pH values and deficiency symptoms in Christmas trees

Before planting Christmas trees on a new area, you should always make a soil analysis to ensure that the area is suitable for growing Christmas trees. The analysis will show any lack of nutrients so that these can be analyzed and rectified before trees are planted on the area. 

Low or high pH values in acreages with Christmas trees

Should your soil analysis show that the soil has a low pH you can rectify this by liming. 

Should the soil analysis show that the pH is too high, it can be almost impossible to lower this value.

Here you can see the recommended pH values for pine and fir:

  • Pine: 5,0-6,0
  • Fir: 4,5-5,5 

The limit of tolerance for the various species is, however, quite big so it will still be possible to achieve a good growth even if the area is close to the limit values. 

It is difficult, however, to grow Nordmann fir on areas with a pH on 6,5 or more. 

The pH value's influence on the absorption of nutrients

Even if the soil has a good composition of nutrients, the plants are not able to absorb these if the pH is too low or too high. This may lead to extreme deficiency diseases and an increased fertilization will not solve the problem. 

A wrong pH value will not only block the absorption of the most important nutrients, but the absorption of micro-nutrients like boron, copper, iron and zinc will also be poor or totally blocked. 

The lack of absorption of nutrients in Christmas trees shows in smaller shoots, shorter and narrower needles, light or perhaps even yellowish/whitish needle colours, loss of needles and necrosis on the needle tips. The root growth and the root mass will be reduced. 

Below you can see the root development, needle colour and general growth in soil with different pH values. 

From left to right: Too high pH, high pH, optimal pH. 

Tree species fit for lands with high pH

In this table you can see which pine and fir species are suitable or not suitable for planting on areas with a high pH.

Suitable Fairly suitable Unsuitable
Abies concoler Picea abies Abies nordmanniana
Abies lasiocarpa Abies homolepsis Abies bornmuelleriana
Picea engelmannii Abies grandis Abies koreana
Picea pungens    
Pinus nigra austriaca    

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