17 Beautiful Shrubs That Love Acidic Soil

You’ve discovered that your yard has acidic soil and are wondering what you can grow. Luckily, many beautiful plants love acidic soil conditions, including many showy shrubs and longtime garden favorites. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen introduces 17 of her favorite shrubs that thrive in acidic soil.

Weigela Florida is one of the shrubs that grows in acidic soil, features oval, deep green leaves and clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of pink, adorning its arching branches.

Contents

Most landscapes have a few challenges, and if your yard has acidic soil, there may be a few plants that won’t grow well. Luckily, there are a wide variety of shrubs that not only tolerate but thrive in acidic soil conditions. Acidic soil is perfectly natural, and depending on where you live, it may be the dominant soil type in your region. 

The secret to growing healthy plants in any yard is to choose the best plants for your landscape. If you know you have a partially shaded plot with acidic soil, for example, you’ll want to choose plants that will love to grow there. And you don’t need to worry because there are plants that are perfectly well adapted to all possible growing conditions. 

If you’re hoping to incorporate plants with structural diversity, beautiful flowers and foliage, and long-lasting curb appeal, give some serious consideration to shrubs. Adding shrubs to your landscape is a great way to create a low-maintenance and extremely showy display. You can use shrubs along borders and edges to create high or low hedges or simply as beautiful accent plants wherever you need something a little different.

Ready to get started? Read on to learn more about 17 fantastic, easy-to-grow shrubs that perform well in acidic soil conditions.

Arrowwood Viburnum

Viburnum dentatum showcases sturdy stems, glossy green leaves, and clusters of small white flowers.
Adorn your garden with arrowwood viburnum’s early spring blossoms.
botanical-name botanical name Viburnum dentatum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 5 – 10 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2 – 8

The arrowwood viburnum is a beautiful shrub native to the eastern United States. This plant grows naturally as an understory plant or along forested edges, so it is very well adapted to a partially-shaded habitat. Grow it in moist, well-drained soil. Arrowwood viburnum is not picky about soil pH and performs well in both neutral and acidic soils.

Arrowwood viburnum is perhaps best appreciated for its early spring blossoms. As the weather starts to warm, and before the trees leaf out, arrowwood viburnum bursts into bloom to be covered with dense clusters of tiny white flowers. Early pollinators will appreciate this food source, and later in the summer, foraging birds will feast on the small black and blue fruits.

Adam’s Needle

Yucca filamentosa displays tall, stiff stems with sharp-edged leaves and towering spikes of creamy white flowers.
Enhance your landscape with dramatic, evergreen foliage and showy blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Yucca filamentosa
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3 – 8 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 10

Adam’s needle is a variety of yucca native to the central and eastern United States, where it typically grows in sunny areas with poor soil. This interesting yucca plant generally grows about three feet tall, but the towering flowering stalks can reach up to eight feet tall. Adam’s needle makes an interesting landscaping plant because of its dramatic, evergreen, yucca-like foliage.

When Adam’s needle blooms in the middle of summer, the showy white flowers offer plenty of curb appeal and attract plenty of attention and butterflies. This plant makes a great addition to your xeriscape or rock garden. It grows best in full sun but also is very tolerant of partially shaded conditions. Yucca filamentosa is not picky about soil quality as long as the soil is well drained. This plant also does very well in acidic and poor-quality soils.

Azalea

Rhododendron catawbiense features woody stems, thick, leathery green leaves, and large clusters of vibrant pink flowers.
Experience the vibrant beauty of spring with azaleas.
botanical-name botanical name Rhododendron spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6 – 10 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

At the peak of springtime, azalea and rhododendron shrubs burst into bloom. These colorful shrubs are a longtime landscaping favorite. They are easy to grow and low-maintenance, and their reliable spring flowering is something to look forward to year after year. Choose a site for this shrub that has partial sunlight and well-drained acidic soil.

There are an immense number of different azalea cultivars and unique species. You will find flower colors, including white, orange, peach, pink, purple, and dazzling scarlet red. Some azalea varieties are deciduous, while others are evergreen. You will also find that some species are more cold-tolerant or heat-loving than others, so as you ponder the many varieties of azaleas, choose one that’s well-suited to your climate.

Beautybush

Linnaea amabilis presents delicate, trailing stems, oval-shaped green leaves, and clusters of small, bell-shaped white flowers.
Transform your garden with stunning late-spring blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Kolkwitzia amabilis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6 – 10 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

Beautybush is true to its name. This extremely showy flowering shrub is native to China and is easy to grow in a variety of soil conditions, including acidic soils, as long as the soil is well drained. Beautybush performs best in full sun or light shade. Plants grown in full sun will tend to have the most abundant flowers, while those grown in dappled shade display the most colorful fall foliage.

