The Q&A Archives: Clay Soil

Question: How do you know if you have clay soil? Will bulbs such as tulips & dafodils grow in clay soil? If not, what is good to plant here?

Answer: Clay soil is a very fine textured soil and will stick to your shovel when it is wet, it feels slick and slippery too when wet -- just like modeling clay! When dry, it is hard like a rock. A sandy soil will feel sandy and dry quickly and a nice loam will have a crumbly sort of texture to it.

Clay soil is not a bad thing, but it does need copious amounts of organic matter and perhaps a bit of sand so that plant roots can grow well in it. Bulbs generally will rot in unamended clay soil because it holds moisture and has very little air space in it. However, if planted on a slope or in a raised bed with amended clay soil bulbs will often do very well. Many plants do just fine in clay soil as long as it is amended as needed.

If you are not planning to amend the soil, you might contact your County Extension (853-3471) for suggestions of what does particularly well in your local soil. They can help you determine what type of soil you have and perhaps help you run some basic soil tests. In addition to the texture, soils differ in terms of pH and fertility as well, and all these things are important when selecting plants.

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by Fleur569 and is called "Shamrock Zinfandel"