There are plenty of lovely plants for clay soil. Rather than fight it, why not cultivate plants that grow well on clay soil?

If your garden soil errs on the clay side then growing plants for clay soil will save you a lot of effort. By growing plants that thrive in these conditions you won’t have to put in hours of work to try and change the soil.

Clay soil can be heavy and hard to dig. It’s prone to waterlogging in winter and cracking in summer, but it’s also nutritious and moisture retentive. It’s far better to grow plants that thrive in clay soil and the good news is that there are some great plants to choose from. Here are our top plants for clay soil.

10 plants for clay soil:

Ribes sanguineum

10. Ribes sanguineum

Flowering currant flowers are dainty and delicate, adding finesse to the garden in late spring. The plant itself if tough, vigorous and quick-growing. This shrub will quickly establish in clay soil and can reach over 2m in height. Prune after flowering in summer if the plant gets too big.

Malus (crab apple)

9. Malus (crab apple)

Crab apples are superb all round plants for clay soil. A crab apple in full bloom is one of the most picturesque spring scenes. Malus hupehensis produces a particularly graceful display of white blossom in spring and colourful fruit in autumn. There’s the opportunity to make crab apple jelly, too.

Bergenia cordifolia

8. Bergenia cordifolia

Often referred to as ‘elephants ears’ due to their leaves which look similar! Bergenia is an evergreen perennial that produces spires of pink or red flowers in spring. A good plant for ground cover, it looks at its best planted in a block because the flowers have more impact in big numbers. A very tough plant for clay soil and tolerant of partial shade too.

Spiraea japonica

7. Spiraea japonica

A tremendous shrub to place near the front of a border. It shows off thousands of tiny flowers in summer, held together in tight clusters. Spiraea japonica is not fussy and grows well on clay soil. It will also tolerate drought well once established, after a couple of growing seasons in a border. The flowers attract bees and butterflies.

Viburnum tinus

6. Viburnum tinus

Viburnum is an underrated evergreen shrub for clay soil. The opening of its white flowers announces the end of winter and provides a pretty backdrop for a border in early spring. Dense, compact growth make this a useful plant for screening off a view and creating a sense of enclosure in the garden.

Syringa vulgaris

5. Syringa vulgaris

Lilacs are tough shrubs that often get overlooked, perhaps because they often don’t look attractive in the garden centre. Though their flowering time is fairly short, a lilac in late spring is a glorious sight. The scent of the blooms is delicious. They make glorious cut flowers.

Lonicera periclymenum

4. Lonicera periclymenum

A sweetly scented honeysuckle is a true summer treat and this species of honeysuckle grows well on clay soil. A scented climber is always a memorable plant, the perfume easy to access, especially if you grow it by your front door. The variety ‘Serontina’ has flowers that display a vivid deep red colouring.

Pulmonaria

3. Pulmonaria

Pulmonaria is tolerant of shade as well as being one of the top perennial plants for clay soil. This spring-flowering, low-growing perennial is a good source of food for early bees. Its cheerful blue flowers make beautiful accompaniments to daffodils in spring. The distinctive dotty foliage can be refreshed if you cut it back in early summer.

Alchemilla mollis

2. Alchemilla mollis

This is a very useful edging plant for clay soil. It produces wispy stems of yellowish green flowers in early summer, that create a ‘frothy’ look from a distance. Low-growing, Alchemilla mollis is a useful plant for covering the bare stems of ‘leggy’ shrubs and roses. It also grows well in partial shade.

Image: David Austin Roses

1. Rose ‘Roald Dahl’

All roses like clay soil. Choose a repeat-flowering variety and you’ll be rewarded with at least two flushes of flowers each growing year. Released in 2016, ‘Road Dahl’ is a repeat-flowering rose. It grows well on clay-soil, is very free-flowering and has a strong scent. This rose was launched by David Austin Roses and £2.50 from the sale of each rose will be donated to Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.

Find our favourite plants with true blue flowers here.

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Need plants for murky soils that drain poorly? With our clay soils, the answer is probably “yes” for at least part of your yard, especially when we have a rainy year such as this one.

Fortunately, there are more plants available for this problem than you might think. This is a culled-down list of plants for different uses in the landscape. Unless specified, these are plants for damp areas—clay soil that doesn’t drain well—not necessarily bogs or constantly wet soils.

