Plant Clinic

Miami-Dade soil hard to test

 

dade@ifas.ufl.edu

Q. How do I test my soil? Can I do it by using a kit or does it need to be done in a lab?

R.T., Miami

With very few exceptions, the pH of Miami-Dade County soils is between 7.4 and 8.2 (very alkaline). Because of the nature of our soils, the pH can’t be lowered.

Sol testing kits are not very accurate and won’t be useful for testing the soils in this county.

Choose plants that are adapted to alkaline soils. A list of such plants is on the following website: http://miami-dade.ifas.ufl.edu/ In the search window, type “low maintenance plants.”

If you are experiencing plant problems, it’s usually not related to soil pH. Your local UF County Extension office can help diagnose what the problem is and offer recommendations.

For people who live in other counties, your county Extension office may recommend a soil test in some cases. Soil testing is done at the University of Florida in Gainesville for a nominal fee but if you live in Miami-Dade County, it can only test the pH and phosphorus (but our soils have high levels of this element).

This UF web site lists the county offices and well as many useful publications on many different topics: http://solutionsforyourlife.ifas.ufl.edu/

Insect Samples

Send undamaged (live or dead) insects in a crush-proof container such as a pill bottle or film canister with the top taped on. Mail them in a padded envelope or box with a brief note explaining where you found the insects.

Do not tape insects to paper or place them loose in envelopes. Insect fragments or crushed insect samples are almost impossible to identify.

Send them to the address of your county extension office, found in the blue pages in the phone book under county government.

Adrian Hunsberger is an entomologist/horticulturist with the UF/IFAS Miami-Dade Extension office. Write to Plant Clinic, 18710 SW 288th St., Homestead, FL 33030; e-mail aghu@ifas.ufl.edu.

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