The widespread use of phthalate esters (PAEs) in plastic products has made them ubiquitous in environment. In this study, 93 soil samples were collected in 31 plastic-sheds from one of China's largest vegetable production bases, Shouguang City, Shandong Province, to investigate the pollution characteristics and composition of PAEs in soils. Eleven PAEs were detected in the soil samples with the total concentration of 756-1590 μg kg-1 dry soil. Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), bis (2-n-butoxyethyl) phthalate (DBEP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) were the main pollutants with the highest concentrations. Moreover, soil properties, including pH, total organic carbon (TOC), soil enzyme activities, and soil microbial community characteristics, were monitored to explore the associated formation mechanisms. The concentration of PAEs in the plastic-shed vegetable soils was regionalized and the contamination degree in different regions was related to soil microbial characteristics and soil enzyme activities. Phthalate ester is positively correlated with catalase and sucrase, and negatively correlated with dehydrogenase and urease. Furthermore, some tolerant and sensitive bacteria were selected, which possibly could be used as potential indicators of PAE contamination in soil. Dimethyl phthalate (DMP) and DBP also had greater effects on the soil microbial community than other PAEs. The results will provide essential data and support the control of PAEs in plastic-shed vegetable soils in China.