Perennial Flower Power

Hibiscus ‘Cherry Cheesecake’ / Homewood Nursery

Canna Lily (Canna x generalis) – Known for the bright orange, yellow, pink, white, or red summer flowers set atop lush, tropical-style foliage. The foliage is a show in and of itself, usually green or burgundy but often striped with yellow and/or orange depending on the variety. Cannas can also be planted in bogs or pond edges. Grows to 3-5 feet in full sun.

Perennial Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) – Bombshell blooms the size of small plates explode in red, white, and pink in the summer landscape, usually July through fall. Dwarf forms average 3-4 feet tall and wide while the regular varieties top out around 6-8 feet tall and wide. These will also grow in swampy areas. Plant in full sun.

Gifted Groundcovers

Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus) – For those who want something diminutive that doesn’t take over the planet there is sweet flag. Tidy fans of golden, grass-like foliage form neat mats at the base of plants or the edge of a walk or border. Sweet flag is low maintenance and evergreen. It can be grown in bogs, as well. Plant in sun to part sun.

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) – Golden chartreuse coin-shaped leaves hug the ground to create a pretty, mostly evergreen, groundcover in damp or wet areas. Watch where you plant it because it can invade a lawn. Plant in sun to light shade.

Berry Ornamental Shrubs

Beautyberry / Homewood Nursery

Beautyberry (Callicarpa sp.) – In late summer, the arching drifts of foliage are intersected with clusters of violet-purple berries along the stems of this shrub. White-berried, and occasionally pink, forms are also available. Beautyberry is always a charming stand-out in the landscape. Easy to grow, it reaches about 3-4 feet tall by 4-5 feet wide. Plant in sun to part sun.

Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata hybrids & cvs.) – This is the plant to grow if you love brilliant red berries gleaming in the winter landscape. Unassuming when not in fruit, mature specimens in the berry season are stunning. It requires that you plant a male and a female in order to get fruit. Generally grows to 6-10 feet tall and wide in full to part sun, and will accommodate wet soils, as well.

Foundations

Dwarf Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria ‘Schillings’ or ‘Bordeaux’) – Sometimes you just need a compact, low-maintenance, easy evergreen for the front of the house. For poorly drained areas, this well-behaved plant is a neatniks dream. Grows to about 3 feet tall in sun.

Flowering Tree

White fringe tree / Homewood Nursery

White Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) – This is a lovely small specimen tree that is also excellent in groups. White, fringe-like flowers bloom like a soft snow from May to June. Grows about 12-20 feet tall in sun to part shade.

Other Trees

River Birch (Betula nigra cultivars such as Dura-Heat or Heritage) – Makes an exceedingly handsome specimen tree, often planted in forms that include 2-3 trunks. Appreciated for its exfoliating bark that curls off in layers of buff, cream, salmon, and cinnamon, and for its lacy curtains of foliage that hang from arching branches.

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) – This is the classic southern magnolia that boasts shiny evergreen foliage with fuzzy, cinnamon-brown undersides, and which is beloved by many a Southern holiday home decorator. Gorgeous, massive, fragrant white flowers appear in late spring to early summer. Dwarf forms such as Teddy Bear and ‘Little Gem’ grow to about 25-30 feet tall, while ye olde magnolia varieties can grow to 60-80 feet tall in sun.

For more ideas, here is a list of honorable mentions perfect for heavy clay and damp soil.

Bog Sage
Cinnamon Fern
Royal Fern
Joe Pye Weed
Daylilies
Goldenrod
Blackberry Lily
Japanese iris
Swamp Hibiscus
Swamp Sunflower
Japanese and Siberian Iris
Switchgrass
Dappled Willow (Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’)
Virginia Sweetspire
Sweetshrub (Calycanthus sp.)
Summersweet
Redtwig Dogwood
Waxmyrtle
Bald Cypress
Sweetbay Magnolia
Dawn Redwood

Featured image Canna lily / Homewood Nursery.

Tina Mast is communications director for Homewood Nursery in Raleigh and can be reached at or at 919-847-0117. For more ideas, check out their list of plants for damp areas on their website at homewoodnursery.com. Or click on the Gardening Info button on the desktop website or Free Garden Guides button under More Options on the mobile website.

Top Recommended Shrubs for Clay Soil

Plants like clay a lot more than gardeners do. I feel rather smug about my sandy soil which is light, easy to dig and drains freely.

However, when I see how well so many plants look growing on clay my attitude changes. Clay soils might be heavy to work and a bit challenging, but they are fertile and lend a good deal of support and anchorage.

Many shrubs grow well on clay soils, especially the popular deciduous flowering shrubs: deutzia, philadelphus, weigela, forsythia and ribes for example.

