Plants for Clay Soil - Knowledgebase Question

Oxford, CT
Avatar for csideleau
Question by csideleau
May 27, 1999
I would like to put plants in front of a stone wall that gets full sun for a majority of the day. My soil has a high clay content and is relatively damp on one portion of the wall and not as damp on the other. (You can tell where the septic system leaches to) I have tried bulbs, but they seem to rot. The only thing that I've managed to grow there is Lady's Mantle and a Peony. Any suggestions?

Answer from NGA
May 27, 1999
Clay soil in and of itself is not necessarily bad soil. You might try working in a generous amount of compost, old rotted leaves or aged stable manure and bedding or other organic material to improve the texture. This would help all sorts of plants do better there. For the moister areas you might try Siberian iris, daylilies(hemerocallis), Black-Eyed Susans, boltonia, and asters. For the drier areas, you might also try daylilies, Black-Eyed Susans, and boltonia, but expect them to grow less lushly there. You could also try purple cone flower, coreopsis, perennial salvia and heuchera (coral bells) in the drier areas. As a rule (and as you noticed), most spring bulbs do need a well drained spot in order to thrive and resent unimproved clay soil. You might find, however, that they would do well in a slightly raised bed of amended soil if you wish to experiment. Good luck with your planting!

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