How useful is lime for plants?


When the soil you have is too acidic with a pH of 5.5 or lower, what you have is a soil that, due to its composition, blocks some essential minerals for plants such as iron and magnesium. Although there are many species that grow wonderfully in it, there are others who have many problems. To solve them, or even to prevent them, it is highly recommended to add lime. But did you know that there are different types? Each of them has different utilities, so we are going to see them all to buy the one we need.

In this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know are the different types of lime, their uses and their characteristics.

What is

lime in gardening

Limestone is found in nature, which is mainly composed of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). When the CaCO3 is passed into furnaces with a temperature of 1200ºC, calcium oxide (CaO) is obtained, which is what is known as quicklime. With this in mind, there are three types of lime:

  • Agricultural lime, which is nothing more than calcium carbonate (CaCO3)
  • Quicklime, which is calcium oxide (CaO). It is the best known.
  • Dead or slaked lime, which is calcium hydroxide (Ca (OH) 2)

Types of lime

pH correction

Each type of lime is recommended for different uses, which is:

Agricultural lime

This lime is the one most used in gardening for improve the soil and raise the pH. By doing so, it is achieved that the plants can assimilate the nutrients much better, and that is not to mention that it provides calcium. It is also used for control fungi typical of acid soils. It is nothing more than an alkalizing material that is considered an excellent neutralizer of the acidity of soils and a pH corrector. Most of the time the soil has acidity problems due to excessive percolation of the rain. It can also happen that the soil begins to become more acidic since we use excessively acidifying fertilizers, we allow crop residues to decompose and apply organic fertilizers to crops.

All of the above reasons make the soil more acidic and agricultural lime can help alleviate these problems. Let's see what are the advantages of using agricultural lime:

  • The acidity of the soil decreases, so it can increase production in crops again.
  • Shuffle the toxicity of aluminum. For many crops this metal is more toxic and with the application of agricultural lime it becomes less toxic.
  • Improves the use of fertilizers since they become more efficient.
  • Supplement calcium to the soil.
  • It improves the physical conditions of the soil by being less acidic.
  • By having better conditions, the availability of nutrients in the soil is improved.
  • A greater decomposition of organic matter is obtained.
  • Increases the absorption of both water and air
  • Phosphorus becomes more usable in the soil
  • Stimulate the activity of nitrogen fixing bacteria in the air. It also makes the nitrogen belonging to the fertilizers more usable.
  • Reduces the damage caused by fungi in some of the most common diseases in crops.


It is used in gardening to prepare broths (such as Bordeaux mixture) which eliminate pests that affect plants, as a herbicide, and as fertilizer since it provides calcium which, despite the fact that it is a micronutrient, is essential for the correct development and maintenance of plants. Of course, you have to be very careful and never put it on or around the plants, since it would dehydrate them.

It is often used as a disinfectant for desert wells and organic debris. It also helps eliminate bad odors. You just have to sprinkle it on the surface and after a few minutes add a similar amount of water. The solution that is formed has an alkaline pH, which is why it serves as a fungicide and bactericide. Quicklime is characterized by its versatility since it can be used in almost all industrial processes, either as a neutralizer, flux, lubricant, drier, cementing agent, absorbent, precipitant, disinfectant, waterproofing agent and as a raw material.

Slaked lime

Can be used in the obtaining compostAs biocide and to improve soil characteristics, both acidity and porosity. This material has several valuable advantages over other garden materials. Let's see what these advantages are:

  • It is able to protect the surface from moisture. Many plants need protection against excessive moisture from both the soil and the environment.
  • It has a disinfecting effect. This effect is quite interesting from the point of view of the invasion of possible pests and diseases to our crops.
  • Improves the quality of various event concrete solutions. This is more industrial than gardening. However, you can improve these solutions to make them more efficient on construction sites.

