The soil pH meter is a necessary small tool but actually does a lot more in the small appearance. I say necessary tool because if the soil isn’t what the plant is seeking, then no matter how much care and effort you put into a plant to bloom, you will receive no outcome.
Soil pH is fundamental for the healthy growth of a plant and thankfully now we have tons of options, and when many options are available, it’s confusing to find the best one.
First of all, let’s find out what this soil pH meter actually is. A soil pH meter is a gadget that measures the hydrogen-ion activity (acidity or alkalinity of soil). Your current pH level has to match the needed soil pH level of the plant and if it contradicts, the root can hardly absorb the nutrients.
If the soil pH isn’t a match, the plant will most likely fail to blossom and will grow slowly or even won’t grow at all.
Down below, I’ve made a list of pH soil tester kits that address to budget but don’t compromise on the quality.
1. Classy Casita Soil Meter- Best Budget
Classy Casita is created by a plant lover. As the name presents, the classy design is ideal for indoor and outdoor plant care. It’s a really good parent that makes you obsessed with gardening even though you’re not a huge fan.
The 3-1 meter measures the wetness between 1-10. Level 1 means it’s quite dry and as it goes up, the wetness level increases. It’s noteworthy to mention that there’s no plant on earth that can withstand the extreme 1 or 10. So, the soil should stay moist which is between 4-7 levels.
Measure the soil dryness and keep the track of the watering. Speaking of dryness, do not use this soil tester in very dry soil, make sure it’s moistened first.
Here is a quick guide on how to use it. Put the probe down in the soil for about 2-3 inches deep or if the plant is large, measure from the root and go halfway deep. Keep in mind that you should always clean the probe and never test the water as it may break the sensors.
2. Apera Instruments AI209- Best Overall
Apera instruments this time has successfully earned its place in the list of the bests. Inside the box, there is a full kit and a guide on the usage. There are pre-mixed pH 4.0 standard solution, pre-mixed pH7 solution, AAA batteries, and a carrying case.
It’s a reliable pH tester not only for soil but also for hydroponics, horticulture, pools and spas, water treatment, beverage making, education, and environmental observing. Thanks to the IP67 waterproof feature. The measuring range is very precise (0.1 pH) and starts from 0-14.
Apera instruments measure the pH and ORP electrodes. This soil tester has 3 auto points. It automatically values and saves a lot of time and effort to finish the task, plus you don’t have to play a manual guess game.
The pH accuracy ranges from 32° to-122°F and automatically compensates temperature.
The pro side of the Apera instruments is the battery life. You will get up to 2000 hours of operation time with AAA alkaline batteries.
3. Bluelab pH Pen- Best Runner Up
Bluelab never fails to impress us with the quality as well as price range. It’s kind of expensive for the pH tester, but still, I can’t blame them because the durability and premium quality some kind of compensates the price. Anyways.
Bluelab pH Pen can generally be used in growing tents, swimming pools, drinking water, aquarium, fish tank, and brewing. This hydroponics tester has an ATC that ensures precision no matter temperature fluctuation.
If you want to monitor the water and the soil indoors, combine with a PPM meter (parts per million, or 1/1,000,000 ratio). The fully waterproof feature floats in solutions.
Bluelab pH Pen has a super easy two-point calibration. Just don’t forget to calibrate before the first use. A single pen comes with a 1-month calibration indicator that it’s easy to see from the LCD screen.
Here’s a quick tip on how to use it. Press “CAL” for longer in the 7.0 solution until that “CAL” appears in the display. Repeat the same process with the 4.0 solution. Then, the checkmark will pop up in the display to indicate achieved calibration. Clean and rinse the probe beforehand.
4. Fivota Soil pH Meter- Best 3-in-1
Fivota Soil pH meter comes in a more upgraded successful version this time with a larger screen space of 2 inches and improvement in the accuracy. It is also made out of sturdy material and way cooler appearance that stands out from others.
If you want your plant to thrive, a soil pH measure is a fundamental part of planting. For that reason, you need something that measures a lab-quality glass probe level.
The 3-in1 measures the soil moisture, pH value, and sunlight level which are the crucial factors to decide whether your lovely plant will thrive or not.
The ease of use is amazing, you just have to insert the aluminum probe and wait for 10 minutes. Just a quick reminder to not leave the meter in the soil after you’re done and don’t insert it in the dry soil as well. The moisture range is 1-10, from 1-3 is considered dry, 407 is normal or moistened and 8-10 is wet.