The level of nutrients in the soil means that supplementary feeding is rarely required for good flowering and performance. However I would still recommend an annual feed with a slow-release general fertiliser for best results.

On heavy clay shrubs are a natural choice because major cultivation of the soil is rarely required after planting, just the removal of weeds around the plants.

An occasional mulch of composted bark, garden compost, or well rotted manure will benefit the plants and gradually improve the soil structure.

Roses love clay, as do many other members of the rose family such as pyracantha and cotoneaster. The larger growing shrub roses planted with informal evergreens, such as Cotoneaster franchettii and Pyracantha ‘Teton’ are ideal in country gardens with a bit of space.

With all year round interest a combination of this type makes a good screen or backdrop. I do encourage gardeners to think of shrub roses just as they would any flowering shrub and to use them accordingly.

Rosa ‘Bonica’ for example has healthy green foliage, few thorns and will bloom repeatedly though summer and into autumn with little attention from you. Growing it on a clay soil means that its even lower maintenance.

The vigorous shrub Leycesteria formosa grows just about anywhere and succeeds well on clay, even on damp sites. The tall arching, hollow stems are sea-green.

The flower clusters hang from the branches from early summer through to autumn, claret red bracts interspersed with small white flowers.

These are followed by shining purple fruits loved by pheasants, hence the common name: “Pheasant Berry”. Look for the variety Golden Lanterns with soft golden yellow leaves. It’s perfect to brighten up a shady corner.

Leycesteria is ideal to plant with red-barked dogwoods.All cornus grown for their winter stems do well on clay and are also valuable for sticky, wet sites.

A combination of these two plants with symphoricarpus, the snowberry is ideal where gardening is impossible, on a heavy clay bank for example.

When it comes to evergreens those hardy favourites come to the fore: choisya, aucuba and Viburnum tinus. All of these do well in sun as well as shade and provide important structure on the heaviest of soils.

Mahonias also do well on clay and provide cheering winter and early spring colour. Their yellow flowers combine well with the golden variegations of spotted laurels.

Clay soils are often neutral to acid and in these conditions the hardy hybrid rhododendrons will thrive. R. ‘Cunningham’s White’ is an old variety with dark green foliage and the palest mauve flowers that fade to white.

It is incredibly hardy and will even tolerate slightly alkaline conditions. For a dark red ‘Nova Zembla’ is a great choice: upright growth with deep red, weather resistant blooms.

All deciduous magnolias grow well on clay. For smaller gardens Magnolia stellata is the natural choice and it performs reliably with a wonderful display of starry, shining blooms from early spring. The grey, catkin-like buds are attractive in winter.

For larger spaces choose one of the cultivars of Magnolia soulangeana, however this grows best in neutral to acid clay.

For late summer flowers the hardy hibiscus are reliable, even if they are late to break into leaf at the beginning of the season. They grow well on clay, the foliage stays green and healthy and the flowers can be superb. Hibiscus syriacus ‘Hamabo is one of the best.

Other good shrubs to grow on clay soils:

Planting on clay can be difficult

It is really important to dig as large a planting hole as you can. Mix plenty of planting compost with the soil before you replace it around the plant to acclimatise the roots to their new home.

Clay soils can dry out and bake hard in the summer. Early autumn is therefore the best time to plant, to give the shrub longer to establish. Planting in spring may be difficult if the ground is wet and heavy.

Do remember that shrubs grown on clay have great stability, the weight of the soil keeps the roots firm and the plants rarely suffer from wind-rock. When shrubs are established little further maintenance or cultivation is needed.

A well known gardener said: “If you have free draining acid, sandy soil, plant rhododendrons; if you have chalk plant clematis; if you have clay move!”

What he should have said was: If you have clay, you will have to make the best of it by choosing the right plants.

I always emphasise that if you say “clay” with a smile on your face it sounds so much nicer.

Flowering plants for damp shade

If you have a damp, shady corner in your garden, don’t worry. Plenty of plants thrive in these conditions. From tall, majestic angelica, to low-growing candelabra primulas, there’s a wide range to choose from to brighten up your shady spot.

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Discover beautiful flowering plants to grow in damp shade, below.

Related content:

  • Best fruit crops for shade
  • Herbs for shade
  • The best shade-loving plants
  • Foliage plants for damp shade

Angelica

A great architectural plant, Angelica archangelica has deep-cut foliage and huge, rounded, bright green flowerheads. It self-seeds readily after flowering.

