Five clay-compatible plants for your garden
Garden Gate staff
Five colorful plants for a dazzling garden — despite troublesome clay!
Made up of small, fine particles that hold tightly together, clay soil is so dense it can be hard for plants’ roots to penetrate. But choose your plants carefully and clay could end up working for you! Just follow these basics before planting in less-than-ideal soil.
- Don’t only amend the soil around the planting hole — this could make it harder for roots to push out into the clay.
- Try to set your plant into the ground a few inches above the soil line. This will help more oxygen get to the plant’s roots.
Now click ahead for five plants that thrive in clay.
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Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis)
Serviceberries truly bring three-season color to any garden. In spring, you’ll get lovely white, star-shaped blooms, which are followed by red, blue or black berries in summer. In fall, the foliage turns shades of yellow, orange and scarlet.
Type Tree Blooms White in spring Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist Size 50 to 30 ft. tall and wide Cold-hardy USDA zones 3 to 9 Heat-tolerant AHS zones 9 to 1
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Forsythia (Forsythia spp. and hybrids)
Forsythia are fast-growers that need annual pruning. Since they flower on old wood, prune them back immediately after their flowers fade.
Type Shrub Blooms Yellow in early to midspring Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist Size 1 to 10 ft. tall, 2 to 12 ft. wide Cold-hardy USDA zones 4 to 9 Heat-tolerant AHS zones 9 to 1
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Bee balm (Monarda hybrids)
A staple in butterfly gardens, bee balm’s bright flowers attract bees and butterflies by the hundreds. When it starts to fade out in midsummer, cut tall stems back to the base. It probably won’t rebloom, but you’ll enjoy a nice, clean clump of foliage for the rest of the season.
Type Perennial Blooms White, pink, red, purple in early to midsummer Light Full sun Soil Moist Size 10 to 48 int. tall, 12 to 36 in. wide Cold-hardy USDA zones 4 to 9 Heat-tolerant AHS zones 9 to 1
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Mealycup sage (Salvia farinacea)
Mealycup sage just gets prettier and prettier throughout the summer! All it needs is full sun — it doesn’t mind the heat and won’t need frequent watering.
Type Annual Blooms White or blue-purple in summer to frost Light Full sun Soil Moist Size 12 to 36 in. tall, 10 to 16 in. wide Cold-hardy USDA zones 8 to 11 Heat-tolerant AHS zones 12 to 1
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Camassia (Camassia quamash)
Plant camassia bulbs in fall in groups of 15 or more for the best visual effect. Set them 6 in. deep (to the bottom of the bulb) and 6 to 8 in. apart. They’re not always easy to find locally, though, so you may need to go online to order them.
Type Bulb Blooms Blue or white in late spring to early summer Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist Size 18 to 24 in. tall, 6 to 9 in. wide Cold-hardy USDA zones 4 to 10 Heat-tolerant AHS zones 10 to 1 Source Van Engelen Inc.
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