What is the dosage?

soil ph

The amount of lime to be used is what the soil needs. The soil will need an amount of lime depending on its pH and its consistency. The most advisable thing is that a professional laboratory carry out soil analyzes in order to know how much to use. The grass can tolerate a pH of between 5.5 and 7.5Therefore, approximately 10-25 kilos of limestone are required for every 300 square meters of surface to be able to correct a lawn that has a slightly acidic pH. If we want to raise the pH of 30 square meters of sandy loam soil you will need 3 kilos, for a medium loamy soil 4 kilos and for a heavy clay soil 5 kilos.

The general dose is 1 to 2 grams per kilo of soil, once a year. But you have to do a Chemical analysis of the previous soil to determine the exact amount. Once you have added the lime to the soil, you will notice changes, although it can take between half a year and a whole year to dissolve completely. That is, you won't be able to see the full effect until it dissolves.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the uses of lime and its characteristics.

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  1.   Juan Manuel Guerrero Huerta said

    You can dilute lime and apply it by sprinkling a pine plant in a container with a height of 15 cm.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Juan Manuel.
      I do not recommend it. The lime will raise the pH of the soil which can cause problems for the pine by not allowing it to have essential nutrients such as iron, manganese or zinc.
      A greeting.

    2.    Joan said

      Hello, good afternoon, a query, I have clay soil, I think ... it compacts and hardens a lot and I don't get any type of plant because it gets like a stone ... would it be okay if I lime it? Thanks in advance

      1.    Monica Sanchez said

        Hi Joana.
        No, don't lime it. Clay soils are already rich in calcium 😉.

        What I do recommend is, every time you go to plant something, make a large hole, 1m x 1m, and fill it with universal substrate mixed with perlite in equal parts. In this way, you will get them to grow well. Here you have more tips to improve your soil.

        If you have any other questions, contact us.

        By the way, I leave you the link of plants that live well in clay soils, click here.


  2.   Hugo said

    Hello, agricultural lime can be used in coffee nursery?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Hugo.
      I do not recommend it. Coffee plants grow in slightly acidic soils, that is to say low, from 4 to 6. What lime would do would be to raise the pH, causing problems for them.
      A greeting.

  3.   willmer said

    Hello, I can paint the legs of my ornamental fruit trees with lime salt in grain, it is a preparation, I really do not know if I hurt them, thank you

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Willmer.
      Sorry, I have not understood you well. If this preparation contains salt, it is not advisable since the salt absorbs all the moisture from the plant, which could cause its death.
      If you don't wear it, well, it will depend on your tastes. The trunks of fruit trees are usually painted to prevent the proliferation of pests, but in reality it is not necessary.
      A greeting.

  4.   Gerard Cruz said

    I can use lime in adenium and what kind and proportion, thanks

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello, Gerardo.
      You can use slaked lime, adding two grams for each kilo of soil once a year.
      A greeting.

  5.   Regina said

    Hello I want to ask about garden lime, I read that it is used to apply on the ground to remove the smell of pichin from dogs, will it be toxic for the dog?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi regina.
      The truth is that I couldn't tell you. In principle I would say that it is not toxic, but I would not risk it.
      To remove the smell you can spray the soil with water and vinegar (1 part water with 1 part vinegar), which is not dangerous for the furry.
      A greeting.

  6.   George said

    Hello, I have read that painting the trunks of fruit trees with slaked lime prevents pests, especially aphids because ants no longer climb the tree. It's true? Good for something? Thanks.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Jorge.
      Yes, it can be used to prevent pests. But in the long run it could backfire, as it would not let the tree breathe.
      If you want to avoid aphids, I recommend putting chromatic (blue) traps, or doing preventive treatments with neem oil. Insecticidal oil applied in winter also helps prevent them.
      A greeting.

  7.   Jacinto perez said

    Hello Monica

    Would it help to use some type of lime to disinfect garden soil?
    This year 2017 has been a disaster for the garden I have, the plants have dried up or they have not developed. by the red spider and I think some fungi.
    The earth is contaminated by these parasites.
    I would appreciate any ideas.

    Thank you

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Jacinto.
      Rather than lime, I recommend using the solarization method, which consists of covering the ground with plastic. You have more information here.
      A greeting.

