11 Garden Plants That Need Lime

Mike's Backyard Garden is supported by its readers. If you buy something with our links, we may earn a commission.

Many gardeners use different amendments to improve the texture of the soil. Lime is one of the most popular ones. It helps to maintain the soil pH level and increases the growth of beneficial soil bacteria. However, lime is not suitable for every plant. So, it is essential to know what garden plants need lime. This article will help you in this regard. 

Plants that grow well in alkaline soil and prefer a pH level closer to 7 need lime. Peas, spinach, onions, cabbages are some of the vegetable plants that require lime. In terms of flowers, the use of lime would benefit ornamental flowers such as butterfly bushes and delphinium.

Many other plants require lime to grow and reach their full potential. If you want them to get enough nutrients and minerals, you must use the right kind of amendments. Lime is an excellent amendment that can be beneficial for some of your plants but not all of them. So, in this article, I will list a few lime-loving plants, along with some other information about using lime in your garden.

List of Garden Plants That Need Lime

Most vegetable plants and some flower plants don’t like acidic soil. Garden lime can come in handy in this regard as it helps to increase the pH level of the soil.

However, a necessary amendment to one plant can be almost like poison to another. Lime is no exception here. So, no matter how beneficial it is, you have to use it carefully. Here’s a list of some top plants that require lime to grow:

1. Peas and Beans

Peas and beans grow well in a soil that is high in compost, drains well, and is mildly alkaline. For growing peas and beans, you would need a neutral pH level in the soil. The most appropriate pH range of soil to grow peas and beans is 6 to 7.5.

If the soil is acidic, it can be harmful to the growth of these plants. So, adding lime to the soil is a good idea if you want your plants to stay in their comfortable environment.

2. Spinach

Have you ever watched the cartoon “Popeye the sailor man”? If yes, then no doubt you are familiar with spinach. It is one of the most healthy and tasty vegetables. It is highly enriched with nutrients and vitamins.

Spinach grows best in a pH range of 6 to 7. You might have to add lime to grow spinach if the soil is too acidic in your garden. However, be sure to check the pH level of your soil before adding lime to the plant.

3. Cabbage

Cabbage is a tasty vegetable with a lot of varieties. It needs proper nutrients for its growth. So, you must try to ensure it has access to the nutrients it needs. Acidic soil inhibits the growth of cabbages and might encourage various diseases.

The ideal pH range of the soil to grow cabbages is about 6.5 to 7. So, cabbage plants can get good benefit from lime. Moreover, lime will help to reduce bacteria multiplication in the soil which is necessary for cabbage as it can get affected with bacterial infection easily. However, it would be best if you add lime to the soil at least three weeks before planting cabbage.

4. Onion

The pH level of the soil should be between 5.5 to 6.5 to grow onions. Though onions can survive in almost all types of soils, they won’t have proper growth if the pH level is too low or too high. So, maintaining the correct ph level of the soil is necessary for optimum results.

Thus, if your soil is too acidic, you must add lime to it for producing onions. But if your soil is already at the pH level of around 6, adding lime would be a bad idea.

5. Garlic

Garlic has lots of health benefits such as boosting immunity, reducing cholesterol, and high blood pressure. That’s why most people consider planting garlic in their vegetable gardens.

Well, in terms of soil requirements, garlic is almost like onions. The pH level required for garlic is around 6.5 to 7. So, use lime to maintain the pH range to ensure your garlic plant is safe and sound.

6. Squash

Though squash belongs to the fruit family, it acts more like a vegetable. Squash plants prefer a pH level between 6.5 to 7. Like pumpkins, these are extremely sensitive plants. So, you have to take care of the plants properly so that they don’t die.

Using the right amendments will help your squash plant to develop a strong root. By testing your soil’s pH, you can figure out if the pH level needs to be increased or not. If the pH level is too low, use lime and let the soil reach the pH level you need to grow your squash plant.  

