Did you know that giving succulents water with the wrong pH can inhibit the plants' ability to take up nutrients? This leads to less vigorous growth and may cause yellowing. Urban and residential water tends to be alkaline, meaning it has a pH higher than 7, which is neutral.
Minerals optimally accessed in slightly acidic soil include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese.
Rainwater is slightly acidic, which is why a few days after a storm, your succulents (all your plants for that matter) look amazing.
Aim for 5.5 to 6.5
During a recent Cactus & Succulent Society webinar, Ernesto Sandoval advised that the proper pH for watering succulents is approximately 5.5 to 6.5 (slightly acidic). Manager of UC Davis' Botanical Conservatory, Ernesto is renowned for his knowledge about growing succulents, their root development, ideal soil mixes and more.
Acidify the water
The pH of residential water and its mineral content varies by region. If yours has a high mineral content (typical of San Diego), add 2 tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water. If your water is low in minerals (typical of Davis west of Sacramento), add one T per gallon.
Test to be sure
Check your water with a pH meter. A bargain at around $13, a pH meter provides peace of mind. Plus you can use it to test other liquids, including your drinking water, pool, aquarium and more.
Even better: Citric Acid
For a gentler alternative to vinegar, use fine grain citric acid (about $15 for a 2-pound bag). Affiliate links.
One-half teaspoon citric acid powder is equivalent to 2 tablespoons vinegar.
For a 5-to-6 percent solution, add 1 tablespoon citric acid powder per cup of purified water. Or one part citric acid to 19 parts water.
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