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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.