What is water pH?

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Water pH is very important to the health of your plants. 'pH' is an acronym for 'potential from hydrogen' relating to the activity of hydrogen ions in a solution which determines how acidic or how alkaline (base) a solution is. water ph,ph solution

Phew! I'm not a chemist so the preceding sentence does not quite make a whole lot of sense to me but it does explain what 'pH' is. We are concerned with pH because nutrient water that we feed our hydroponics plants with must be within a certain pH range or the plants will not survive.

pH is based on a scale of 0 to 14 where 0 is corrosive acidic, 14 is corrosive base and 7 is neutral. Plants generally like a slightly acidic pH somewhere from 6 to 7 on the scale.

If your nutrient solution falls out of this range, your plants will begin to suffer. The 0 to 14 scale is logarithmic meaning that a pH reading of 8 is a tenfold increase in alkalinity from a reading of 7 so a slight change in pH is very important to note.

I do not really worry about pH levels because I had my water tested and it is neutral with a pH of 7 and since I replace nutrient solution every 2 weeks I have no pH related problems.

You see, the pH of your nutrient solution may start at 7 and then over time, with evaporation of the solution and constantly running it through growing medium, the pH will change and it will change drastically. So it is vital you replace nutrient solution periodically!

What are some of the other things that can change plant pH?

My hydroponics systems are outside and exposed to rain. In current times, due to pollution, rain tends to be acidic so a good drenching rain will lower my nutrient solution pH so is something to be concerned about since my pH is neutral. Of course if it was more alkaline, lowering my pH would not be of immediate concern.

My systems are located under large oak trees which tend to drop hundreds of acorns which inevitably get into open nutrient water. Since acorns are loaded with tannic acid they not only lower my pH but add undesirable tannins also.

My point is that plants live in a narrow and slightly acid pH range and there are several ways to change water pH for the worse so always check pH or at least change nutrient solution regularly.


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