil, rather than trying to change it. Any artificial change to acidity will only be temporary and will need to be repeated over time – constantly trying to battle with the natural pH of your soil is never too much fun. If the depth of top soil in your garden is particularly shallow (some may have just 10cm or a few inches of soil before hitting solid chalk), additional top soil will need to be added on top of your ground to make planting viable. It’s often worth incorporating plenty of well rotted organic matter such as garden compost, leaf mould or manure to provide supplemental nutrients to your plants, particularly as they become established.
Some great climbing plants for alkaline soils include clematis, hydrangea and lonicera. Clematis are well-known for producing masses of distinctive flowers, available in a broad palette of colours. Juniper is the best conifer for alkaline ground with its small, narrow, needle-like foliage in shades of blue, green or gold, well known for their berry-like cones which are used in gin making. Hedging options include berberis for spiny, intruder proof hedging, box plants for a tightly clipped, formal appearance in either sun or shade and Cotoneaster franchetii. Geraniums are one of the best perennials for alkaline soil with their masses of beautiful, saucer-shaped flowers, often with distinctive veins and sometimes a block of contrasting colour in the centre, but you could also consider achillea, hosta, phlox and salvia plants too. In the shrubs department, ceanothus, cotinus, euonymus, fuschia, hydrangea, lavender, potentilla, spiraea, syringa, viburnum and weigela are all options. And quite a lot of our grafted trees do well on high pH soils too, including more cotoneaster varieties, Elaeagnus, Portuguese laurel and lilac. You can use the product filters on the right to further refine your search by sun/shade preference, flower colour, eventual height and spread, hardiness and more.