Is the recommended pH for growing hardwood seedlings wrong?

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David B. South


Two schools of thought address the optimum soil pH (measured in water) for growing hardwood seedlings in bareroot nurseries. One school uses nutrient surveys in non-fertilized forests to determine the best pH range for growing seedlings in fertilized nurseries. Some students of this school believe hardwood seedlings grow best at pH 6.0 to 7.5. In contrast, another school relies on research from pH trials to conclude that fertilized hardwoods can grow well in soils that range from pH 4.5 to 6.0. This article compiles some of the findings from seedbed and greenhouse trials and attempts to use data to dispel a few myths about the “optimum pH” for growing hardwood seedlings. Greenhouse trials suggest many fertilized hardwoods grow better in acid soils (pH 4-6) than in nearly neutral soils (pH 6.0-7.5). The optimal pH for growth differs among species and, therefore, it is a myth that all hardwood seedlings grow best at pH 6 to 7.5. Most nursery managers in the southern United States grow bareroot hardwoods between pH 4.8 and 6.0.


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How to Cite
South, David B. “Is the Recommended PH for Growing Hardwood Seedlings Wrong?”. REFORESTA0, no. 7 (June 28, 2019): 81-108. Accessed September 27, 2023.
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Author Biography

David B. South, Emeritus Professor, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, AL

Emeritus Professor