A soil pH tester is a great way to ensure that your plants get the nutrients they need. Soil pH is directly linked to healthy plant growth; therefore, having optimal levels is crucial.
This is helpful for starting seeds indoors and directly sowing seeds into the garden.
So, what’s the best way to test your soil’s pH?
I’m going to go over the 10 best soil pH testers for gardeners. Keep reading for more!
Types of Soil pH Testers
Analog Probe Tester
This is the most popular type of soil pH tester. And, it’s arguably the best soil pH tester if you’re a regular gardener. This type will have one to three probes attached to an analog reader.
You simply insert the probe into the soil, and the dial will tell you whether your soil is acidic or alkaline.
This is a cost-friendly way to keep up with your soil, and they can be used year after year.
Digital Probe Tester
Digital probe testers are almost identical to analog testers but are usually battery-powered. You’ll see your pH levels in number form instead of interpreting a scale.
These are typically pricier than analog, but they are clear and easy to read. Though, if you hate changing out batteries, you may want to stick with analog.
Chemical Test Kit
Chemical test kits will either come as test capsules or strips. You’ll mix your soil sample with water and match the color to the pH chart, indicating your soil’s pH.
There is a little more work involved, but they work well for testing out a new garden area. You also get several capsules/strips per kit, so they’re cost-friendly.
Professional Send-Off Kit
The last type of soil pH test is a professional send-off kit. With these, you’ll collect soil from several different areas of your garden.
You’ll mix the collected soil and stick the sample in the mail for professional testing. Results are usually emailed to you within two weeks.
This is a pricier route. But, the results will usually tell you many things about your soil besides pH. For example, you’ll learn about what nutrients are deficient in your soil and what fertilizer can be used to help.
This is the best soil pH tester for those who are new to gardening and need help deciphering how to amend their soil.
The 10 Best Soil pH Testers
Now we’ll dive into our top picks for the best soil testers. We go over the pros and cons of each one to help you pick the one that best meets your gardening needs.
Kensizer Soil Tester
My top pick overall for the best soil pH tester is the Kensizer soil tester. It’s a simple analog model, and there aren’t any frills. But, it’s reliable and cost-friendly.
The Kensizer comes with two probe testers: one for moisture and one for pH.
The pH tester has a large, easy-to-read dial that measures pH from three to 10. Unlike the multi-purpose testers, there’s no need to squint and determine what you’re looking at.
- Easy to read
- No batteries are needed
- Single-purpose testers
Best Test Strips
Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Kit
The Garden Tutor test kit is the best soil pH tester for those who prefer chemical tests. The kit comes with 100 test strips, so you can perform several tests on different soil samples.
In a cup, mix your soil with equal parts water. Insert the strip into the solution, and wait for the strip to change colors. Line up your results with the provided color chart to determine your soil’s pH.
It’s a little more work than sticking a probe into the soil, but the results are usually clear and accurate.
- Comes with many test strips
- More work than a probe tester
- Single-use strips
Best Comprehensive Test Kit
Luster Leaf Rapid Test Kit
The Luster Leaf test kit not only measures pH. It can also tell if your soil lacks nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. These comprehensive results make this kit one of the best soil pH testers.
Luster Leaf uses capsules instead of test strips. The powder within the capsule is combined with the soil and water sample. The solution will turn colors, indicating the soil’s pH.
This process is repeated to determine NPK levels. The kit only comes with 40 capsules, making it less budget-friendly than the strips. But, you’re getting to know more about your soil than pH.
- Determines pH and NPK levels
- Easy to read
- Pricier than test strips
Best Multi-Purpose Meter
Sonkir Soil pH Meter
The Sonkir Soil pH Meter is the best soil pH tester for multipurpose use. This Sonkir model is an analog probe tester with two probes attached.
While it has two probes, the reader will measure three things: pH, moisture, and sunlight. Since different plants have unique pH and sunlight requirements, this tester is perfect for determining where to plant something.
There’s no need to carry around multiple testers with this model because the Sonkir does it all!
- Great for new plants
- Doesn’t need batteries
- Numbers are small
Best Screen Reader
Fivota Soil pH Meter
The Fivota Soil pH Meter is very similar in build and function to the Sonkir tester. So, what makes Fivota’s version one of the best soil pH testers?
This two-probe analog tester measures pH, moisture, and sunlight like other models. The thing that sets this meter apart is the design. The screen is slightly larger, making it easier to read.
The black, rectangular meter also looks sleeker, making it appear more expensive. But, Fivota is still as cost-friendly as the rest of the testers.
- Easy to read
- Sleek design
- Probes tend to loosen
Best for Quality
Gain Express Soil and Moisture Meter
If you’re looking for a high-quality probe tester, the Gain Express model is the best soil pH tester for you. It’s a lot pricier than other testers, but that’s reflected in its sturdy build.