  8.   Elia said

    Hi Monica, I could apply or paint the trunk of my papayas ...

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Elia.
      It is a very personal decision. There are those who claim that it prevents pests, but in my opinion, it is much more harmful than beneficial, since it does not let the tree trunk breathe and over time it is inevitable that it will rot.
      A greeting.

  9.   EDITH said

    Hi Monica, what lime do I use for saline soils and alkaline soils, I want to plant corn and alfalfa. They are coastal soils.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Edith.
      For alkaline soils, I do not recommend adding lime, as they already have 🙂. In any case, you could add quicklime, but without overdoing it.
      For saline ones, I recommend adding slaked lime.
      A greeting.

  10.   ELISEO BONILLA said

    Hello. I am making the holes to plant avocado (avocado) variety hass. but the soil is acidic (presence of ferns), what and how much lime should I apply to each hole?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Elisha.
      It will depend on the size of the hole. The dose is 1 to 2 grams of lime for every kilo of soil.
      A greeting.


    My garden has the blind chicken, it kills the chili plants by eating their roots, and they die. What do you advise me to eliminate this pest?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Inoel.
      You can treat the earth with garlic infusion. For this you have to chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and boil them in 1 liter of water. Then, let it cool and spray with the solution.
      A greeting.

  12.   Carlos said

    Reading the comments I see that I made a mistake I bought lime and made it in the land where you planted a pine and a rose bush, do you think they survive or how do I do so that they do not die

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi carlos.
      In principle, what I would recommend is to water conscientiously. In this way the lime will penetrate further into the earth and there will come a time when there will be nothing left.
      A greeting.

  13.   Johan said

    I have a plot on a hill where pine trees were planted and there are still a few left. The point is that there is a large space free of trees and the soil is very acidic. The earth has been stopped several times and planted and they grow a little and the plant dies the earth is hard the same. thanks for your help

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Johan.
      Where there are pines you can't put anything else 🙁
      These trees have very invasive roots, which prevent other plants from growing.
      A greeting.

  14.   martha roses said

    I have a Chinese mandarin tree and it is invaded by ants, these are on the ground, if I paint the trunk, they will be removed

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Martha.
      I recommend you more sprinkle the surface of the earth with diatomaceous earth. You can find it for sale on the internet, as well as in those stores that sell a little of everything (fruits, food for animals, substrates and products for plants,…). The dose is 35g for each liter of water.
      A greeting.

  15.   Javier said

    Can I use agricultural or live lime to use in a sugar cane?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Javier.
      By canal do you mean canal? If so, you can use it. If not, write us again.
      A greeting.

  16.   Domitian said

    I have a corral where my dogs live, they have little shade and I would like to provide it, I like small trees with brightly colored flowers, I am looking on the internet and they appear:
    -Tree of Judea
    -Jupiter tree
    -Cowfoot tree or orchid tree
    Can you advise me which one could go better in a dry climate that is very cold in winter (down to -11-15º) and very hot in summer (18-20º).

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Domiciana.
      For your climate I would recommend the Jupiter tree, it is the one that best withstands the cold of the ones you have put.
      Also the Cercis siliquastrum could be a good option. It can be pruned well and resists up to -18ºC.
      A greeting.

  17.   WENCESLAO Cajiga said

    I have a small garden, when I plant the plants directly into the ground there are some that die and I take them out and I notice in their roots that they are attacked by a worm that looks like a termite about 3/4 of an inch. They were telling me about lime for when one sows a hole must be made and lime must be watered in it, to avoid any type of fungi and insects, I really do not know if lime works and what type of lime is the convenient, and I also do not know if the lime is stirred with all the earth that is removed from the hole or is only thrown at the bottom of the hole as I explained in previous lines.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Wenceslao.
      Before using lime, I would recommend buying diatomaceous earth (they sell it on amazon). This is a very fine white powder composed of fossilized microscopic algae that has insecticidal and repellent properties. 35 grams are diluted in 1 liter of water and watered (do not use a spray, because it immediately clogs).