This shrub grows into a dense mass of branches and makes an ideal hedge planting, providing excellent summer privacy. Beautybush blooms in late spring with outstanding displays of pink to white trumpet-shaped flowers. To keep your beautybush compact and help it achieve the best form, prune it each year immediately after flowering. 

Bigleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea macrophylla exhibits sturdy stems, large, broad green leaves, and showy, mophead flower clusters in shades of pink, and blue.
Enjoy vibrant, long-lasting blooms with this garden favorite.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea macrophylla
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 3 – 6 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6 – 11

The bigleaf hydrangea is a longtime gardening favorite shrub. These beautiful plants originated in Asia and have been widely cultivated to include dozens of showy cultivars. There are also several different species of hydrangea, each with slightly different characteristics and growing requirements. 

Hydrangeas bloom in the spring and summer and have amazingly showy flowers. The large, rounded floral clusters are long-lasting and colorful, including many varied shades of white, pink, purple, and blue. These ornamental plants come in a variety of sizes, including container-friendly dwarf varieties for your patio garden.

Blueberry

Close-up of Vaccinium bushes with glossy green leaves and clusters of blue round berries in a sunny garden.
Enjoy juicy, delicious berries from this native North American shrub.
botanical-name botanical name Vaccinium spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1 – 12 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2 – 10

Blueberry shrubs are native to North America. While there are over 20 different species of blueberries, when you search for edible blueberry shrubs at your local garden center, you’ll find many interesting hybrids originating from these native species. Any blueberry shrub you find will prefer a sunny spot with soil that’s organically rich, moist, well-drained, and acidic.

Blueberries are wonderful landscaping plants. These shrubs come in many different sizes with mounding, rounded, or vase-like forms. They bloom in the spring, their white, bell-shaped flowers attracting a myriad of native bees. Shortly after flowering, you can follow the development of the blueberry fruits that start as tiny green nubs and mature into plump, juicy, deliciously edible fruits. You’ll be sharing your crop with fruit-eating birds, but don’t worry; these shrubs are very productive, and there are usually enough berries to go around.

Camellia 

Camellia japonica boasts glossy, dark green leaves and large, waxy flowers in shades of red.
This evergreen shrub bursts into colorful blooms in winter.
botanical-name botanical name Camellia japonica
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 10 – 13 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7 – 9

If you’re looking for a shrub to liven up your winter landscape, a camellia might be just what you’re after. These appealing broadleaf evergreen shrubs have thick, glossy leaves that provide an excellent year-round privacy hedge. Anytime from late fall through early spring, camellias burst into bloom with their large and showy flowers. The flower colors range from white to many varied shades of pink and red, depending on the cultivar. Bees adore these big, bold flowers, and birds take refuge in the dense foliage and branches.

Camellias need a warmer climate to survive the winter. These shrubs thrive in a partially shaded location and make a great hedge or border plant. Give them a location with organically rich, moist, well-drained, acidic soil. Once established, camellias are low maintenance and very easy to grow.

Fragrant Sumac

Rhus aromatica showcases clusters of small, purple-green berries on woody stems, complemented by glossy green foliage.
This shrub dazzles with fall colors and summer berries.
botanical-name botanical name Rhus aromatica
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2 – 6 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 9

Fragrant sumac is a great landscaping plant for a shrub hedge, border, mass planting, or native plant garden. This attractive shrub thrives in acidic soil and is native to eastern North America. Although it’s related to and resembles poison ivy, fragrant sumac doesn’t contain any of the irritants that cause contact dermatitis, so it’s safe to enjoy in your landscape.

Fragrant sumac blooms in the spring with tiny yellow-green flowers that attract pollinators. In the summer, showy burgundy-red fruits adorn the stems, attracting foraging birds and small mammals. In the fall, fragrant sumac will “wow” observers with its spectacular orange, red, and burgundy autumn foliage. Plants spread by root sprouts to form colonies, so you’ll want to allow it plenty of space to sprawl.

Glossy Abelia

Linnaea x grandiflora features trailing stems adorned with small, paired green leaves and delicate pink and white bell-shaped flowers.
Create a vibrant garden oasis with these versatile, fragrant blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Abelia × grandiflora
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2 – 8 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6 – 9

Glossy abelia is a popular garden shrub with dozens of showy and colorful cultivars. These plants are easy to grow and attractive throughout the year. All you need is a sunny or partially shaded location with well-drained soil. Glossy abelia is not picky about soil pH and grows well in acidic, neutral, and alkaline soil conditions. 

