The Q&A Archives: Shade and clay soil

Question: I've developed a small garden in the corner of backyard w/varying degrees of shade. The soil is red Tenn. clay which I've hand turned and may till if the rain ever stops. I don't want to amend the soil & need low maint./low cost. When it rains it stays somewhat wet, but it's on a very slight slope away from the house. I like ground covers/low growing shrubs/trees. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Answer: Not many plants will tolerate soggy soils and Houston heat, but here are a few reliables for your to consider:
Jacobinia (Justica carnea), Mats of runners make 4- to 8-inch groundcover of small leaves and small pink flowers, spring through frost.
Lamium (deadnettle) with green or variegated foliage, is a sturdy groundcover.
Liriope (lily turf), another groundcover, 6 to 18 inches tall, grass-like foliage, blue or white flowers spikes in summer, but grown primarily for tough durable foliage, often as borders or mass planting. Also variegated and giant varieties.
Indigofera (pink indigo) a shrub, 2 to 3 feet, with delicate foliage and clusters of pale pink flowers, spring through fall. Spreads by underground runners.
Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyeranus), has striking silver-purple foliage and grows to 4 feet. Unusual and interesting.
Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida), a very hardy groundcover, grows to 10-inches, long-jointed sprawling plant with succulent stems and deep purple, pointed leaves. Hardy, but may be invasive so plant cautiously. Hope these suggestions help.

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