      If you cannot find it, you can use quicklime, stirring it with the earth.

      A greeting.

  18.   caesar alexis said

    I have a 10 × 10 saline field and I am going to transplant pepper (California) .. can I add agricultural lime, yes or no? and how much ?? or in any case what would you recommend me please grace

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Cesar.
      I recommend adding mulch, as it will also serve as soil compost, something that will be good for peppers.
      You have to take a good layer, about 10-15cm thick, and mix it with the earth.
      A greeting.

  19.   Claudia said

    Hi Monica, I have an avocado with a big hole all the way down one side of the lower trunk. It can get rain. I already cleaned the rotten wood. How do I heal it? And how do I fill it so that water doesn't get in?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Claudia.
      I recommend you remove with a razor previously disinfected with pharmacy alcohol everything that is rotten and / or smells bad. Afterward, treat it with fungicide and seal the hole with healing paste.
      A greeting.

  20.   Tony torres said

    Hi Monica, I greet you from Honduras, and my question would be, what can I do if my soursop tree bears flowers but does not manage to grow the fruit, the flower ripens and drops the petals and the fruit does not finish growing, I would appreciate some advice

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi, Tony.
      I recommend fertilizing it with organic fertilizers, for example with guano or chicken manure (if the latter can be obtained fresh, let it dry for a week in the sun).
      Do it once a month, so the tree will have enough energy to ripen its fruits.
      A greeting.

  21.   luisanny clean said

    Hello? the chemistry teacher told me that I had to choose 2 or 3 essential inorganic nutrients for its cultivation and development. Well, I am working with the MINT plant, I have already chosen a fertilizer that is coffee grounds but I am missing 2 nutrients that can help in its development and I found the potassium sulfate and calcium hydroxide but it is very difficult for me to know their usefulness . Please advise me?

  22.   Raphael Medellin said

    In my garden I generate a lot of compost but it gets full of cochineal, earwigs, ants, when preparing it, can I combine it with quicklime?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Rafael.
      Yes of course, no problem. But if you can, I would recommend diatomaceous earth more (they sell it in amazon, and also in those stores that sell food for pets and garden, fruits, gardening tools, ... well, a little of everything), that you it would also serve as a fertilizer. The dose of this soil is 25g for each liter of water.
      A greeting.

  23.   Alice said

    Good morning!… My garden gets little sun which barely reaches the ground and that causes it to have a plague of snails ... that I can put to eliminate them and help my mini garden grow since my plants are in very bad condition for the snails for more than clean I do not finish…. Beforehand thank you very much

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Alicia.
      We recommend you read this article.
      A greeting.

  24.   Enrique Guillen said

    Greetings, my region is Miami Fl, I have a 7-year-old lemon tree, strong healthy and very productive for two ani's neither flowers nor lemons some pests but I have been able to control them currently the tree is beautiful and healthy but no flowers and nothing of lemons ... what do I do? Thanks from antenano

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello, Enrique.
      I recommend you take care of it as before. If you have not paid it, start doing it. You'll see how sooner or later it will be encouraged to bear fruit.
      A greeting.

  25.   Cecil said


    I have recently observed a cottony mealybug infestation on my plants (nopales, guava trees and other succulents.) They recommended mixing a little lime with water and spraying it on the leaves.
    Do you think it is a good method?

    Thanks for your answer

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Cecilio.
      No, I don't recommend it, as the pores will become clogged and the plants will have trouble breathing.
      What you can do is treat them with diatomaceous earth, potassium soap, or with these other remedies.
      A greeting.

  26.   Susana said

    Hello, I am consulting you .. in two seasons I have planted cherry tomatoes, but in a little more than two months the leaves turn yellow and the plant is dying. I have been told that it may be a fungus (Mildew). How do I treat the land to plant again and the same does not happen to me? I would appreciate your advice. Greetings.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Susan.
      For that, I recommend you disinfect the earth through solarization. You have information here.
      A greeting.