This plant blooms most vigorously in the spring, but you may have plants that continue blooming through the summer and into early autumn. The clusters of bell-like flowers are sweetly fragrant and come in shades of pink and white. The flowers bring in butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds during their long blooming period. In warmer climates, glossy abelia stays evergreen through the winter, whereas in zones 6 and 7, it may die back to the ground and regrow the following spring.

Holly

Holly Ilex displays glossy, spiny-edged green leaves and bright red berries.
Create a thriving habitat with diverse, resilient hollies.
botanical-name botanical name Ilex spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3 – 25 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 – 11

Hollies are an immensely diverse group of trees and shrubs and are good performers in acidic soils. Most hollies also prefer full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. Some species will prefer drier soils, while others prefer moist soil. As you select a variety of holly for your landscape, make sure to match its growing conditions with those available in your yard.

Many hollies are native to North America. These are valuable wildlife plants because the inconspicuous spring-blooming flowers attract pollinators, and the showy red fruits attract fall and winter birds. Deciduous hollies drop their leaves for the winter, while the evergreen varieties display their glossy green leaves all winter, making an excellent year-found privacy hedge.

Mugo Pine

Pinus mugo presents dark green needles in pairs and produces small, woody cones with rounded scales.
Enhance your landscape with versatile, cold-hardy, evergreen beauty.
botanical-name botanical name Pinus mugo
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 20 – 25 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2 – 7

The mugo pine is a cold-loving, needled, evergreen native to Europe. This interesting pine has become widely popular with landscapers and is available in a multitude of diverse forms. Dwarf varieties make excellent ground covers, container plants, or small specimens. The larger varieties can grow 20 – 25 feet tall and make excellent hedges and showy additions to a shrub garden.

Mugo pine is densely needled and has many branches, creating wonderful architectural diversity in your landscape throughout the entire year. The evergreen foliage contrasts nicely with broadleaf vegetation and colorful flowers. These shrubs look wonderful anywhere you plant them, and they love a sunny spot with well-drained, acidic soil.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia showcases oak-shaped leaves and elongated clusters of white flowers.
Illuminate your garden with captivating blooms and vibrant foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea quercifolia
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 4 – 8 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 9

Oakleaf hydrangea is a lovely native hydrangea species from the southeastern United States. This beautiful deciduous shrub thrives in full sun or partial shade and would be a great addition to a well-lit woodland garden or to add structure to a native plant garden. 

There are many cultivars of oakleaf hydrangea, and all are attractive and worthy of consideration, especially if you are looking for a very compact dwarf variety. Oakleaf hydrangeas typically have large, rounded clusters of flat white flowers. Blooming in the spring and summer, these plants provide a memorable display. In the fall, you’ll enjoy a second showy display of very colorful fall foliage.

Rose

Rosa bears clusters of small, fragrant roses with double petals in soft pink color, with golden stamens visible at the center.
Transform your garden with timeless elegance and captivating fragrances.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1 – 20 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 11

Roses are one of the most widely recognized and popular garden plants, and there are an amazing number of immensely colorful cultivars. Roses thrive in full sun, although they will also perform well in light shade. They appreciate moist, well-drained, and acidic soil.

A rose would be an ideal shrub for a cutting garden as its flowers are often sweetly scented and long-lasting. You can also grow roses as a hedge or mass planting for a dazzling display. Use rose plants as a border plant along your patio or walkway so you can enjoy their beauty every time you walk by. 

Serviceberry

Amelanchier Serviceberry produces clusters of small, round berries that ripen from red to dark purple-blue, nestled among green foliage.
Enhance your landscape with native charm and seasonal allure.
botanical-name botanical name Amelanchier spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to full shade
height height 15 – 25 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 9

Several varieties of serviceberry are of interest to landscapers with acidic soil. The downy serviceberry (A. arborea) and the Allegheny serviceberry (A. laevis), for example, are two species native to eastern North America. The serviceberries are large shrubs or small trees with deciduous leaves and beautiful white spring-blooming flowers. They thrive in a partially shaded plot with acidic soil that’s moist yet well-drained.

One of the earlier flowering trees that made its appearance each spring is the serviceberry, covered with fragrant and showy white flowers that pollinators adore. By late summer and into fall, their colorful fruits add ornamental interest while also helping feed the local birds. Some serviceberries have very beautiful fall leaf displays with shades of yellow, orange, and burgundy red. Grow a serviceberry anywhere you want a showy mid-sized shrub as an accent plant or border.