7. Apple

From children to elders, everybody likes apples. They taste great and have tons of health benefits that make them one of the most desired fruits of many. Well, if you are planning to plant apple trees, you must know that apple trees also need lime.   

The soil is best for apple plants if it is close to a pH level of 6.5. If the soil you are using to plant your apple tree is lower than this, you will have to add lime to get the pH level up. Helping you to grow a healthy and fresh apple tree along the way!

8. Beetroot

Beetroots are not only delicious but also very nutritious. The preferred pH level for beets is around 6. If the soil is neutral to slightly alkaline, your beets will grow well in it.

It would be best if you add lime to your soil two or three weeks before planting beetroots. However, keep in mind that adding too much lime might cause a backlash. So, add only the required amount of lime to the soil to avoid any inconveniences.

9. Lavender

The stunning-scented lavender flower is a widely used garden plant. Lavenders thrive well in alkaline soil. Whether your lavender plant needs lime or not depends on the ph level of your garden’s soil.

Generally, lavenders can tolerate pH levels around 6.5-7.5. So, if the pH level of the soil is lower than that, you have to add lime to it.

10. Delphinium

Delphiniums, beautiful ornamental flowers, are widely used by people to expand the elegant look of their gardens. These flowering plants need fertile, porous soil and fertilizer applications regularly to thrive.

Since delphinium does not grow well in highly acidic soils, you must use lime to increase the pH of the soil.

11. Butterfly Bushes

Butterfly bushes are attractive-looking flowering plants that have a lovely fragrance. From the name you can guess that butterflies love these plants. These shrubs add beauty to your yard and garden.

However, butterfly bushes, like most other plants, need a neutral pH level of the soil to grow properly. The required pH range to grow butterfly bushes is around 6 to 7. So, these flowers will grow well if you add lime to the soil.

How Do I Know If My Garden Needs Lime?

Testing the pH level of the soil is the most accurate way to know if your garden needs lime or not. If the soil has a pH level of 6 or less, you will have to add lime to the garden. Other than that, if the plants that prefer alkaline soil start to wilt, their leaves turn yellow, or their growth is stopped, your garden might need lime.

The following are few signs that your garden needs lime-

  • Your garden grass and leaves of certain plants are starting to turn yellow.
  • The soil of your garden is becoming too sandy or too wet.
  • An increasing number of weeds in your garden.
  • Your garden is getting full of moss.
  • There is no positive impact on your garden no matter how much fertilizer you use.
  • Flowers and fruits are falling off the trees, and vegetables are not growing.
  • Lime-loving plants are having slower growth, or their growth has stopped.

However, these are only possible signs. To be sure, you have to test the pH level of the soil. You can buy soil test kits from your nearby garden centers or order online. Though the kits won’t give you the exact results, it is still the easiest way to know if you have to add lime to your garden or not.

How to Add Lime to Your Garden Soil?

To add lime to your garden, first of all, you have to test the soil and calculate how much lime you should add to the soil. Digging, spreading, and soaking are a few other steps for adding lime to your garden soil.

The following are the steps to add lime to your garden:

Step 1: Test soil pH and determine the required amount of lime

Firstly, use a soil testing kit to check the pH level of the soil. You must test the soil pH level every 3 to 4 years. After you have figured out the pH level of your garden, you have to calculate how much lime you should add to the soil.

If the pH level is less than 6, you have to add lime. If your garden has clay soil and the pH level is around 5.5-6.5, your garden would need approximately 4.5-28.5 pounds of lime. On the other hand, sandy soil with the same pH level requires lime about 1.5-10.5 pounds. However, if the soil is loamy the required amount of lime is around 4.5-21 pounds.   

Step 2: Spread lime into the soil

After identifying how much lime your garden would need, you have to spread lime in your garden. Remove any weeds or unnecessary plants from the soil before spreading lime.

You can either use a shovel or a garden spreader to spread the lime. You have to spread the lime uniformly over the surface of your soil. If you don’t spread it evenly, some soil might get too much lime while some will lack it.