  27.   Rocco said

    Hello, I have a 10-task field planted with beans, I want to put lime so that no plague comes, you recommend I put lime and if I can put it on the leaves or on the trunk and what kind of lime, I am from the Dominican Republic, thank you.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Rocco.
      For what you need I recommend using slaked lime, but do not use it on the plants as it would damage them.
      A greeting.

  28.   Hernan Armas said

    Good afternoon my dear Monica, reading your article I liked it a lot.
    I want to ask you a question, it is true that lime helps to eliminate the fungi that attack the onion.
    Thus, how many kilos can be applied per hectare.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Hernán.
      I am glad that you have enjoyed the article.
      Fungi cannot be eradicated, not entirely. For its prevention, it is best to solarize the land (in this post explains how to do it), and try not to over water.
      And if you want to further reduce the risks, you can do preventive treatments with copper or sulfur, sprinkling a little around (as you would add salt).
      A greeting.

  29.   Gerson Suarez said

    Good afternoon, Monica, I have a garden and I have planted sweet chili peppers several times and when they start to flower the plant turns yellow in spots and remains without producing

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Gerson.
      To prevent more from happening, I recommend you fertilize the soil before planting anything. Add a good layer of organic compost (about 10cm), like chicken manure, and mix it well with the soil.

      After about 10 days, plant the peppers. And it is likely that they will be better 🙂

      A greeting.

  30.   Luis Sanchez said

    Hello, I have a toothed lavender, the flower is very discolored, I read that the lavender soil must be very alkaline and I have calcium hydroxide for dental use, could you tell me if it is advisable to place a few grams on the earth to make the flora more colorful. Also sow another type of lavender is still small, in case it is advisable to use the hydroxide at what times should you do it, thank you in advance !.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Luis.
      Lavender grows in alkaline soils, indeed. In acids its leaves and flowers lose color.

      Rather than pour them directly on the ground, you can dissolve a few grams (a tablespoon in 5l of water) and then water. In this way, the roots will have it within reach more quickly, and the plants will improve faster. Do this once a week, or two at the most. If you don't see improvement, start doing it three times / week, but it shouldn't be necessary.

      A greeting.

  31.   Hugo said

    Hello Monica,
    I have a guava tree but when it bears fruit in the center of the fruit it has a worm,
    Reading your article, you mention that diatomaceous earth is effective for pests.
    Could I use it to fix my problem ???
    Thank you in advance for your answer.
    Greetings from Oaxaca….

  32.   Valois said

    I can use the Hydrate of Lime for vineyard, basil, oregano and rosemary.
    The soil in my garden is parched, black and compacts very easily. I can't make the lemon tree or the bomb fruit (papaya) thrive Thank you very much

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Valois.
      Rather than adding lime hydrate, I recommend you make a large planting hole, 1m x 1m, and fill it with soil from your garden mixed with equal parts volcanic sand type substrate. In this way, it is likely that the plants you want will grow better 🙂

      1.    karla said

        Hello Monica, I am from Honduras, my property has a lot of pine, they tell me that the soil is very acid, there are parts that the earth is white and is usually very hard, they recommended me to add lime, but the lime here I do not know what it is, I think It would be quicklime because it is the one that takes an artisanal process. What I have a lot in the orange and lemon trees is that the branches turn black, the Persian lemon has not borne fruit and they are already 3 years old, only the real slime, which is a giant lemon so to speak. papayas turn crystalline and take on black spots, my climate is tropical. Beforehand thank you very much.

        1.    Monica Sanchez said

          Hello Karla.

          Yes, the ideal would be to put slaked lime on the ground, at least a layer of 10 centimeters all over it and mix. If it involves a lot of effort, another option would be to only pour in those areas where you are going to plant, but for this you would first have to make a large hole, at least 1 x 1 meter, and mix the earth that you have removed with the lime.


  33.   Antonio said

    Thank you very much, what good information. 👍🏽🤝

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Antonio.
      Thank you very much for commenting.
      A greeting.