The waterproof probe is over 12 inches long, reading both pH and moisture. The longer probe works well for penetrating difficult soil. That’s good news if you’re dealing with heavy clay.
The analog reader is also on top of the meter, so it’s easy to see while stuck in the ground.
- Durable materials
- Long probe
Best for Budget
Atree Soil pH Meter
The Atree Soil pH Meter is the best soil pH tester when you don’t have a large budget. It essentially has all the same features as other 3-in-1 analog probe testers.
By inserting the probes into the soil, Atree will determine the pH along with light exposure and soil moisture. Just remember to clean your probes after using them, so they don’t rust.
This tester isn’t built for hard soil. But, if your area is prone to sandy or loamy soil, this tester will do its job. It’s also good to test seed-starting soil, which is usually less compact.
- Not as durable as other testers
- Probes won’t penetrate hard soil
Best for Hard Reaches
Luster Leaf Soil pH Meter
The Luster Leaf Soil pH Meter is an analog probe tester with a twist! The probe is attached to a cord, so it allows you to reach further and be more flexible. This is great for testing hard-to-reach areas.
The tester only reads pH, but the screen has large, easy-to-read numbers. Luster Leaf also includes a cleaning pad to ensure you get the longest use out of the probe.
This versatile product is also made by a trusted brand. You can see why it makes this list of the best soil pH testers.
- Easy to read
- Familiar brand
- Single-purpose tester
Best Send-Off Test
MySoil Soil Test Kit
Let the professionals test your soil for you. The MySoil Soil Test Kit is one of the best soil pH testers for reliability. Besides pH, your test results will cover all the different nutrient levels in your soil.
You’ll simply take samples from your garden area and send them off in the provided test cup.
Results take six to eight days to get back to you. But, you’ll have a digital copy of your soil analysis to refer to when amending your soil.
The results will even tell you how to properly amend your specific soil. If you’re new to gardening, this is very helpful to ensure your garden thrives.
- Reliable results
- Tests several different nutrients
- Includes tips on how to amend your soil
- Takes several days to get results
Best Digital Tester
Bluelab Soil pH Pen
Last on the list of best soil pH testers is the Bluelab Soil pH Pen. It may be last, but it’s certainly not the least. This Bluelab digital probe tester is perfect for commercial farmers and those who are serious about gardening.
The price tag may be a little steep compared to other pH testers. But, it can test the pH levels of soil, water, and rockwool alike. The digital screen will give a clear, easy-to-read answer, along with a temperature reading.
It’s waterproof and made to last. It even comes with a dibber to help keep your probe safe from damage. Along with being a reputable brand, Bluelab also gives a one-year limited warranty.
- Tests many different mediums
- High quality
- Easy-to-read screen
- Requires batteries
The Importance of Testing Soil pH
Even if you’re new to gardening, you are most likely aware that good soil directly impacts plant growth. Soil is where a plant’s roots receive nutrients and water, and poor soil won’t allow those two to thrive.
So, what does this have to do with pH levels? pH measures how acidic your soil is. It can be anywhere on a scale of zero to 14. Ideally, it should be somewhere closer to the middle.
The lower the number, the more acidic your soil is. Blackberries, apple trees, and irises love acidic soil, for example. But, if the soil is too acidic, it may become toxic to plants.
The higher the number, the more alkaline your soil is. Kale, lavender, peas, and lilac are more fond of these higher numbers. But, soil that is too alkaline often struggles to pass nutrients to plants.
The ideal pH level for you is dependent upon what you’re trying to grow. If your soil needs to be more acidic, try amending it with compost, sulfur, or peat moss. If you need more alkaline soil, add lime.
FAQs on Best Soil pH Testers
1. What is the best soil pH tester for me?
The best soil pH tester for you will depend on your gardening habits. Are you regularly checking your soil’s pH throughout the season? A probe tester may save you money in the long run.
If you are just doing an initial test of one area, a chemical test kit may benefit you better. Professional send-off kits are also a great idea for this.
The way I see it: the more you plan on testing pH, the better a digital or analog probe tester would be. Probe testers also work well for testing houseplant soil and potted plants.
2. How deep should I read my soil?
Test your soil at about four to six inches deep. If your soil is especially tough, take a small trowel and break up the soil. This should allow you to access a sample at that depth.
Get the Best Soil pH Tester for Your Garden!
Take your garden’s success to the next level with one of these best soil pH testers. Your results allow you to tailor your soil to a specific plant’s growing needs.
My top pick over for the best soil pH tester is the Kensizer Soil Tester. It’s simple and budget-friendly, and it gets the job done well for the majority of gardeners.
Good soil pH is just one of the factors that help seedlings get established. Give your garden a jumpstart by visiting our Seed Starting page for more blog posts. We go over helpful products along with tips and tricks to grow the most successful seedlings.