Step 3: Till the soil

Now, you’ll need to till the soil to ensure that the lime is evenly distributed. When using a manual process, such as double digging, you can position the soil in the previously dug row upside down.

Make sure you till or dig deep enough for your plant root systems to expand. Normally 8 to 12 inches long digging would work fine.

Step 4: Mix it well

The next step is mixing the lime with the soil. You can mix it using a trowel or a spade. Break the clumps of the soil and remove any rock or stones while mixing up lime with the soil.

However, you must wear gloves while doing the mixing part.

Step 5: Water your garden

To activate the process of lime, you have to water your garden. Water will help lime to activate sooner and start its work in the soil.

However, you must give only the required amount of water to your garden. Too wet soil will hamper the work of lime in the soil.

The best time to add lime to your garden is the fall and spring seasons. Well, lime is a chemical amendment. So, I would highly recommend wearing gloves and safety goggles while adding lime to your garden. It will help you to do the work safely without having to face any accidents.

What Are the Benefits of Adding Lime to Your Garden?

Adding lime to your garden not only helps you to maintain the pH level of your garden’s soil it also ensures a healthier base for your garden. Furthermore, your plants are less likely to get infected with bacteria and can get necessary nutrients from the soil.

If you ever read a gardening book, you know how frequently ‘lime’ comes up. It is because lime is pretty beneficial for gardening and if you own a garden, you should definitely think about adding lime. Here are the benefits of adding lime to your garden:

Maintains pH Level

The main task of lime is to maintain your garden’s pH level. You now might be wondering why you need to maintain pH level in your garden. You need to maintain your pH level because different plants grow best in certain pH levels. For example, vegetables grow best when the soil is slightly acidic in the range of pH 6.5 to 7.

Lime maintains your garden’s pH level by raising the pH level. In most cases, your garden will become very acidic over time because of the following:

  • Rainwater leeches away ions from your soil such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, etc.
  • Decomposing organic matter releases carbon dioxide, which dissolves in soil water. This forms a weak organic acid.
  • Strong organic and inorganic acids are formed in soil

Lime increases the pH level. That way your garden soil becomes more favorable for plants. The more lime you are going to add, the more pH level is going to increase. If you plant without maintaining the pH level, your plant is going to suffer from various diseases.

Ensures Healthier Base for Your Garden

Lime ensures a healthier base for your plants to grow. It improves the structure of the soil. If your soil has lime, the plants are going to be able to access nutrients and minerals much easier. Adding lime in the soil mix is also very good for plants that like good drainage as well as plants that like moisture-retentive soil.

Provides Nutrients for Plants

Lime contains calcium and magnesium. So when you add lime to your garden your garden contains more calcium and magnesium. These two elements are an absolute must for the production of vegetables and flowers. Lack of these minerals can cause various problems, including malformed vegetables.

Adds Beneficial Bacteria

Some bacteria and microbes are beneficial to your garden. These bacteria help to improve the health of garden soil and increase yield. The nutrients phosphorus and zinc attract these bacteria. Lime provides phosphorus and zinc, which aids in the spread of these beneficial bacteria.

Increases Effectiveness of Herbicides

To have a beautiful garden, you must use different herbicides. However, herbicides can not work well in all types of soils.

Herbicides need a neutral pH level for working successfully. Since lime raises the pH level from acidic to neutral, the addition of lime increases the effectiveness of herbicides.

Effective Fertilization

If the soil is properly fertilized, gardening gets a lot easier. Your garden won’t require a lot of fertilizer if your soil has a good texture and necessary nutrients in it.

The good news is lime assists you in fertilizing your garden properly. This results in a beautiful garden and the best part is you don’t have to spend a lot of money on it.


Liming is one of the simplest and most beneficial gardening techniques. That is why, if you are a gardener, you must learn everything there is to know about lime. This article hopefully aided you in acquiring that knowledge.

I have explained why lime is beneficial, and what garden plants need lime in the article. Hopefully, you’ve found this article helpful. Best of luck and thanks for reading.