Astilbe

In summer, the wiry stems of astilbes hold plume-like flowerheads of this easy-to-grow perennial. Provided the soil is moist, astilbes are happy in partial shade. Pink, red and white varieties are available.

Bleeding heart

With arching stems of nodding, heart-shaped flowers, Lamprocapnos (formerly Dicentra) spectablis is an elegant perennial, perfect for brightening up a damp, shady corner.

Brunnera macrophylla

Reliably tough, even in poor soil, Brunnera macrophylla shows its daintier side when sprays of forget-me-not flowers shimmer over its bristly green leaves in spring.

Cowslip

Our native cowslip, Primula veris, looks great planted in woodland or naturalised in grass beneath trees.

Erythronium

Swept-back petals give great character to graceful dog’s tooth violet, Erythronium. It thrives in cool, shady conditions and moist, humus-rich soil.

Rodgersia

A dramatic foliage plant, Rodgersia, has cream flower plumes that turn bronzy in autumn, against deeply ribbed foliage. It favours constantly moist conditions.

Solomon’s Seal

With arching stems and delicate flowers, Polygonatum x hybridum is an elegant choice for a shady spot. This perennial likes moist, humus-rich soil.

Trillium

A North American woodland perennial, Trillium erectum bears large leaves that frame its striking wine-red (occasionally white or yellow) flowers. It does best in shade in humus-rich, damp soil.

Candelabra primulas

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These stunning perennials are at home in moist soil and partial shade. Candelabra primulas to grow include Primula beesiana and Primula chungensis.

Plants for Clay Soil

This generalized list is a starting point for finding plants for your clay soil garden. While the plants listed prefer or tolerate clay conditions, it’s always good to amend the soil with compost on a routine basis to provide nutrients for the plants.

Wait! Before You Plant…

Always check first that plants are:

  1. Recommended for your growing zone.
  2. Not invasive in your area.
  3. Suit your growing conditions (sun, soil, water).
  4. Can cope with your specific location and weather conditions (e.g. high winds).

The growing zones and conditions listed are general. Each species or hybrid may have unique needs which you can find on the plant tag.

Perennials | Flowers

  • Anemone x hybrida – zones 3 to 8
  • Aster (Symphyotrichum) – Zone 4-8
  • Astilbe (Astilbe japonica) – Zone 3-8
  • Bearded Iris (Iris germanica) – Zone 3-9
  • Bee Balm (Monarda) – Zone 4-8
  • Bellflower (Campanula spp.) – zones 3 to 8
  • Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) – zones 4 to 9
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) – Zone 5-9
  • Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) – Zone 4-9
  • Blue Cardinal Flower (Lobelia siphilitica) – Zone 3-9
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis) – Zone 3-9
  • Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) – Zone 3-9
  • Elephant’s ears (Alocasia and Colocasia spp.) – zones 9 to 11 (summer only in colder zones)
  • Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii – zones 6 to 8
  • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) – zones 4 to 8
  • Geum – zones 3 to 9
  • Helenium (Helenium) – Zone 4-8
  • Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) – Zone 3-7
  • Hydrangea macrophylla – zones 5 to 9
  • Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica) – Zone 6-9
  • Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) – Zone 4-8
  • Liatris (Liatris) – Zone 4-8
  • Lungwort (Pulmonaria) – zones 4 to 8
  • Ox-eye Daisy (Heliopsis helianthoides var.) – zones 3 to 8
  • Fleeceflowers (Persicaria) – zones 4 to 9
  • Phlox (Phlox) – Zone 4-8
  • Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) – zones 4 to 8
  • Sedum (Sedum) – Zone 3-9
  • Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum hirtum) – zones 3 to 9
  • Meadow rue (Thalictrum rochebrunianum) – zones 3 to 8
  • Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum) – Zone 5 to 8

Shrubs

  • Aronia – deciduous shrub – part sun to sun – zones 3 to 9
  • Barberry (Berberis thumbergii) – part sun to sun – zones 4 to 8
  • Cotoneaster x watereri – semi-shade – zones 5 to 8
  • Currant, flowering (Ribes sanguineum) – part sun to sun – zones 5 to 8
  • Diervilla – long-blooming– sun or shade – zones 4 to 7
  • Dogwood (Cornus)– part sun to sun – zones 4 to 7
  • Elderberry (Sambucus) – part sun to sun – zones 4 to 7
  • Euonymus europaeus – part sun to sun – zones 4 to 7
  • Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles) – part sun to sun – zones 5 to 9
  • Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) – shade or sun – zones 3 to 8
  • Lilac (Syringa)– sun – zones 3 to 7
  • Potentilla – part sun to sun – zones 2 to 7
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)– sun – zones 5 to 9
  • Smooth hydrangea – part sun to sun – zones 3 to 8
  • Weigela – sun – zones 4 to 8