Star Magnolia

Magnolia stellata exhibits slender stems with fuzzy buds that open to reveal star-shaped white flowers.
Elevate your garden with dazzling spring blossoms and fragrant charm.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia stellata
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 15 – 20 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

The star magnolia is a show-stopping deciduous shrub with spectacular spring flowers. Early each year, before the leaves emerge, these trees burst into bloom. They will be covered with white or pink flowers, depending on which cultivar you are growing, each flower sporting many long, dramatic petals. These fragrant flowers are followed by showy bright pink seed capsules that burst open to reveal a mass of reddish-orange seeds.

Star magnolias prefer organically rich, moist, acidic soil with full sun or light shade. These large, many-branching shrubs have a pleasing rounded form and make a great accent plant for your landscape. Grow them near a walkway or patio where you can enjoy the sweet fragrance of their blossoms and observe the many pollinators that will come to visit. 

Weigela

Weigela Florida has glossy, green foliage and showy clusters of tubular flowers in varying hues of pink.
Transform your landscape with vibrant blooms and elegant arching branches.
botanical-name botanical name Weigela florida
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6 – 10 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

Weigela is a highly ornamental deciduous shrub native to Asia. It thrives in full sun or light afternoon shade and prefers moist, well-drained soil. Weigela is not picky about soil pH and thrives in acidic and other soil types.

Grow your weigela as an ornamental border shrub or hedge. The flowers come in varied shades of pink, depending on the cultivar. Some cultivars also have showy red-tinged leaves. If allowed to grow naturally, weigela develops long, arching branches that look particularly elegant when covered in their springtime blooms. Prune your weigela immediately after flowering to help maintain a more compact shape. 

Witch-alder

Fothergilla displays slender stems with serrated green leaves and cylindrical, white, bottlebrush-like flower clusters.
Enrich your garden with fragrant blooms and stunning autumn foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Fothergilla spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2 – 12 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 9

Witch-alder, also commonly known as Fothergilla, is a deciduous shrub native to the southeastern United States. Large witch-alter (F. latifolia) can reach a mature height of 12 feet, while coastal witch-alder (F. gardenii) is a more compact six feet tall. Both of these native species prefer moist, well-drained, acidic soils. 

Witch-alders have white, bottlebrush flower clusters that bloom in the spring. These fragrant flowers are very showy and much loved by pollinators. In the autumn, the dazzling red-orange foliage demands plenty of attention. Witch-alders spread by root suckers and will eventually form dense colonies unless the suckers are pruned regularly. Grow this plant along a partially shaded forest edge or use it as a hedge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to make my soil more acidic to grow these shrubs?

If you don’t have acidic soil but want to grow one of these plants, you may not need to do anything special with your soil. All of the plants in this list thrive in acidic soils, but not all require acidic soil conditions to perform well. Check the soil requirements of the plant you’d like to grow. For example, blueberries need acidic soil to do well, whereas magnolias tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. If you need to amend your soil to change the pH, prepare to spend some time with soil testing and proper amendment techniques.

Can I mix plants that love acidic soil with those that prefer neutral soil? 

If your yard naturally has acidic soil, it will probably be easier to focus on plants that prefer these conditions rather than try to change the soil pH. Otherwise, choose plants that are adaptable so you can grow many different types together. You can do some small-scale soil amendments to create localized bedding conditions, but if you want to mix several plants over a large area, it will be much less work to simply grow plants together that all appreciate the same soil type, sun, and moisture levels.

What is soil pH?

Soil pH is a measurement of the soil’s acidity level. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral. Any soil pH less than 7.0 is considered acidic, and any pH greater than 7.0 is considered alkaline. A soil pH between 6.0 and 7 is quite common and ideal for growing most plants. You can buy a soil pH test kit or contact your state’s Cooperative Extension office to find out more about how to test the soil in your yard. Understanding your soil’s pH level will help you identify the best plants to grow and thrive in your landscape.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of what soil type you have in your yard, you will be able to find plenty of ornamental plants to liven up your landscape. Growing shrubs is very rewarding and a great idea to help increase curb appeal. With so many beautiful species to choose from, it can be hard to pick just one! You can enjoy shrubs for their flowers, foliage, and overall form. Many flowering shrubs benefit pollinators and songbirds while also being useful and compatible with many different landscape designs. So dig right in and grow some spectacular shrubs that you can then enjoy for many years to come.

SHARE THIS POST
A red-flowering currant, its vibrant leaves embracing clusters of delicate pink blooms, basks in the warm embrace of the radiant sun.

Shrubs

17 Best North American Native Shrubs For Your Garden

Do you want to diversify your landscape? By adding a few beautiful native shrubs, you can easily increase its structural diversity, color, and curb appeal. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen introduces 17 of her favorite easy-to-grow and super-showy native shrubs.