Azaleas, Hydrangeas and Rhododendrons

4 Popular Plants to Grow in Your Acidic Gardening Soil

Are you gardening in an area with acidic soil? While most plants thrive at a pH between 6 and 7.5, some actually grow well in areas with a lower pH level. Which ones will you add to your garden? Here are four of our favorites to consider.

Gardening with Acidic Soil: 4 Popular Types of Plants



These popular plants with beautiful blooms grow well for those gardening in Northern California, preferring moist, well-drained soil. Hydrangeas prefer morning sun and afternoon shade, and come in a wide variety of types:

  • Blue Enchantress® Hydrangea
  • Seaside Serenade® Cape Cod Hydrangea
  • Seaside Serenade® Hamptons Hydrangea
  • White Bigleaf Hydrangea
  • Double Delights™ Wedding Gown Hydrangea
  • Pink 'N Pretty® Hydrangea
  • Seaside Serenade® Outer Banks Hydrangea
  • Let's Dance® Big Easy® Reblooming Hydrangea
  • Endless Summer® Hydrangea
  • Snow Queen Oakleaf Hydrangea
  • Seaside Serenade® Cape May Hydrangea
  • Strawberry Shake™ Hydrangea
  • Nikko Blue Hydrangea
  • Tiny Tuff Stuff

One of the most distinctive traits of these popular plants is that their color can actually change based on the gardening soil’s acidity. Better Homes & Gardens explains:

For true blue flowers, the hydrangeas need to be grown in acidic soil (pH 5.5 and lower). For pink flowers, the plants need neutral to alkaline soils (pH 6.5 and higher). For purple blooms (or a mix of blue and pink flowers on the same plant), the pH of the soil must be 5.5 and pH 6.5.

The bluer you want your blooms, the more acidic your soil needs to be; adding a fertilizer like Azalea, Camellia & Gardenia Planting Mix (by E.B. Stone Organics) or E.B. Stone Naturals Soil Sulfur will help.



Azaleas are absolutely stunning in the spring. In fact, it’s one of the best times to plant them (the other being early fall). Plant them in a spot that’s mostly sunny, with a couple of hours of shade.

Although there are more than 800 species of azalea, the various types fall into two categories: deciduous and evergreen.

Here are some popular varieties when gardening in the Bay Area:

  • Alaska Azalea
  • Bloom-A-Thon® Lavender
  • Bloom-A-Thon® Pink Double Reblooming Azalea
  • Bloom-A-Thon® Red Reblooming Azalea
  • Coral Bells Azalea
  • Dawn's Chorus Azalea
  • Duc De Rohan Azalea
  • Autumn Lilac™ Encore Azalea
  • Fragrant Star Azalea
  • Golden Flare Azalea
  • Happy Days Azalea
  • Hino-Crimson Azalea
  • Little John Azalea
  • Azalea ‘Orange Delight’
  • Phoenicia Azalea
  • Red Ruffles Azalea
  • Red Sunset Azalea
  • Azalea k. ‘Sherwood Violet’
  • Southern Charm Azalea
  • Sunset Pink Azalea
  • Azalea k. 'Wards Ruby'
  • Azalea ‘White Lace’

These beautiful blooms thrive in well-drained, moist, acidic gardening soil. You can tell if it’s not acidic enough by keeping an eye on the plant’s leaves: if they are yellowish or smaller than normal, you may need to add more acidity. SummerWinds’ E.B. Stone Azalea and Camellia Planting Mix is perfect to use either as a potting soil or soil amendment for your azaleas.



Part of the same family as azaleas, rhododendrons also prefer moist, well-drained acidic soil. When they’re in full bloom, their flowers come in stunning shades of white, yellow, pink, red blue and purple.

According to, rhododendron varieties that thrive when gardening in Northern California include:

  • Christmas Cheer
  • Else Frye
  • Fragrantissimum
  • Gibraltar
  • Ginny Gee
  • Hino Crimson
  • Homebush
  • Klondyke
  • Mary Fleming
  • Mount Saint Helens
  • Percy-Wiseman
  • Rosebud
  • Saffron Queen



Related to rhododendrons and azaleas, blueberries also prefer moist, well-drained, acidic soil. As UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County explain, blueberries do best in gardening soil with a pH between 4.5 and 6.5. Adding sulfur (such as our E.B. Stone Naturals Soil Sulfur) to your soil when it’s wet helps maintain the acidity, and mulch during the warm summer months helps keep the roots cool and moist.

Did you know not all blueberries look like the fruit you see at the store? In fact some are even pink when they’re ripe! Here are some popular varieties to consider planting this year:

  • Bountiful Blue® Blueberry
  • Blueberry Glaze® Blueberry
  • Pink Icing™ Blueberry
  • Sunshine Blue Blueberry
  • Jubilee Blueberries
  • Jelly Bean® Blueberry
  • Southmoon Blueberry
  • Pink Popcorn Blueberry
  • Pink Lemonade Blueberry
  • Blueberry Bluecrop
  • O'Neal Early Season Blueberry
  • Spartan Blueberry
  • Sharpblue

If you want to reap a bigger harvest for a longer period of time, remember these four Ps to gardening blueberries:

  1. Plant two or more varieties as they are partially self-fertile.
  2. Place them in a warm, sunny spot.
  3. Prune them annually at the end of the growing season.
  4. pH check – make sure the soil is acidic enough.

Begin Gardening in Your Acidic Soil Today!

Are you ready to begin use your acidic soil as an advantage when gardening? Come visit your local SummerWinds Nursery to pick out one of the four species above, or for more ideas from our gardening experts! They’re happy to help you find the perfect plants, soil, fertilizer or accessories for your yard. Selection may vary by location and by time of year.