Climbers and Wall Shrubs

  • Golden hops (Humulus lupulus) – zones 4 to 8
  • Rose filipes – zones 4 to 9
  • Silk tassel bush (Garrya elliptica) – zones 7 to 10

Trees

  • Acer maple
  • Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
  • Aspen (Populus tremula)
  • Dogwood (Cornus kousa)
  • Magnolia
  • Manchurian cherry (Prunus maackii)
  • Rowan (Sorbus cashmiriana)

Now, dig in!

~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛

Next

  • 10 Best Veggies to Grow in Clay Soil
  • Compost 101: Slow and Fast Methods
  • Build a Raised Garden Bed with Built-in Privacy Wall

10 Recommended Perennials and Shrubs for Clay Soil

Clay soil can be both a blessing and a curse. Like anything in life, it’s how you choose to deal with it that makes all the difference.

Clay soil is excellent at binding together nutritious minerals that many plants need to thrive. It’s also good at holding in moisture as it percolates slowly down to the roots. The issue comes when it holds too much moisture in. Some plants detest having wet roots for an extended period, especially when they are not actively growing in winter. Winter wetness tends to kill more plants than cold temperatures, though we are often quick to blame the cold.

Many types of plants tolerate or even prefer growing in clay soil. Let’s take a closer look at ten of our favorites.

1. Lilacs – A quintessential shrub for spring, there’s nothing quite like the scent of a lilac. Their heady fragrance is intoxicating! You might think this elegant shrub takes a lot of work to grow, but the opposite is actually true. It thrives on neglect. Plant your lilac in a sunny spot, water it the first season to establish its roots, then sit back and enjoy it for decades to come. Choose from reblooming types like Bloomerang® or Scent and Sensibility™ or double-flowered cultivars like Scentara™.

2. Dogwood Shrubs – Dogwood shrubs are extremely versatile plants that can handle clay soils with ease and grow in sun and part shade. Though they do produce white flowers in spring that attract pollinators, these shrubs are more often grown for their colorful stems that glow red or gold in winter. If you have a spot in your landscape that tends to be a little soggy after it rains, that would be the perfect place to plant a dogwood shrub.

3. Viburnums – Viburnum shrubs are workhorses in the garden; no landscape should be without at least one! This is an incredibly diverse genus of plants that includes selections with fragrant flowers, showy berries and rich fall color. Many are native to North America and their degree of cold hardiness varies by species. Dwarf varieties stay as small as 1-2 feet while standard viburnums can reach up to 8 feet tall. They are incredibly adaptable shrubs that tolerate any soil type and grow in both sun and part shade. Consider adding viburnums to your foundation plantings or plant a row of them as a hedge or living screen.

4. Smooth and Panicle Hydrangeas – Some of the easiest hydrangeas to grow include smooth hydrangeas (H. arborescens) and panicle hydrangeas (H. paniculata). Unlike their bigleaf cousins, they are not so fussy about soil and grow easily in well-drained clay soils (those that aren’t continually waterlogged.) Both types bloom reliably every year because they form their buds on “new wood”, meaning this year’s branches. Dwarf, average and tall varieties are available to suit any space in your landscape.

5. Rose of Sharon – For midsummer to fall color and deer resistance in sunny landscapes, choose rose of Sharon. After all the spring flowering shrubs have finished, rose of Sharon is gearing up to start its show. These are beautiful yet tough shrubs that require little to no pruning to form an upright column of dark green foliage and colorful blossoms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. If reseeding is an issue in your climate, choose our Chiffon®, Satin®, Sugar Tip® or Pollypetite® varieties that have very low to no seed set.

6. Arborvitae – Arborvitae shrubs are classic elegant evergreens often used in foundation plantings, to build privacy screens, or define a patio space. Some are tall and conical while others are small and round. If you have a sunny spot where you could use something, there’s a good chance we have an arborvitae that would fit your space. Some of our favorites include the bright gold, dwarf Anna’s Magic Ball® and the giant 20 foot tall Spring Grove® Western arborvitae.