5. Garden Tutor Soil pH- Most Accurate Stripe Form
The Garden tutor acts as a “tutor” in successful planting. Even though it comes in a stripe form, the accuracy is what makes this product stand out from other competitors. The 2nd generation 3-pad design is placed to measure and provide optimal accuracy.
The stipes have precise calibration which is enough for 100 pH tests. Since the soil pH is different according to locations, it would be even more accurate to try multiple times. It’s ideal for lawn soil testing and adjustments. The soil pH range starts from 3.5 to 9.
Inside the box, you have all colors guidance with the lime and sulfur. As a gardener, I’m sure you already know the optimal pH is 6.5. This determines the acidity and alkalinity. You should maintain this level to get vigorous growth. So, that’s what the garden tutor is doing.
Here is how to use it. Get a soil sample you want to test and put it in a glass cup. Use 8 tablespoons and mix 4 oz. of water in the soil. Then, wait a minute, so the soil can settle. Take a strip and put it in the solution for 3 seconds. Shake the stripe to clean it from dirt and match the color on the label.
Haven’t Decided which one to get yet?
If you’re new to gardening, it may feel like you’re doing something wrong or don’t understand how the soil works.
If you’re stuck between a manual pH meter and a digital pH meter, the best pick would be digital. Besides, being a technology lover, the digital pH meter is concentrated with more precision.
When using pH meter probes, there are 2 things you should know about
- Double Junction pH Probes- makes contact with the second chamber and becomes full of the same material. Because it has two chambers, the contamination is slower.
- Single Junction pH Probe- has direct contact with the solution. Contamination happens quicker in a single junction probe.
How to Get an Accurate Soil pH Test?
Watering the Plants Beforehand
Water is an essential part of the soil pH. As your body needs hydration, the same goes with soil, and the range should be between 6.5 to 8.5.
To get the most effective measuring, water beforehand and then test it at room temperature.
Test in the Room Temperature
Yes, room temperature is ideal to test the soil pH. If the pH level is in reverse with hot and cold temperatures, you cannot get the same result. Go ahead and try it yourself.
As you know, water evaporates in hot temperatures more and less in cool temperatures. The soil’s moisture highly depends on it. So, the optimal temperature is tested in ambient temperature.
Calibrate the pH Meter
It’s normal for a pH meter to become detached and drop out if it is exposed to humidity, different temperature levels, and water (however, many products are waterproof featured). The electrical ones will weaken over time. If you use stripes, that wouldn’t be a problem.
What are Alkaline and Acidic Soil?
The soil pH above 7.0 is considered alkaline soil and usually, it’s referred to as sweet soil.
That doesn’t cause severe damage but the sure thing is it will affect the production and blooming of the plant. If you spot that the plant is suffering, try to repot the plant, but not right away, you don’t want to cause the shock effect in the root.
If repotting didn’t work and the plant still suffers from the soil, some products are called soil acidifiers.
The soil pH of less than 7.0 is considered acidic soil and usually, it’s referred to as sour soil.
Acidic soil is preferred mostly by plants, we already know that. Fertilizers and other nutrients are high in phosphorus, sulfur, and potassium. This is why the soil becomes more and more acidic over time.
You as a rescuer, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of dolomitic lime in the soil for about 6 inches deep in diameter, and then water the plant thoroughly.
How to Know the Accuracy of the pH meter?
There are waterproof and non-waterproof pH meters. For waterproof featured ones test it in distilled water with a pH level of 7 and for non-waterproof meters, you can’t know because they don’t own an automatic calibration feature.
Advanced pH meters that I have mentioned above usually come in a full kit that involves the calibration and calculates the accuracy.
Always go for a pH meter that has a wider range of temperature, this way you will get the maximum accuracy from the gadget.
A Brief Recap
The planting stuff starts with the right pH soil level, otherwise taking extra care for the plant won’t result positively. I would strongly recommend you to go for waterproof or 3-in-1 pH meters, as they seem to be more accurate.
The accuracy in digital pH meters is higher than those with stripes, that’s for sure. Besides, you have to be aware of what to do if the soil is too acidic or alkalized. Remember, most plants need acidic soil and the optimal is 6.5 pH level.
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