When I started gardening I planted whatever wherever. Some plants thrived; many died. Finally I learned the importance of testing the soil - when you know the pH, mineral content, and moisture level of your plot (and how much light it gets) you’re all set for success.
Do YOU know if your soil is missing nutrients? Perhaps you have plants that refuse to grow even though there’s another one of the same type just yards away! This could be due to an imbalance in your soil, and a test kit can help solve this problem.
A good soil test kit will be able to tell you if your soil's nutrients are off, and you can then correct it to get healthy soil, beautiful lawns, and thriving plants all season long.
Recommended Soil Test Kits
#1 - The Best Moisture Meter: XLUX T10
If you’re like me and overwater plants ‘because they look thirsty’ then you need a moisture meter! No more drowned succulents or thirsty cacti - fingers crossed…
This one from XLUX is excellent. It’s very affordable and it’s very easy to use. The company makes sure you know how to use and gives a gazillion reminders on how NOT to use it. If you only need to test for moisture in your potted plants or garden, then get this one.
Comes with very easy-to-follow instructions; the box even has a plant watering guide so you can find your plant and know what number or zone you should keep the moisture level in
The display is very easy to understand - shows if your soil is Dry, Moist, or Wet
Works very well; gives accurate readings
No batteries needed
Won’t work well in very loose soil
#2 - The Best Soil Test Kit For Beginners: Supersks 3-in-1
You'll get three in one testing capabilities with this kit, and it includes a moisture test, sunlight test, and pH test. You can set it to one measurement at a time and get accurate readings. This test kit is small, compact, and made out of plastic and metal for added durability and convenience.
It's very user-friendly as well, and you simply stick the probe into the soil and get a reading. You get double needle detection for accuracy. Simply leave it in the soil and after 10 minutes, you’ll be able to get accurate measurements.
Three in one: test for light, moisture and PH levels
Comes with double needle detection
Does not need batteries
Does not give instant results
May have to measure more than once for accurate results
A bit on the big side and best used for outdoors rather than small potted plants
#3 - Most Affordable Moisture Meter: Onpiece
Another good moisture meter on our list apart from the widely popular XLUX is the Onpiece meter. The function is essentially a mirror of the XLUX in that it’s a single-feature meter. It is designed to measure the moisture in your soil only. It does NOT measure for sunlight and pH.
The 3-in-one soil meters are good if you have picky plants which need all kinds of monitoring but if your main problem is only overwatering, then you can save a lot by getting this very inexpensive moisture meter. If you compare the prices of the two brands, Onpiece comes out significantly cheaper.
Small size so it can be used for indoors and for small potted plants; approx 7 inches in height
Works as advertised
No batteries needed
#4- Professional Soil Analysis: Soil Savvy Test Kit
You get a ready-to-use professional-grade soil test kit when you purchase this product. It’s very easy to use. You just collect your sample, mail it to the company, and after one week, you get very detailed results.
The results include a full report of your soil’s PH and the 14 most important minerals for your plants. A copy is emailed to you and they can also be viewed via the company website.
Apart from the soil analysis, you also receive specialized fertilizer recommendations based off of your results. This allows you to tailor a treatment plan to balance your soil's nutrients.
Tests for pH and 14 other nutrients
The postage is already paid for, it’s easy to get the results, and the format of the soil analysis report is surprisingly easy to understand
Resulting fertilizer recommendations are tailored to your soil's needs
Buyers are happy with the excellent service and quick responses from the company
Takes 7 to 10 days to get results
#5 - Best for pH Reading: Sonkir MS X1
I used to have the Sonkir MS02 soil meter and it was great except that the pH readings were wonky. It’s a good thing that the company listened to all the critical feedback and came out with a much better and improved model - the MS X1. After a few uses, I can really tell the pH meter on this one finally works.
To give you a run-down of the features, this soil meter can test for 3 things: moisture, light, and pH. The probes on this iteration were improved and thus are more sensitive to soil changes. Going from one reading to the other is as simple as toggling the switch on the device.
Another welcome improvement is the display. The enlarged screen is now much easier to read, which is great for seniors.
One final improvement I want to take note of is the size of the device. It’s almost an inch shorter now than the Supersks and that makes it more wieldy for use indoors.
Three in one: for monitoring light, Ph, and moisture in soil
Improved accuracy of readings
Slightly shorter than the Supersks by an inch
Improved display; interface is easier to read
Does not need batteries
Good customer service
Good value for money
I’ve had my current soil meter for a long while now and I’ve been wondering why some other folks end up breaking theirs so I thought I’d share some tips on how to make your device last longer.
A soil meter is a fragile tool so you can’t just go sticking it into hard or packed ground. The surrounding soil should be loose enough that you can insert the probe easily without too much resistance. Remember that it’s not like a nail you can hammer into the ground.
Don’t leave it inserted in soil for more than an hour or else the metal probes will get corrupted.
Wipe clean after each use. Don’t be lazy!
Don’t leave it out in the rain.
If you are testing if your soil meter works, don’t put it in a glass of water to test for “wet”. It just doesn’t work that way. It only works in soil. Rather, I’d suggest you stick it into a pile of dry peat and then add water slowly to the pile and then you can test that.
Don’t drop your soil meter.
That’s it! I may have said it’s a fragile tool but if you follow all of the above, your soil meter should last you a long time.
What will a soil test tell me?
A soil test will test you how acidic your soil is, its moisture level, and how much sunlight it’s getting. Depending on the kit, it might also tell you the mineral levels, such as Nitrogen.
What is the best way to test soil pH?
The best way to test soil pH is to send a sample to a professional laboratory. Home soil kits can provide useful results but not with the precision of a real lab. Of course, home kits are much cheaper.
How accurate are soil pH test kits?
They are fairly accurate. The readings won’t be as accurate as those from a lab. They should be accurate enough to help you decide what to plant there.
Should I test my soil before planting?
It is usually better to test your soil before planting. Some experts say ‘just plant it and see if it works’ but if you want a bit more certainty then testing can be helpful.