7. Rose Mallow – Perennial varieties of Hibiscus, commonly known as rose mallow, grow as big as shrubs but die back to the ground every year like perennials. You may have heard them called “dinnerplate Hibiscus” for their enormous 7-10” wide flowers. They are absolute showstoppers in the garden when in bloom from midsummer to fall. Rose mallow needs moist soil to thrive and since clay soil is great at retaining water, it’s a match made in heaven. Choose from pink, red, white, or bicolor varieties.

8. Shasta Daisies – No sunny garden is complete without at least one patch of shasta daisies. You’ll find this hardy perennial growing across the U.S. in all kinds of soils, from well-drained clay to sandy loam. Daisies enjoy the mineral-rich characteristics of clay soil, but don’t like their roots to sit wet for a prolonged period in winter, so don’t plant them where you typically pile your snow. Daisies bloom for many weeks in late spring to midsummer. Daisy May® is a very special reblooming selection that produces as many as three rounds of blooms per season, depending on your climate.

9. Bee Balm – Bee balm or Monarda is a favorite of pollinating bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, but its minty scented foliage is good at keeping deer away. Vivid red, purple, pink or lilac colored blossoms are produced prolifically from early summer through late summer, depending on the variety you choose. Growing bee balm in clay soil helps to keep its growth in check which is good because this is a spreading perennial. It spreads faster in loose, sandy loam soils. Plant it in a spot where it’s easy to water since it dislikes dry conditions.

10. Daylilies – Daylilies are staple perennials for low maintenance landscapes. They are extremely easy to grow, cold hardy all the way to zone 3, tolerate any soil type, and multiply from year to year. As they begin to spread, you can divide and transplant them around to fill your garden with brilliant summer color. Some daylilies are rebloomers, while others make one huge splash over a single period. Choose from red, pink, purple, orange, peach, gold, yellow and white selections.

Small trees and shrubs for heavy and clay soils

Clay soil can feel like a blessing and a curse. On the plus side it’s very fertile and keeps plants moist. However it can be heavy and hard to work, and can bake solid in summer. Only certain plants will thrive in these conditions.

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Any clay soil will benefit from efforts to improve its texture. Mulch generously in spring with well-rotted organic matter, coarse grit or bark – around a barrowload per square metre.

More garden soil advice:

  • Test your soil type (video)
  • 10 flowers for clay soil
  • Mulching beds and borders

In the meantime, you can make a great garden with plants that thrive on heavier soils, including many shrubs and trees. Here are some of the best that will thrive on clay soil.

You can make a great garden with plants that thrive on heavier soils, including shrubs and trees.

Snowy mespilus

Amelanchier flowers

Amelanchier lamarkii is a very beautiful, small, North American tree that is attractive in all seasons, even in winter. In March the branches erupt with a froth of star-shaped flowers in lax conical heads, just as the coppery pink young leaves unfold – they later turn crimson.

Birch

Birch tree stems and foliage

Many birches (Betula) are grown for their snowy white bark. They looks stunning all year round, but especially in autumn when the foliage turns yellow and on winter days when they really stand out in the bare garden.

Cotoneaster ‘Hybridus Pendulus’

Cotoneasters can be used in borders or as hedges and can be deciduous or evergreen. They have small, often white flowers, followed by masses of berries in autumn. Opt for one of the Cotoneaster species deemed to be non-invasive in the UK, such as Cotoneaster hylmoei, Cotoneaster amoenus or Cotoneaster rhytidophyllus.

Crab apple

Crab apple blossom

Crab apples are compact trees have beautiful blossom in spring, and are flushed with pretty fruits, plus attractive fiery foliage in autumn. Malus ‘Evereste’ has a pleasingly conical shape, with red fruits.

Roses

Rose ‘Suffolk’

Roses thrive on clay soil, and there are many different types to choose from, including rambling roses, climbing roses and shrub and species roses. Discover 10 beautiful roses to grow or browse our plant database for over 250 roses to grow.

Hawthorn

Red hawthorn haws

Tough hawthorns are deciduous trees or shrubs, and a good choice for clay soils. Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ is a small tree that has pretty magenta blossom in springtime.

Holly

Holly ‘Argentea Marginata’

Common holly is a useful evergreen shrub that can be grown as a specimen tree, clipped bushes or as a hedge. There are dozens of varieties, many with variegated leaves. Discover 10 hollies to grow.

Strawberry tree

Strawberry tree Advertisement

Arbutus unedo is a large, evergreen shrub or small tree, with lily-of-the-valley like flowers in autumn, and attractive, strawberry-like fruits, which are edible but not particularly tasty.

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