Clay soil doesn’t have to mean your garden is destined to be anything less than amazing. In fact, there are so many great plant options that I’m doing a whole series this week on flowering perennials, shrubs and trees for clay soil.


Crocus flowers in February

I wrote a recent post about ways you can improve your clay soil structure by adding organic ingredients like compost, mulch and sand. While that’s an attainable job for your vegetable patch, it can be a major undertaking to tackle the whole garden. Instead, try working with nature and not against it by planting shrub and tree species that will thrive in clay soil.


Springtime daffodil flowers

Starting in springtime, bulbs like daffodils and crocus will happily pop their heads up in clay soil. Divide them in the fall and replant to keep adding spring flowers to your garden.


Daylily, Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus. Photo by Paolo Costa Baldi. License: GFDL/CC-BY-SA 3.0

As late spring approaches, Daylilies (Hemerocallis sp.) begin to open up. They tolerant a wide range of soil types and don’t require much water once established. They rebloom all the way through the fall.


Tickseed, Coreopsis verticillata. Photo by Rob Hille; public domain license

Tickseed is another favorite of mine, especially the Coreopsis verticillata species. This plant is a prolific summertime bloomer of (usually) yellow flowers with fine foliage. Some varieties are great for attracting butterflies and many are drought-tolerant.


Fall asters

Both Daylily and Tickseed look great paired with Asters, another showy flowering perennial that does well in clay soil. The asters in our garden are a bee-magnet. They buzz around happily on masses of purple blossoms from late summer through fall.


Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia sp.

Both Russian Sage and Black-Eyed Susans tolerate clay soil and look fabulous together in a garden. They both tolerant dry, hot areas in clay soil. The Russian Sage spills piles of light purple flowers in summer and Black-Eyed Susan will reseed to ensure many long seasons of yellow blooms.


Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea. Photo by H. Zell; License: GFDL/CC-BY-SA 3.0

Who doesn’t love a Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)? Butterflies love them. Bees love them. If you’re crafty, you can use it for medicinal purposes. Summertime bloom colors are most often purples and pinks, although there are some white and orange varieties out there too.

The list goes on, but this should give you some confidence that clay soil doesn’t have to mean a boring plant palette. If you have some other favorite flowers for clay soil, tell me about it in the comments below! Look for more posts soon about shrubs and trees that do well in clay soil.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson