Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil

Slow-draining clay soil makes life difficult for many plants. Not to worry: these 10 plants for clay soil thrive in it.

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Scarlet Runner Bean

    Scarlet Runner Bean

    Phaseolus coccineus • annual to Zone 7

    The scarlet runner bean is grown for its lavish flowers. This fast-growing vine thrives in full sun but tolerates shade. Most runner bean flowers are bright red, but if you’d rather have white ones, try the Dutch cultivar.

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Fern

    Fern

    Varieties include Athyrium and Osmunda • Zones 2 to 10

    This leafy plant is so popular that an entire society is devoted to them. The American Fern Society celebrates the 12,000-plus species available today.

    Why we love it: Ferns are so versatile, you can find a plant for just about any growing condition: sun or shade, indoors or out.

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Coreopsis

    Coreopsis

    Coreopsis spp. • Zones 3 to 11

    Also known as tickseed and butter daisy, coreopsis blooms from late spring through late summer. All varieties are pretty as cut flowers, and their bright hues entice butterflies.

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Switchgrass

    Switchgrass

    Panicum virgatum • Zones 4 to 9

    The drooping spikes of this grass grab attention all year long, especially once the purple-green flowers emerge in early fall. Reaching up to 7 feet high, switchgrass thrives in moderately fertile soil.

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Japanese Iris

    Japanese Iris

    Iris ensata • Zones 4 to 9

    Among the showiest and most recognizable garden flowers, Japanese iris is a beloved beardless variety and a great plant for clay soil. As long as the soil is moist, it’s more adaptable than bearded types.

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Black-Eyed Susan

    Black-Eyed Susan

    Rudbeckia spp. • Zones 3 to 9

    Blooming from summer to fall, this beauty comes in reds, oranges and yellows. No matter what flowers you already have growing in your garden, black-eyed Susan will be a winning addition.

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Viburnum

    Viburnum

    Viburnum spp. • Zones 2 to 9

    Boasting large clusters, viburnums are real head-turners, reaching up to 30 feet high. Ample and consistent moisture is the only requirement for these, apart from some pruning to maintain their good looks.

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Aster

    Aster

    Aster spp. • Zones 3 to 8

    Wonderful as cut flowers, asters make any garden burst with color, particularly at the end of the growing season. From tiny alpine varieties to giants that reach 6 feet tall, this plant prefers full sun to partial shade.

    Gardener’s Secret: If you live in a northern area, plant asters early so they have time to settle in before winter.

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Potentilla

    Potentilla

    Potentilla fruticosa • Zones 2 to 7

    When many other flowering shrubs’ colorful show is all but a memory, potentilla, or bush cinquefoil, is just beginning its long blooming season. The blossoms of this drought-tolerant plant will last until the first hard frost and is one of the best plants for clay soil.

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Daylily

    Daylily

    Hemerocallis • Zones 3 to 10

    In summer breezes, trumpet-shaped daylilies seem to nod on their 10-inch to 4-foot stems. Reliable, hardy plants, daylily varieties bloom from early summer to first frost, each flower lasting just one day.

  • More From Birds & Blooms
  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Scarlet Runner Bean

    Scarlet Runner Bean

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Fern

    Fern

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Coreopsis

    Coreopsis

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Switchgrass

    Switchgrass

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Japanese Iris

    Japanese Iris

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Black-Eyed Susan

    Black-Eyed Susan

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Viburnum

    Viburnum

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Aster

    Aster

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Potentilla

    Potentilla

  • Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil: Daylily

    Daylily

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